In an inspired All-American matchup, an earthy California red wine partners a smoky, spicy (and healthy!) chili.

Perfect Wine Match

Pairing wine with spicy chili can be a challenge; hot peppers can make a wine taste bitter and tannic. An off-dry wine is one solution, as sugar counterbalances heat. The problem is that such wines are usually white—not ideal for hearty dishes like this chili. A few red wines do, however, possess enough rich fruit and soft tannins to extinguish the peppers' fire. The 2000 Beckmen Vineyards Cuvée Le Bec ($14), a blend of Rhône grapes grown in Santa Barbara County, is a good choice; its soft cherry flavors harmonize with the cloves and cumin in the chili and coax out the natural sugar of the squash. Alternatively, the 2000 Jade Mountain La Provençale ($16) is an appealing blend of Rhône varieties grown in California, although its flavors are a bit more earthy and herbal than fruity.

—Jamal Rayyis

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