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.
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.
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.
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.
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!