It’s almost Hatch season… almost. Perhaps it’s the anxiety of knowing I have just enough Hatch green chiles in my freezer for one more batch of enchiladas that caused the moment of weakness – the impulse to buy a “novelty” wine, this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the non-vintage Hatch Green Chile Wine.
Though familiar with Hatch chiles, it wasn’t until moving to the Southwest and experiencing them fresh by the burlap sackful, that I fell in love. Each season I buy what I think will be enough to freeze and hold me till the next season only to find that it’s never enough. The flavor of these chiles is so distinct - sort of like Vidalia onions. Though the same onion is grown elsewhere, they only taste like Vidalias if grown in Vidalia, GA. In this case, there is nothing like the peppers grown in New Mexico's Hatch Valley.
I refer to this wine as a novelty wine because it’s geared more toward the appreciator of Hatch chiles than the wine connoisseur. I’m not sure what this says about me, but I couldn’t resist.
First off, note that this wine isn’t made from chiles. It is a grape wine with chiles added. Grape wines are often described as having notes/aromas of other fruits, vegetables, berries and spices etc., but those notes are the result of the varietal, soil, climate, wine making process and how it’s aged. Therefore, it tends to be a more nuanced experience. In the case of this wine, it’s one note, and it’s blatant.
I’ve not been able to find the varietals used in this wine, though I'm confident Riesling is a significant part of the blend. The winemaker's (St. Clair Winery) fact sheet just states that it is a “proprietary blend”. The chiles are cold soaked in white wine and as a result the wine is infused with the flavor of fresh Hatch green chiles.
I found this to be about the palest wine I’ve ever seen – barely a hint of color in the glass. I was thrilled as I took in the unabashed, unmistakable scent of fresh Hatch green chiles. This is a semi-sweet wine with a round mouth feel and a clean peppery finish. The pepper on the palate was not as bold as the scent on the nose, but it’s prominent and expected.
For an infused wine, I feel this is very well done. For my personal taste, though I understand the approach, I wish it was just a little less sweet.
Pair with Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas (why not layer flavors?), or Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Click the links below to print or save the recipes.
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