Green Chile Wine - Gastro Obscura


Green Chile Wine

In Southern New Mexico, chiles add a kick to everything, including vino.

The town of Hatch, New Mexico, is famous throughout the Southwest for its chiles, especially its green chiles. Whether filling tamales and enchiladas or topping pizzas and burgers, they’re an integral part of the state’s food culture. Every fall during the harvest, residents descend on grocery stores to buy giant bags of the the green peppers, which are then fire-roasted to bring out their smoky, spicy flavor.

New Mexico also has a long history of wine production, starting in the 17th century when Spanish monks planted vineyards to make wine for religious ceremonies. So it stands to reason that these two pillars of local agriculture and cuisine would eventually come together.

The St. Clair Winery, about a 45-minute drive southwest of Hatch, does just that. Vintners take roasted, chopped green chiles and soak them in cold white wine. The semisweet, slightly spicy result is Hatch Green Chile Wine. Although the green chiles are removed before bottling, they linger on in the drink’s light green tint and mild peppery aftertaste. Some diners pair the wine with Mexican food, while others mix it into sauces and marinades.

The winery follows a similar process with red chiles to make a smokier, spicier wine. Though they also remove the peppers, vintners add red chile puree to enhance the flavor. While it’s not quite as popular as the green variety, Hatch Red Chile Wine does have its fans who enjoy pairing it with chocolate desserts.

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