Smokey Merlot Chili with Beans

"This is a version of classic chili that I grew up eating with some twists over the years to make it have more depth of flavor as my aging tastes have changed. This chili has beans so settle down Texas. Beans were cheaper than beef and stretched a dollar with a large family."

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

90 minutes

Paired With

Main Protein



Olive Oil 4 Tbsp, 1, 2 lbs, 4 oz, 6 oz can, 7 oz can, 30 oz can, 16 oz can, 16 oz can, 4 cloves, 2 Tbsp, 2 Tbsp, 1 cup, 1, To taste, 1 cup, 2, 4 oz, 4 oz, 2 sleeves, 4 oz
Yellow Onion (large) diced
Ground Beef (80/20)
Black Box Merlot
Tomato Paste
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (finely chopped or pureed)
Whole peeled crushed tomatoes
Kidney beans (drained)
Pinto Beans (drained)
Garlic (minced)
Chili Powder
Smoked Paprika
Beef Broth/Stock
Habanero Pepper (seeded and halved)
Salt and Peper
Sour Cream
Green onion (diced)
Cheddar Cheese
Bacon (crumbled)


  • Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). 
  • Add the beef and cook until just browned, breaking up the meat with a meat chopper or wooden spoon (about 5-8 minutes).
  • Make a hole in the meat and onion mixture to get to the bottom of the pan, add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste to the bottom of pan and cook for another minute.
  • Add Merlot and beef stock to deglaze the pot, being sure to stir thoroughly and scrape any baked on goodness from the bottom. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, chipotle pepper, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, add habanero halves, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    • Depending on desired heat level you can remove the habanero pepper or swap for a  cooler pepper (jalapeno) or hotter pepper (ghost pepper). I’d only recommend one half a ghost pepper for a pot of chili as that will push the heat tolerance of most people.
    • Depending on desired thickness, simmer partially covered or uncovered to reduce liquid.
  • Stir in drained and rinsed beans into the pot and cook until beans are hot (15 minutes).
    • Don’t overcook the beans. I prefer the beans to add a little texture to the chili and cooking canned beans too long can turn them to mush. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste prior to serving in bowls.
  • Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onion, and bacon crumbles. Serve with buttered saltine crackers.