WHAT: I love it when the weather turns cool and I can start making hearty soups and stews and drinking hearty red wine to match. We had the Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 with chili, and the pairing couldn’t have been better.
Many people drink beer with their chili, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I really think a good red wine is a much better match. There’s something about the fruit and the tannins mixing with the spice and meat of the chili to produce a little winter cocoon.
The Wild Horse Central Coast Cab is a medium-bodied, fruit-forward wine that lets the food take center stage, but still delivers wonderful flavor. It has nice aromas of cherries and butterscotch with a velvety taste of cherry and strawberry. It has smooth tannins and a long finish.
The wine is 99 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 percent Syrah, with 91 percent of the grapes coming from Paso Robles and 9 percent from Monterey. Wild Horse has decided to change the appellation on the wine from Paso Robles to Central Coast to reflect the importance of the fruit that comes from the warm region of Monterey County. The Central Coast AVA is gaining a reputation for producing great wines.
After fermentation in open and closed-topped tanks, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in the barrel. The wine was aged in a mix of French, American and Hungarian barrels (25 percent new) and racked twice during 14 months in the cellar.
I would drink this wine young and slightly chilled.
WINERY: Founder Ken Volk bought his first vineyard in 1981 and produced his first wines two years later, 125 cases of Pinot Noir and 450 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The name comes from the wild mustangs that once roamed the hills east of the estate vineyards in Templeton, just south of Paso Robles. The mustang on the label also happens to be the mascot of Volk’s alma mater, Cal Poly.
The winery tries to follow its motto: “Live Naturally, Enjoy Wildly.” It is committed to sustainable farming and letting the diversity of the region show through in its wines. The winery calls its approach ‘attentive neglect.’ That means staying out of the way whenever possible and letting the climate, soil and grape variety call the shots.
They are known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but produce more than a dozen different varietals, including some grapes rarely grown in the United States.
GOES WITH: Chili is a staple around our house in the winter, and I make several different styles. We had the Wild Horse with my favorite: straight out of the freezer. I had made a batch of quick and easy chili with ground beef and kidney beans some time ago and had frozen the leftovers for a night when I was feeling lazy.
My wife, Teri, and I pulled the chili out of the freezer, zapped it, served it over spaghetti with cheese crumbled on top and chopped tomatoes and crackers on the side, and we had a feast. We added cut fresh veggies as a salad.
The fruit-forward Cab mellowed out the spiciness of the chili, without ruining the flavor. You have to be careful when pairing wine with chili. Wines that are too muscular or too wimpy just don’t taste good with chili. This was perfect.
The wine also would go well with pizza, burgers, steak, pork loin, lamb and aged cheeses.