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That burning sensation in the mouth. The heat that flows through the body. I love chili, and I prefer to enjoy it with wine. Certainly, we have chili growing in our vineyard in Acquapendente, Italy. It enhances so many dishes.

My love for chile started when I studied and lived in Albuquerque i New Mexico, USA, where they eat chili for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My first meeting with this hot New Mexican variety started right after I landed in Albuquerque. I didn’t know anyone and went to a restaurant by myself. I ordered the local dish, enchiladas. It was a painful experience. I was starving. Despite that, I was not able to eat. It changed. I lived five years in the state called «Land of Enchantment».

Chile ristras. A typical arrangement in New Mexico, USA. Photo: Pixabay.

Chili and wine is not a typical combination. Most people will say that beer is what to drink along a hot New Mexican dish. But there are always exceptions, and the professionals don’t agree.  This article shows the multitude. In my wine education WSET, I have learned some rules.

What chili does to wine: 

  • The wine seems more dry and bitter
  • The fruit and the sweetness in the wine decrease 
  • An increase in the hot sensation 

Choice of wine to food with chili: 

  • A wine with a low alchol level
  • A fruity wine
  •  A wine with some sweetness

There are also other factors, such as, the other ingredients in the food. Another is your personal preference. You may like the additional burning sensation. Or perhaps you prefer a dry wine, rather than a sweet.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas and a Pinot Noir.

Here is my last experiment. I made Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. Along with it, I opened a bottle of Pinot Noir from California, a gift from a friend.

The combination was terrific. An exquisite wine and a delicious meal.

Tyler Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, 2014. California, USA.  
Light in color, tasteful in the mouth. Red berries, herbs, and a hint of oak. Elegant and delicate.

I assume that other fruity Pinot Noir wines also would work, such as Cline.

Cline Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2015. California, USA. 
A fresh and juicy wine. Easy to drink and to like.

If you prefer a white wine, you could try a Riesling. Or why not an Italian wine made from the vermentino-grape?

Lunae Colli di Luni Vermentino. 2015. Liguria, Italia. 
An aromatic wine. Can you sense peach, honey, and spice? This wine gave me a delightful sensation. You can enjoy this with or without food.

Try it out! Experiment and don’t be afraid! I wish you a hot and lovely experience!

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