Pairing Wine with Soup

Last chance for soup season - be sure to choose the right wine pairing!


Soups are often thought of as lighter fare meals, but along with stew and chili, these dishes can be quite hearty and fulfilling.

Pairing wines with these winter staples can be a bit tricky. A great way to make this a bit less intimidating is to break down your meal ingredients and view them as you would a pasta sauce or something similar.

Just in the nick of time, we gathered our favorite soup, stew and chili dishes and paired them with wines that are ideal for keeping warm and comforted.

Photo courtesy photosavvy via Flickr/CC

Mexican Beef Stew or Carne Guisada

This is an old Mexican classic and perfect for a chilly day. The term "comfort food" is not usually associated with the idea of being particularly healthy. Not the case here. Many of the Mexican Guisados rely as heavily on vegetables and seasonings as on meat to achieve their deep, rich flavor.

Freshness of ingredients is another factor here, especially since this dish is based off onions, carrots, squash, corn, green beans and tomatoes, all of which are readily available year round. Ancho and pastilla chiles can add layers of flavor without being over used.

For a meal like this, you can’t go wrong with Cabernet Sauvignon. For many, Cab is the wine of kings. Guisados, being heavy on meats with a rich sauce, require a wine that has body and strength like the Cabernet. Alexander Valley Cabernet of ‘09 would be a good choice here because of its soft and smooth aftertaste.

Mexican Stew

Photo courtesy J.W. Hamner via Flickr/CC

French Onion Beef Soup

Few things are more satisfying on a cold day than a bowl of French Onion Soup. Add some beef and you have yourself a winter staple. The rich, beefy broth, dense with onions and topped by slices of grilled bread and a blanket of melted cheese, is more than just an appetizer - it is a meal in a bowl.

There are many wines that would pair nicely with a soup like this, but you want a wine that doesn’t have too much tannin content. Beaujolais Nouveau is a light fruity wine that pairs well with the French onion and is virtually free of tannin. Its flavors are so ripe as to retain fruit sweetness, something that will compliment the creamy, sweet onions very nicely.

Classic French Onion Soup

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood gumbo is a bold, rich soup or stew that usually features shrimp, crawfish, okra, hot peppers, sausage and crab or fish. The unique flavor combinations in the dish mirror the uniqueness of its city of origin, New Orleans.

Choose a wine that compliments the balance of light seafood and heavy spices. A white wine will offset some of the gumbo's spice. Sauvignon Blanc, with its earthy tones and citrusy spike, will be sure to compliment the myriad of seafood.

Seafood Gumbo


Chili is an American favorite, with recipes varying from state to state and family to family. A meal that can be made in a slow-cooker loaded with meat, beans and vegetables, it’s great food fare for fall, winter, or early spring.

There are plenty of wine pairing options for chili, especially if you prefer red wines. For the red wine lovers, shoot for a wine that strikes a good balance between acidity and tannin content. Zinfandel would be ideal for a hefty beef and bean chili because of its structure and acidity, which together allow the wine to compete with the strong flavors of the chili.

Alexander Valley Sin Zin ‘09 would be a good choice here because of its feisty nature and rush of ripe berry flavors.

Homemade Chili


There are no hard and fast rules for pairing wine with foods, and specifically soups, stews and the like, but there are certainly some wines that will enhance a pot of soup better than others would.

Experiment with these listings and try your own!

Want to Learn More?

Check out some great Spring pairing and learn How to Pair White Rhone Wines with Food!

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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Varimus
    957337 7

    Tempranillo is wonderful with our beef chuck minestrone.

    Apr 06, 2012 at 3:24 PM

  • Snooth User: AllSocial
    983916 26

    I have a hankering for French Onion Soup with my favorite Pinot Noir from Pacific Coast Vineyards

    Apr 06, 2012 at 7:04 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 5,301

    What's with a Beaujolais nouveau pairing for French onion soup, anyway? Are you still drinking that stuff in April???

    And sauvignon blanc with gumbo? Ever had any real stuff down in Louisiana? Either the SB, if French (or South African), will be destroyed, or some monstrous New Zealand SB will battle till it and the food are both dead.

    Soup is a notoriously difficult match for wines, though you have more stews than soups here. You should also seriously consider adding sherries into the mix. They often succeed when lesser wines fail....

    Apr 06, 2012 at 7:25 PM

  • Snooth User: James Fab
    1015246 81

    Ripasso, pinot noir, or burgundy with lentil soup. It works!

    Apr 07, 2012 at 10:19 PM

  • Snooth User: Stevern86
    909211 36

    Agreed, these examples are more like stews than soup. Don't forget sparkling wines with soups. The cool refrshing bubbles contrast nicley and refresh in between slurps. The sparkler's wide range of sweet to dry allows us the flexibility to pick one that compliments the wide variety of flavors we encounter within the broad category of soup.

    Apr 10, 2012 at 4:15 PM


    Apr 12, 2012 at 11:58 PM

  • forgot to mention that this pairing was recommended by a local bistro owner who is also a MW, it works very well,give it a try

    Apr 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM

  • forgot to mention that this pairing was recommended by a local bistro owner who is also a MW, it works very well,give it a try

    Apr 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM

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