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Game day chili

Jacqueline Zonkowski
Wine Pairings: Red Blend

Spicy chili will meet its match with a Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Washington state


Savvy match: So many fantastic wines will pair well with this game day chili that it’s almost hard to narrow it down to one pairing. I will open up the wine range and recommend that you try a red blend for this recipe. We recommend trying one that has either a Cabernet Sauvignon or Grenache base. Many of these medium-bodied wines with higher tannins and acidity will help cut through the spice and dense flavors in this chili recipe for your next game day or rainy day. Washington state is known for its red blends and often are some of the best value red wines available.

Chili is one of those recipes that has so many variations. Whether your family has a tried and true recipe or your region of the world ads something unique like cinnamon in a Cincinnati chili, there will be a recipe for everyone. This is why narrowing down a specific wine can vary because while we use ground beef for our game day chili, another person may prefer chicken or turkey. If this is the case, you can likely still pair your dish with one of our recommended red blends depending, on spice levels. So feel free to make this dish your own, add toppings that you love, and make it a great game day experience!


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed or finely diced
  • 4-5 poblano peppers medium diced, or fire roasted 
  • ¼ cup of your favorite dry red table wine (I don’t believe in cooking with wine that I wouldn’t drink)
  • ground beef, or equal parts beef, pork, and veal for additional flavor or substitute chicken for lower fat version (2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, or whole tomatoes in juice crushed by hand
  • 15 ounce can of kidney or black beans drained and rinsed



Heat Dutch Oven over medium high heat, and add olive oil. Once oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes.


Add garlic and stir gently for one minute so that the garlic does not burn. Once the garlic is well incorporated into the onions, add all of the peppers and cook until peppers begin to soften. Once everything is beginning to soften, add the ground beef. 


Once beef is browned, add the red wine to deglaze any browned bits left on the bottom of the pot. Allow the wine to reduce by about half then add dry ingredients and mix well. Add the tomatoes, and bring to a simmer.


After 30 minutes stir the chili well, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure nothing is burning to the bottom. If it is, reduce the heat.


Now the fun part! Taste the chili and do your own assessment of spices and flavors. If you think it needs more dry spices, add them now. We haven’t added any salt yet, so you will need to add salt a tablespoon at a time until it is where you like it.


Cook for 15 more minutes and taste. Add more spices as you see fit and stir in the beans, and cook for another 15 minutes. If at any point you think the chili is getting too thick, add water. Not thick enough, cook longer. Enjoy with sour cream, diced scallions, shredded cheese, your favorite people, football, and a glass of Tempranillo. 

Chef Image

About Jacqueline Zonkowski

As an avid traveler, Jacqueline started finding herself in popular wine regions around the world, fueling her passion for food and wine. When she isn't traveling you will find her at home with a glass of wine in hand and a smile on her face while tasting new recipes with her Chef husband. She received her WSET Level II Certification with Distinction, Argentina Wine Specialist, and Oregon Wine Expert certifications. Jacqueline has worked in the wine marketing and hospitality industry for many years. She continues to increase her wine knowledge and looks forward to creating her own wine one day.