Chili dogs pair best with light to medium-bodied reds such as Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Malbec and Rosé. With their savoury, spicy, and satisfying flavours, Chilii dogs are a classic staple at ball games, fairs, drive-in theatres and at home when you’re in the mood for something filling and delicious.
Full-bodied red wines are a no-go with Chilli Dogs as Chili is full of tomatoes. As acidic fruit, Tomatoes will make tannin in full-bodied red wines taste metallic and flat. Of course, not all Chili is created equal, so if you have a Chili that is light on the tomato, go ahead and crack that bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon open!
Stop! Chili with warm spices, like hot peppers or chillies, won’t like the high-alcohol or tannin in your Cabernet Sauvignon either. Alcohol and tannin will make those hot spices rage even hotter. But if your Chili is mild, it should go great with your bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, so go ahead and crack it open.
Wait!!! Don’t do that just yet. Also, remember that the bun of your Chili Dog is a vital ingredient. A good Chili Dog Bun needs to be tasty but not fragile, or else you’ll end up with a soggy mess in your lap. I find full-bodied reds overwhelm the flavour of a Chili Dog Bun, and I want to taste the bun when I bite into that sucker. A bun balances out the whole Chili Dog experience as it absorbs the sauce while projecting toasty flavours of goodness. Thus, my advice is to stick with lighter reds and whites.
The Chili you use might be meatless or loaded with meat (Chilli Con Carne/Texas Style Chilli). Furthermore, your Chilli dogs might be loaded with melted shredded cheese (Chilli Cheese Dog), which will change the flavour of your Chili Dog considerably. I’ll put these considerations into the headings of my pairings below to help you pick the perfect wine!
Best Wine with Chili Dogs
Zinfandel & Chili Dog Pairing
With its jammy fruit characteristics, a medium-bodied Zinfandel is an excellent choice to pair with chilli dogs. The ripe berry flavours and smoky notes of a Zinfandel contrast and complement the heat and intensity of the chilli, creating a delightful contrast that enhances both the wine and the dish.
Zinfandel tastes like you’d expect the Fourth of July to taste like. It’s somewhat sweet like ketchup, full of smoke, spice, and black pepper, but also balanced with blackberry, cherry, chocolate and raspberry. If there isn’t anything that sounds better than that to go with your Chili Dog, then I don’t know what to tell you.
(Just kidding! I have 4 more wine pairings with Chili Dogs explanations below!
Beaujolais & Chili Dog Pairing
Beaujolais pairs well with any type of Chili Dog as this light-bodied red wine is easygoing, light in alcohol and juicy. With soft flavours of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and plum, Beaujolais goes down easy, keeping you refreshed. Being low in alcohol also makes Beaujolais a winner, as your Chili dog could have some heat to it. High-alcohol wine makes spices burn even hotter, making your chilli taste like a raging fire.
Beaujolais is also lightly earthy, spicy and mineral, meaning that it will go along great with your chilli dog’s earthy and spicy flavours.
Rosé & Chili Cheese Dog Pairing
If you’re looking for a wine with a touch of sweetness to balance the spiciness of chilli dogs, consider a dry Rosé. The bright acidity and crispness of Rosé can refresh your palate and cut through the richness of the chilli and cheese. Its red berry and citrus notes provide a delightful contrast to the savoury and spicy elements of the dish, making it a surprisingly versatile pairing option.
I like Rosé with a Chili Cheese dog, as this is an acidic wine, yet it has the right amount of flavour not to get in the way. Instead, Rosé blasts you with refreshment after each bite. The acidity works hard at scrubbing the cheesy fats from your taste buds so you are able to taste the next bite. Otherwise, by the time you’re at the end of your Cheese Dog, you won’t be tasting much of anything as your tongue’s flavour sensors will have been nuked by the onslaught of carbs, fats, and proteins found it the cheese, beans and hot dog.
Malbec & Chili Con Carne Dog Pairing
Malbec, a red wine known for its rich and smooth profile, can be a surprising but delightful partner for chilli dogs. Its dark fruit flavours, such as blackberry, cherry and plum, can provide a pleasant contrast to the spiciness of the chilli. You’ll also find notes of violet, chocolate spice, earth and white pepper in Malbec that jive with the chilli and hot dog experience.
Finally, Malbec’s soft tannins (if from Argentina as France has much firmer Tanin) and balanced acidity help soothe your palate after each bite, making it an ideal companion for those who prefer a milder wine experience.
Cabernet Franc & Meatless Chili Dog Pairing
A medium-boded Cabernet Franc is delicious with a meatless Chili Dog. With Meatless Chili, you’ll have more flavours of beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and spices. Cabernet Franc is known for its flavours of herbs, green bell peppers and earth, making it wonderful with any veggies diced up in your meatless chilli.
Cabernet Franc is also soft and velvety, with rich flavours of blackberry, cassis, plum, cherry and raspberry. These fruit flavours contrast the hot dog and the chilli, providing lots of refreshment and softening any Chili Dog burps further down the road.
Cabernet is most famous for being one of the blending grapes in Bordeaux, however, you’ll find many single varietal bottles in your wine shop from around the globe. Being from Ontario, I feel Niagara makes excellent Cabernet Franc, with my favourites being from Tawse, Pilitari Estates and Henry of Pelham. California, New Zealand, Australia and Italy also produce fantastic Cabernet Franc.