White Bean Turkey Chili + Gamay Noir

Cold rainy days call for chili, and when you don’t eat red meat like I don’t, you make it with turkey and white beans and a dash of the local produce to stir up this spicy, peppery bowl of warmth, and I paired it with a perfect red wine to complement the earthy flavors.

I started out with a tray of tomatillos, which got roasted and toasted and all nice and juicy until their guts spilled out.

These sweet, acidic gems were added to a pot of sautéing peppers — pasilla, jalapeño, Serrano, bell. Then ground turkey, then big ol white beans, nice and starchy to balance out the varying spices and sweetness and earthiness from the peppers. Top it off with a hearty squeeze of lime and handful of cilantro, and it’s a bowl of pure goodness.

With such a loud bowl of flavor, a lighter, smoother wine is going to play the right complementary role without adding contrasting flavors or trying to compete for center stage. Too high tannins will taste astringent against the spices, while having not enough body will allow the chili to overpower the wine. It’s all about balance.

A sharp, acidic white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Gruner Vetliner could work well here, lending some nice citrus and herbal notes to match the peppers. A light red wine can work great too, like a delicate, earthy Pinot Noir or Gamay.

I poured 2021 Pax Gamay Noir Alta Monte. It’s a light red hailing from Sonoma, CA, made from Gamay grapes (you may know them from Beaujolais) with notes of dark fruits and spices, and lovely acidity that lifts it all up and makes it a perfect drink with spicy chili.