by Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas
A big pot of chili is always simmering on the stove at our neighborhood Super Bowl get-together. And while lots of folks drink beer with it, plenty of others opt for wine. So with the big game just around the corner, we wanted to find out which wines pair best with this always popular football treat.
Since a Super Bowl party is apt to draw a crowd, affordability played a part in our choice of wines to try for this edition of “Wine With. . .” We sampled fourteen, all with suggested retail prices under $20 a bottle. And to keep everything wine-friendly, we intentionally made our chili on the fairly mild side–with some heat, but nothing tear-inducing. We served it with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and sliced avocados. Then we popped the corks and got down to work.
In the past, we’ve only paired red wines with chili. Since some of our neighbors prefer whites, we made sure to include a couple in this line-up. One, a South African Chenin Blanc, proved too light, but we were pleasantly surprised by how well a lush but balanced New World Chardonnay performed. The key wasn’t just its rich character, but also its focus, as no single element (wood, fruit, acid, etc.) seemed out of place with the food. Much the same proved true of the reds. The wines that matched best came from different places and were made with different grapes, but they all impressed us with their harmony, balance, and structure.