Wings & Wine

Add a little class to bar food, with a non-vintage champagne paired with hot wings. There’s something so right about taking these two polar opposites and serving them up side by side. This is an unusual pairing that makes people scratch their heads at first, until they savor the first bite and sip. The creamy notes in the sparkling wine work in tandem with the blue cheese dressing to combat the heat of the wings. And the bubbles also offer a refreshing effect, cleansing the palate in between bites.  When you really think about paring beer and wings, this pairing makes great sense!  However, a little word of caution, if you like your wings extra hot, opt for an off-dry to sweeter Riesling or just grab that mug of beer!

Recommended Producers: Non-Vintage Champagne & Sparkling

Note: For more budget-friendly options, try a Cava, Prosecco or Sparkling Vouvray Demi-Sec. 

Jambalaya & Riesling

This dish can get quite spicy with the andouille sausage and the cayenne pepper in the creole seasoning. When it comes to spicy food and wine pairings, I immediately gravitate to Riesling.  I really like the way an-off dry Riesling cools the palate with a touch of residual sweetness and also  makes the flavors pop with its vibrant acidity. Contrary to popular belief,  not only Rieslings are sweet. They range from bone-dry with intense minerality to ice wine and they are perhaps the most food friendly wine on the planet. Riesling is known for its low alcohol content which make it work beautifully with spicy foods. Keep in mind, alcohol exacerbates spice.

If you use a milder sausage and want to try out a red wine with this dish, you can opt for a chilled Rioja. Sangria is also a crowd friendly favorite with a big pot of jambalaya. For this dish, I was inspired by Emeril’s Cajun Jambalaya Recipe. If you like your dish extra spicy, add some fresh jalapeños for garnish. If you use a milder

For an affordable weeknight pairing under $15, here are a few recommended producers that are widely available for purchase. These are all considered off-dry, with just a touch of residual sugar to cool your palate!

Recommended Producers 

High-Def Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $12)
Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $13)
Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (SRP: $14)

Five-Spice Chicken Soup & Riesling

Asian five-spice is a staple in my pantry, it adds so much flavor to so many dishes. This five-star soup recipe takes chicken soup to a whole new dimension.  The great thing about this soup is that you can pretty much add as many veggies as you like. I like my soup with an extra kick, so I added some jalapeno in addition to the five-spice which is typically a blend of (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, sichuan pepper & fennel).

I am opting for an off-dry Riesling to accentuate the five-spice powder in the soup.  Remember,  you want to pay attention to the spices and sauces when pairing wines.  I really like the way a Riesling cools the palate with a touch of residual sweetness and also  makes the flavors pop with its vibrant acidity. The best Rieslings in the world come from Germany, particularly from the regions of Mosel and Rheingau. The steep slate slopes add a minerality that can’t be found anywhere else. Riesling is also known for its piercing acidity that make it an incredible partner with an array of dishes.

For an affordable weeknight pairing under $15, here are a few recommended producers that are widely available for purchase.

Recommended Producers 

High-Def Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $12)
Dr. Loosen”Dr. L” Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $13)
Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (SRP: $14)

Recipe: Five-Spice Chicken Soup


2 tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil
1 leek (thinly sliced)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 jalapeño (seeded)
2 tbsp. five-spice (if you like a milder version, only add 1 tbsp and omit the jalapeno)
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 head bok choy (chopped)
1 red pepper (julienned)
1 cup broccoli (chopped)
1 zucchini (sliced)
2 cups shredded chicken
32 oz homemade chicken stock or organic
1 cup coconut milk
scallions (optional for garnish)


In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and add leeks. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes until translucent, add garlic and jalapeno and cook for about 30 seconds to release aromatics. Add 5 spice, salt & pepper and stir with veggies to release the oils in the spice. Add the rest of the veggies, chicken stock & coconut milk and let cook for about 30 minutes until all flavors are well combined. Add additional stock or water if needed to make sure veggies are covered. Add 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken and warm through. Serve immediately. Add chopped scallions for garnish.

When I don’t have time to make a roast chicken, I usually poach alot of chicken on Sundays and shred it while it’s warm. This way I have plenty of chicken on hand to add to weeknight recipes.  To poach chicken, take a large stock pot and add enough water or chicken stock to cover chicken breasts.  Add 1 tbsp. peppercorns, 1 tbsp. sea salt, 1 bay leaf, 1 tbsp. garlic powder and 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning to flavor the chicken.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat right away to low and cook another 15-20  minutes. Drain and let cool. Shred or slice chicken.

Chili & Zinfandel

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when pairing wine and chili. First, if you like 5-alarm chili, there isn’t a wine on the planet that will work well with it. The spice will completely take over the wine. You’re better off sticking with beer in this case. My “Zinful” Chili recipe has a nice zing that will work beautifully with a big jammy, spicy Zinfandel from California.  I also like to add some Zinfandel to the chili as another way to integrate the flavors. Another thing to keep in mind, alcohol tends to exacerbate the heat, so while Zinfandels tend to have higher alcohol it still works well if you serve it slightly chilled with a mild, flavorful chili. The warmer the wine the more pronounced the alcohol will appear. Chilling the Zinfandel also make the bright jammy fruits pop more on your palate.  A sparkling Malbec is also a fun alternative, but they are a bit difficult to find.

Recommended Producers

Recipe: Beef Chili (Paleo-friendly) 


1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (93%)
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 bell peppers (red, green & yellow), large dice
1 large yellow onion, large dice
1 jalapeño, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Zinfandel
1-28 oz can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock or beef stock (homemade) – if using a store bought broth, make sure it’s gluten-free and low-sodium


Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add ground beef and let brown for about 8-10 minutes. Drain off excess fat, then add garlic, jalapeno, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder & Italian seasoning and combine. Add 1/4 cup Zinfandel (optional). Then add peppers, onions, crushed tomatoes. For thicker chili just one cup of stock. Let simmer for an hour and serve. Garnish with fresh mashed avocados in place of sour cream and scallions. Serves 6-8.

One other note, since this is chili, I would recommend a budget friendly wine for this dish. You have alot of flavors going on, so the wine really won’t take center stage but play more of a supporting role.

Everyday Wine (Under $15)

Mid-Priced ($16-30)

  • Jelly Jar Zinfandel, Lake County, California (I absolutely adore this Zinfandel, but depending on where you live, it can be hard to find so you may need to buy it online direct from the vineyard, I included the link for your convenience)
  • Federalist Zinfandel, Dry Creek, California – Available at Yianni’s Wine Shop (Virginia Beach) & Total Wine