The holidays have ended, and winter has settled in. The long haul to spring starts now, but rather than pine for warmer days, enjoy the chance to warm up over a bowl of chili and a glass of rich red wine. Beef and beans make for an easy and quick weeknight recipe that even your teenager can make. A little sautéing, toss in some spices, tomatoes, beans, and voilà – dinner is served.

To Pair

California Zinfandel has long been a pairing partner to the spicy overtones of chili, despite the wine’s higher alcohol content (a classic no-no with heat). Why? The fat in the beef quells the ethanol’s warmth, while the sweetness in the wine’s ripe fruit soothes the cayenne’s heat. It’s a yin-yang harmony. 

Bottles to find 

Pedroncelli, Mother Clone Zin, 2015 for $19 or Lagier Meredith, Tribidrag (AKA Zinfandel), 2015 for $45. Covering two different price points depending on your budget, the first wine is a classic Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel filled with black and red berry fruit and a hint of baking spice. Concentrated flavors of raspberry and blackberry carry through on the long finish. For more than double the price from the Napa Valley, Tribidrag, the ancient name for Zinfandel in the Middle Ages, brings deft elegance and balance to a wine that can otherwise be robustly jammy. 



  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder* 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional for more heat)
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce, organic
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, organic
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney, pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Sour cream and chopped scallions, to garnish
  • *Homemade chili powder
    • 1⁄4 cup sweet paprika
    • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container.



1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add tomato paste and cook until slightly caramelized, 2 minutes. Add ground beef and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, garlic, pepper and cook another 4 minutes until soft. Add chili powder, cumin, and cayenne (optional). Stir to mix, cooking 2 minutes to release fragrance. 

2. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, honey, and salt. Cover with lid, and let cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and mix in beans. Cook another ten minutes on medium, heating beans through and melding flavors. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sour cream and scallions.