Wining Wife®

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Tag: Chateau Ste. Michelle

“Secret” Ingredient Chili to Knock Your Socks Off

ChiliOkay, so it’s been a little while since I’ve posted a recipe on here; it’s about time I did! I actually have two chili recipes. One, my seven pepper chili recipe, I’ll have to share later. It’s super spicy, and since I’m breastfeeding, and little man is not as much a fan of the spice as the rest of us, I won’t be making it for a bit. The other is a recipe I’ve been perfecting for a little while, and I’m ready to share it. It is delicious.

April_01__2016_at_0616PMYou see, a few months ago, I got the bright idea that perhaps I should do something to keep the heat in the chili (because, let’s face it, who wants chili that’s not very spicy?). This “secret” ingredient to my chili not only allows me to keep the heat, but it makes it so that the chili pairs really nicely with some of the richer wines in our cellar. In fact, the first time I made it, I paired it with a Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Cold Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has subtle notes of chocolate and nutmeg. 

Guess what I added to the chili?

I added chocolate and nutmeg. I know! It seems so crazy, but I was thinking if a Mexican molé is made with chocolate to help tame the spice and add richness, why can’t I add it to my chili. And, I’m sure there are like five thousand chocolate chili recipes out there that already exist. 

It's hard to think this big guy was once a picky eater.

It’s hard to think this big guy was once a picky eater.

Here’s a funny story before I get to the recipe. When my oldest son (that’s him in his bowling team photo) was much younger, say 5, he was an extremely picky eater. I taught him to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches based upon a suggestion from another mom friend, and that curbed a lot of the picky eating habits (if he didn’t want what I’d made, he could make himself such a sandwich). However, it didn’t curb all of the picky eating. He just wouldn’t eat any red meats or pork or chicken. He liked chocolate. So, when he would say “What’s for dinner?” I would say, “Steak.” He would respond with, “I don’t like steak.” I would respond with, “But it’s chocolate steak. You like chocolate.” Guess what? He would eat said steak. Then he would say “I don’t like steak; but I like chocolate steak.”

I added this dark beer to the chili in addition to the chocolate.

I added this dark beer to the chili in addition to the chocolate – and it made a nice beverage to enjoy with the chili at dinner!

Of course, there was no chocolate in the steak, or the chicken, or the pork. I lied to my kid. There it is. He found out about it several months later at my sister’s house in New Orleans. Her kids were all “That’s not chocolate!” And so, yeah, the spell was broken, but he would pretty much eat anything I made following that. 

So, I think of that story when I make this chili.  Of course, there is chocolate in this recipe. 

So this time around, I used canned beans. It made enough for 3 adult and 1 toddler-sized portions for 4 days. Crazy, right? I wanted to spend time unpacking and doing taxes instead of cooking, though, so that’s what I did. I served it over couscous with some cheddar cheese. 



Wining Wife's® "Secret" Ingredient Chili
Chili with the added benefit of chocolate added
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  1. 6 14 oz. cans of kidney beans
  2. 2 14 oz. cans of black beans
  3. 2 28 oz. cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  4. 1 12 oz. bottle of dark beer
  5. 1 bar of Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chocolate
  6. 1 lb. of pork Italian sausage
  7. 1 lb. of chicken Italian sausage
  8. 2 onions
  9. 4 cloves of garlic
  10. 1 packet of your favorite chili mix
  11. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  12. 1 tsp cumin
  13. 1 tsp nutmeg
  14. 1 tsp oregano
  15. 1 tsp thyme
  16. 1 tsp cilantro
  17. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  18. 1 tsp sea salt
  19. 1 4oz can chopped hot chilies
  20. 1 bell pepper
  21. several grinds of black pepper
  1. Chop onion and sauté in 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Once onion becomes transparent, add garlic, seasoning packet, and other dried herbs. When fragrant, add the sausage and brown sausage. Deglaze pan by adding the bottle of beer. Cook until beer reduces, about 7 minutes. Rinse canned beans and add them to the pot along with the tomatoes, canned diced chilies, and bell pepper. If needed, add water or broth to pot until beans are just barely covered. Stir well and bring to a boil. Once boiling, break chocolate bar up and add to pot. Cook until beans are tender. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over couscous with cheese and sour cream.
Wining Wife®

Wine Clubs – Are They Worth It?

Old vintage wine in the wine cellars of Cojuşn...

Don’t let your wine club selections look like this! Be sure you select memberships that you will participate in and enjoy! (Old vintage wine in the wine cellars of Cojuşna winery, outside Chisinau, Moldova. (Photo credit: Wikipedia))


We all have our favorite wineries, and it is very tempting to sign up for wine clubs. The question is, “Are wine clubs worth the cost?” Wine clubs often offer special perks for their customers – free tastings at the winery, wine club member only events, and discounts. It can be really easy to over-commit yourself to wine clubs in the beginning. Because of this it may be helpful to consider some of the following tips when you are joining a vineyard’s wine club.


  1. Don’t join on the first tasting. If you’ve had the wine before, great, that’s fine. But if this is your first experience with the winery, make sure to visit again if you can. Sometimes the heat of the moment will cause you to make a regrettable decision.
  2. While you don’t have to pay for your club selections until they come, make sure you can afford the clubs you belong to. The costs add up quickly, especially if you are having wines shipped. Create a budget and stick to it. Otherwise, you may have a surprise Visa bill every three months.
  3. Be sure you understand the terms of the club. Will you need to pick the wines up at the winery? Do they select the wines or do you select the wines? Can you pick up at any time or do you have to pick up during an event? What is your obligation?
  4. Don’t be afraid to cancel clubs that aren’t working for you after the initial obligation. Let’s face it, once in a while in the heat of the moment you sign up for a wine club and you regret it. Fulfill your obligation and move on.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get to know the vintner. Usually he or she will be happy to talk to you about the wine crafting process.





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2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Horse Heaven Chenin Blanc


This lovely wine had citrus notes to it. The wine was created at the Horse Heaven Vineyard, and we purchased it from Chateau Ste. Michelle when we did the winery tour. The Horse Heaven Chenin Blanc was light and easy drinking. It makes a great summer wine. The only thing about this wine I don’t like is that it’s gone!

We paired this wine with fish and wax beans. It would go well with an artichoke heart and feta cheese pasta dish the Wining Husband makes. It would also go well with a chicken curry. There was a ginger bouquet to the wine that was quite lovely.

Have you had this wine? What were your thoughts about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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Swedish Meatballs and 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Ethos Chardonnay Reserve

Tonight for dinner, I made chicken Swedish meatballs and we paired it with a 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Chardonnay Reserve.

Chateau Ste. Michelle

Chateau Ste. Michelle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Swedish meatballs recipe came courtesy of Cooking Light. I’ve made it many times before, however, usually instead of the rye bread, I use a garlic bread produced by our local supermarket. This time, I used sourdough bread. While the recipe was still quite delicious, it wasn’t as spectacular as it had been in the past.

Because the sauce is based on light sour cream, the creamy texture of the Chardonnay was lovely. The sauce helped to bring out the buttery qualities of the Chateau Chardonnay. This pairing is highly recommended (and the recipe is even lower in fat than you would think!)

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Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Wines


Chateau Ste. Michelle

Chateau Ste. Michelle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I’m going to be candid for a moment. I’m not a big fan of Merlot. However, the first really good wine I had was a Merlot – and it was a Chateau Saint Michelle Merlot. I had it at a restaurant in Chicago, when I’d moved out that way in order to attend graduate school in philosophy. It wasn’t until Wining Husband and I toured the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery that I realized, upon tasting their Merlot, that it was this particular beverage that was responsible for turning me on to wine.


They do a good job on their wines. The winery is located in Woodinville, Washington. They are known for their Riesling. While I found their Riesling quite good, I think the stars of the show were the Ethos Chardonnay, the Merlot, and the Cabernet Franc that we tried on the tour.

It’s definitely worth seeking them out – especially the wines only available through the winery – the wines are almost all reasonably priced, and they are well worth it.

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