Tag Archives: Zinfandel


Recipe #2 – basic, everyday, nothing-fancy chili.  You can cook this in as little as an hour, or let it simmer all afternoon.  I make mine medium-spicy; feel free, of course, to adjust as you see fit. I’ll post my recipe for white chili sometime later in the winter – it’s even faster. 

I’ll probably crack open a Zinfandel or Rhone blend to have with this, but that’s hours from now.


Serves 6. Prep time: 30 minutes. Total time: 1 hour, but can be held for up to 3.

  • 2 lb ground or cubed chuck beef (can also use cubed venison, but be careful not to overcook)
  • 3 large onions, coarsely diced
  • 2 cans each light red and dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can each tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup jalapeños
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 3 cups water
  1. Put the beans, tomatoes, jalapeños, chili powder, and water in a large pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. In the meanwhile, saute the meat and onions together in small batches until the meat is browned and the onions have softened. If using venison, use canola oil and only cook until the outside of the cubes are lightly browned. Add each batch of meat and onions to the other ingredients as you finish it.
  3. Cover the pot loosely and cook for at least 30 minutes. Stir and check every 30 minutes to make sure that the temperature isn’t too high, and that there’s enough liquid – I like my chili on the soupy side.

Top with grated sharp cheddar, and serve with cornbread or crackers. 

Drinking Tonight: Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel

I made a spicy pot of chili tonight, so what better to have with that than a spicy old-vine Zin – especially considering that I got the bottle on sale last week? Bogle makes this from 60- to 80-year-old vines grown in Lodi and Amador Counties – two of the best spots in California for old-vine Zin.

Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel (2011) California – $11

Photo0263Color: reddish purple, quite dark and fresh looking.

Aroma: black pepper and warm spice, followed immediately by some plummy fruit. Reminds me of an Alsatian plum tart.

Taste: cherry, plum, and berry fruit balanced with black pepper. Just a touch of nutmeg and toasted oak towards the back of the palate. A good finish, with better-than-expected length.

This is a lovely counterpoint to the jalapeno, beef, onion, cayenne, and tomato in the chili. It’s a good bottle to get on hand, but if you’re facing the normal Ohio retail price of $16 to $18, I think there are better deals to be had. Buy this only when you can get it on sale.

Drinking Tonight: VINTJs Old Vine Zinfandel

Another Trader Joe’s exclusive wine, $8.  This is a 2011, the vines are at least 30 years old, and it’s from Lodi – one of the key heritage Zin regions in California.  I’m having this with some barbequed chicken.

Photo0216Color: a solid purple-red, with good intensity.

Aroma: smoky bacon and peppercorns – this is 14.5% alcohol, so make sure it’s not too warm, or else you’ll just get heat on the nose.

Taste: this runs spice-fruit-spice as it flows over your tongue; the finish is 15+ seconds of spice, smoke, and cigar box.

This is not quite spicy enough to stand up to a 3-alarm barbeque sauce; it’s better with a smoky-sweet style. Excellent texture and body, and the price is excellent. Recommended!



Drinking Tonight: Old Moon Zinfandel and Tres Pinos Red

Two old favorites from Trader Joe’s, along with some ribs – I need some comfort food tonight. Tres Pinos is a Cab-Merlot-Syrah blend, equal thirds.

Old Moon Old Vine Zinfandel (2010) California, $8.00

Color: Purple shading to black-purple in the center, nice and dense.

Aroma: cassis and blackberry, with some heat. Some white pepper, not picking up any black pepper.

Taste: Ah, there’s the pepper. Black pepper, white pepper, the fruit is full but not quite jammy, and there’s sufficient acidity to make this a food wine. Quite nice for $8.

Tres Pinos Red (2010) San Luis Obispo, California, $7.00

Color: Purple with some red, darker than I remember previous vintages.

Aroma: Gentle plummy fruit, a touch of woodsmoke.

Taste: Meaty – the Syrah really shows up in the mouth, with some cherry and plum fruit from the Merlot. Not tasting the Cab at all, really, except for the tannic contribution in the mid-palate. The finish is jammier. This is much more a California wine than a Rhone style; drinkable but not sophisticated, full but not long. 

You know, they both go well with these ribs; they’re precooked, and the sauce is a little sweeter and less spicy than I normally would use if making from scratch. The Zin outpoints the blend slightly, but they are both pleasant with the meat.