Liberty School Cuvee featured in Chicago Tribune
Pairing wine with chili
Our wine expert weighs in on the best approach
About 3 percent of all wine is distilled into ethanol (ethyl alcohol), much of which is used as a solvent, for example to keep liquid medications in solution. Even if not distilled, the alcohol in wine still acts as a solvent — and that's important when pairing wine with dishes high in capsaicin, the sometimes searing heat in chili peppers.
High alcohol means more chili burn because the alcohol literally spreads out and amplifies the capsaicin. Pick your poison with this chili dish; lower alcohol wines will go easier on the palate.
2009 Liberty School Cuvee Central Coast: A great buy in flavorful but deftly wrought red Rhone blend; mostly syrah; gobs of chunky character but fine-grained tannins. Alcohol 13.5 percent. $14
2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer Columbia Valley: Touch of sweetness at end a comforting mop up to this dish's heat; its complexity mirrors the chili's own. Alcohol 12 percent. $9
2009 Educated Guess Pinot Noir Carneros: California style, concentrated in hue and extract, but with plenty of strawberry and cherry flavor and crisp acids. Alcohol 13.5 percent. $25
The food: White bean chili with pork
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat; add 1 pound ground pork. Brown, breaking up into pieces, until no longer pink; transfer to a bowl. Reduce heat to low; add 3 cloves chopped garlic and 1 chopped onion; cook, stirring, until onion wilts. Add 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons sweet smoked Spanish paprika, 1/2 teaspoon each chili powder and salt, and pepper to taste.
Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Pour in 1/4 cup red wine, stirring; cook 5 minutes. Add cooked pork, 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes and 2 cans (14 ounces each) drained, rinsed cannellini beans; cover. Cook over medium-low heat, 15 minutes. Season to taste. Serve topped with cilantro and sour cream.
— Bill St. John, special to Tribune Newspapers« Back to News