The Best Alcoholic Drinks To Pair With Vegan Chili

While it's great to have plant-based meat alternatives, there's no way you'll ever pass off Beyond Meat steak as filet mignon or cauliflower "wings" as chicken. Vegan chili is a different story, however, since with many recipes, the emphasis is on the spices used as well as the tomato-based sauce and legumes. For that reason, when a vegan chili is said to be indistinguishable from the meaty kind, we're inclined to extend the benefit of the doubt. That being said, we still wanted to check with a vegan food expert about the best kinds of booze to go with said chili, so we consulted with Priya Rao, a vegan food consultant who co-authored "The Social Herbivore: Perfect Pairings for Plant-based Cuisine" and also hosts The Social Herbivore. Rao's picks for vegan chili pairings would apply equally well whether the chili is meat-free or no.

As Rao proclaims, "There is no 'best' option," but suggests that beer is always a good bet because it frequently appears in chili recipes. With this in mind, anything from a hearty stout to a lager will do, as will a light or even non-alcoholic beer. As Rao explains, not only does beer possibly echo the flavors of the chili, but it "also cuts through the heat and spice by refreshing your palate between bites." If you prefer a malternative, though, she says you could choose a cider to accompany your chili, telling us, "The sweetness from the fruit will help counter the spice."

Wine or a cocktail is also an option

Of course, you needn't stick to beer or cider for your vegan chili-booze pairing. "If you're a wine fan," says Priya Rao, "look for a white such as a dry riesling." Riesling is often suggested as an accompaniment for spicy foods in general because its slight sweetness can help counter the heat. Sauvignon blanc is also well-suited for vegetable-based chili, while bubbly white wines like prosecco could be fun. Rosé is fruity enough to help offset the spice and complement the earthy flavors of vegan chili, and if you prefer red wine, tempranillo has a sufficiently bold flavor to stand up to this hearty dish

As for cocktails, lighter mixed drinks are the order of the day. A margarita with your chili might give you that Mexican restaurant feel, as would a beer-based michelada. Alternatively, a Paloma's refreshing simplicity would offset the complexity of the chili. Sangria, too, would make for a festive chili pairing, from a simple one made with cheap red wine, apples, and oranges to a white wine-based sangria made with tropical fruits.