Updated July 18th 2023
Which is the best wine for chili con carne? This rich and flavorful dish goes well with several wines, but especially with red wines with herbaceous and fruity flavors, and moderate tannins. This food and wine guide will help you find the best wine parings for chili con carne.
Chili con carne is a popular meat dish full of flavors and character. Finding the perfect wine for this spicy chili can be difficult, but there are many good wines that stand up to the bold flavors of the dish. We help you navigate the wine shelf and find the best wine for your chili con carne. You might be surprised how many wines you can pair with this dish!
First let’s look into what kind of dish chili con carne is. In order to find the best wine for your food, you always need to understand the characteristics of both the food and the wine.
Chili con carne is a flavorful meat stew made of beef, beans, tomatoes, gravy and red pepper. It is originally a Mexican dish, and the name translates directly from Spanish to “chili with meat”. Other seasonings in the dish are often garlic, onion and cumin.
There are many variations of this dish, but its richness and spicy flavors are always present.
Chili con carne may be served with one or several toppings, or sides: rice, grated cheese, onions, tortilla chips, salad, cornbread, guacamole, sour cream and coriander.
Note: You can make a vegetarian chili con carne by excluding the meat. The wine pairing suggestions below work for both vegetarian and traditional chili con carne.
In order to find the best wine for your chili con carne, it is important to conside the following characteristics of the food:
Tips! Avoid red wines with too harsh tannins. These will not match the spices in the dish. Instead, choose a round and fruity wine if you want to drink red wine to your chili con carne.
Malbec is our best wine recommendation to chili con carne. A Malbec from Argentina, or other warm climate areas, is bold and fruity, with a deep purple color. This wine has characteristic herbaceous and fruity flavors. Malbec is often described as juicy and leafy. It has aromas of plum, dark berries, herbs and tobacco. Its moderate tannins and good structure make it an excellent wine to pair with chili con carne.
The juiciness and the fruity aromas in the wine match perfectly with a spicy and flavorful dish like chili con carne. Malbec also has good acidity to balance the acidity from the tomato and/or sour cream that sometime is served with the dish.
The best serving temperature for Malbec is 17-19°C (63-66°F).
Tips! Are you curious about other dishes that pair well with Malbec? In our Malbec Food Pairing Guide you will find the answers.
Malbec is not the only red wine that pairs well with chili con carne. The key is to choose a fruity, bold red wine with moderate tannins to balance the meat, chili spice, tomatoes and cumin.
We recommend the following red wines for chili con carne.
Chili con carne is a rich dish, and the wine that you pair it with risks being drowned by the chili. For this reason, a white wine is usually not the best option for this dish. If you do go for a white wine, make sure to choose an aromatic full-bodied white. Ideally, the wine should have a hint of sweetness to balance the heat from the chili.
The best wine wines for chili con carne are:
Rosé wine could work with chili con carne, but just like with a white wine it is important to choose a fruity rosé with some weight. If it has a hint of sweetness, it will balance the heat in the chili even better. A Zinfandel Rosé is a good choice if you want to drink for chili con carne.
Enjoy your chili con carne with wine!