Concha y Toro

Ania Smolec 22/06/2016

Chilean wines and sauces: spicing up the Creole flavors



Chilean food is tasty, filling and nutritious. It is based on meat, seafood and vegetables, often highlighted with delicious sauces. How these sauces influence wine pairings? I invite you to a journey to the heart of Chilean flavors.

Camarones pil-pilThe modern Chilean food is Creole. It was born of a merger between native products and customs, and recipes that Europeans brought to the New World. Chilean dishes are based on a variety of proteins from land and sea, but also abundant flavors from gardens and forests. Several recipes like charquicán, porotos granados (bean stew) or casseroles, are very complex and nutritious. Some sauces impart flavor to softer and delicate preparations, while other ones refresh dishes with rich and warm flavors. For each recipe, you can find the perfect sauce and wine.

In the menu of any Chilean restaurant you can see that a plate is composed of a protein like chicken, hash, steak or fish; a side dish like potatoes, rice or salad; and finally a sauce. Depending on your preference, and the angles that the cook wants to accentuate to balance a plate, sauces can be vibrant, spicy, soft or refreshing.

Salsa verde

A good example of a Creole recipe is the pil-pil sauce. You can find it in Spain, but in Chile it takes on a new dimension. Imagine seafood sautéed in olive oil with garlic and fresh cacho de cabra (which means “goat horn” in Spanish) chili. This sauce can light a fire in your mouth. So for some shrimp pil-pil I recommend two ways to make a good pairing: choose a sparkling wine, such as Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection Brut, where the effect of the bubbles cools the dish. The other option is to choose a slightly sweet wine, such as Frontera Moscato. Its sweetness acts as a rich counterpoint to the spicy chili.

In Chile you can taste various kinds of peppers, from mild and soft, like green or yellow pepper, until very hot red peppers, like rocoto. A very well known sauce in Chile, which is used throughout the year is the green sauce. To prepare it you need chopped green pepper, garlic, salt, olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs like coriander and / or parsley. This rich and fresh sauce seasons and refreshes every dish perfectly.

Pebre | CC Sebastian Ignacio Saavedra Meza
Pebre | CC Sebastian Ignacio Saavedra Meza

If you use a rich green sauce with clams or fish, I recommend you to choose an equally fresh wine, like Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc. If you are tempted by a hotdog with green sauce, I suggest you go for a delicious Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Rosé. And if you like the red meat of a homemade burger, seasoned with this green delight, I recommend you a medium bodied red wine, as Casillero del Diablo Merlot.

If you add some finely chopped tomatoes to the green sauce, you get another Chilean classic sauce called pebre. Chileans serve it as an appetizer with marraqueta type bread. They also add it to soups, stews and bean recipes. And they naturally season the choripanes or grilled meats with it. This sauce is usually very smooth and refreshes your plate with tomatoes, green pepper, onion and coriander.

Chancho en piedra | CC Renzo Disi
Chancho en piedra | CC Renzo Disi

If your dish is vegetarian, as the mentioned bean stew, try it with Frontera Specialties País. And if the pebre accompanies a sealed grilled meat, like a juicy beef, I suggest to consider the weight of the protein in the mouth and uncork a delicious Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon.

A rich and ripe tomato is not only the star ingredient of summer, but also the base of another Chilean sauce called chancho en piedra. The roots of this recipe come from the Maule region. It is prepared with skinless tomatoes, crushed in mortar together with onions and garlic. Some cooks innovate and add green pepper and herbs. The recipes depend on the traditions of each family or restaurant. The common denominator is that knife should not be used in this recipe. Whole tomatoes should get ground manually into a plate made of stone.

You can consume this sauce in a very traditional way, with a tasty sopaipilla (pumpkin bun) and a wine as Frontera Cabernet Blush. Or serve it with your favorite cut of meat. For example, for a baked pork rack, choose Casillero del Diablo Carmenere, but if your choice is a stronger beef strip, uncork Casillero del Diablo Shiraz.

The modern Chilean cuisine is in a permanent process of transformation, but there are aspects that remain forever. My favorite sauce is the pebre with avocado, simple and versatile, prepared with some of the best Chilean ingredients. When I add it to a grilled fish, I choose Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay. But if I serve it as an appetizer with a fresh cheese, my choice is Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio. As some chefs say, if a recipe is prepared with Chilean ingredients and its flavor transports us to this corner of the world, we have no possibility of getting lost. On this trip, sauces are one of the best means to reach us to the heart of Chilean cuisine.

Pebre with avocado

Ingredients for 4 people

Pebre de palta

  • 1 avocado cut into cubes
  • 1 green or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of coriander, parsley, fresh basil chopped
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Salt to taste
  • Merquén
  • Half cup olive oil


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl and leave it in the refrigerator for an hour.