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Here are our suggestions for wine varietals to pair with popular hot soups, celebrating the rich, spicy or creamy flavors in each. While each chili recipe is going to differ (as anyone who has been to a chili cook-off well knows), there are some commonalities: lots of spices, high-acid tomatoes and protein (ground meat or beans). To cut through all those spices and maintain the chili's heat, a fruit-forward, jammy Zinfandel is your best bet.
Soups with curry flavor -- whether they match it with chicken or root vegetables, like squash or pumpkin -- need a high-powered, muscular wine. An Aussie Shiraz can handle that, no problem.
A beloved comfort-food soup, broccoli and cheddar cheese, contains sharp and creamy flavors. Pinot Gris is a solid marriage with the broccoli, and will complement the cheddar, too. If you can find it, a cooler-climate Pinot Gris, such as those grown in Oregon, would work well, but so would Italian, Californian or Alsatian.
Pinot Noir's earthiness truly comes out when enjoyed with potato and leek soup. The soft structure of a Pinot Noir, combined with autumn spices on the nose, won't take center stage over the leeks and potatoes due to its lighter-body style.
As delicious as it is, a bowl of tomato soup is a difficult pairing for wine. Our suggestion is to unscrew or uncap a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. That zippy, gooseberry flavor won't compromise the tomatoes' acidity.
The dry, savory qualities in a bowl of French onion soup aren't that different from the experience of drinking an Argentinian Malbec. Inky-red in color and with earthy qualities, the dryness in each is a successful match.
And we would be remiss to not include chicken noodle soup in our list. A buttery California Chardonnay is the right balance for this protein-enriched soup and will bring out the soup's savory flavors. And if you're holed up inside with a cold, a complex white wine like Chardonnay is a nice distraction.