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What Drinks Pair Well with Chili?


Wine and chili
Cogdog/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Question: What Drinks Pair Well with Chili?
Chili tends to be a fall recipe staple and for good reason - it's quick to make, a safe bet when you're having a crowd over and you can drink your favorite beverages right along side. Whether you are going for beer, cocktails or wine - the About.com drink guides have got your chili pairings covered.

Pairing Chili with Beer

Chili is one of those dishes where everyone has their own secret recipe. Usually these secret recipes include more hot peppers than should legally be allowed in one pot but there are plenty of ways that people enjoy chili. With such a variable dish one needs a flexible beer that can handle the heat, meat, beans, spices and whatever else people decide to throw on top like cheese, crackers or, in the case of some very peculiar pockets of the US, spaghetti. That beer is Vienna lager. The style may seem a little obscure but it's really not. Austrian brewers moved to Mexico in the 1800's and introduced their amber lager where it remains popular. Today it is sold under such brands as Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Amber throughout Mexico and the US. The sweet, caramelly beer is an excellent foil for dishes with a lot of heat making the style popular in Tex-mex restaurants. In the case of this chili the bright apple notes in the beer play nicely against the earthy notes of the beans and cumin spicing.

Pairing Chili with Cocktails

Chili is a very hearty meal and there's a lot going on in it so it is best to do the exact opposite with cocktails. Simple mixed drinks that are light in flavor, tall and refreshing make the best match with chili, do not compete with the complexity of the food, and help you wash it down - which is certainly necessary if you enjoy the spicier adaptation. Fitting drinks include the ever-refreshing Pimm's Cup, the whiskey-based Presbyterian and, if you do opt for those chiles, the Paloma with it's tequila base and soothing grapefruit soda. My personal tastes typically run to beer and it's usually a Black and Blue.

Pairing Chili with Wine

There are plenty of wine pairing options for chili, especially if you prefer red wines. For the red wine lovers, I'd suggest shooting for a red wine that strikes a good balance between its acidity and tannin content. Consider an Argentinian Malbec, a Shiraz, a Tempranillo or select Cabernet Sauvignons. These specific red wine varietals will be able to handle the meat, tomatoes and bit of traditional chili spice (cumin, chiles, etc.). The white wine fan would do well with an off-dry German or Alsace Riesling or even a sparkling wine like Cava - where the bubbles can help cut the spice. Finally, a dry Rose would be a very viable chili pairing option, especially if you don't want to go head on with a red, and aren't overly prone to consider white wines as chili contenders.

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