food.and.wine.pairing

(pairing wine with chicken)


Pairing with chicken is both straightforward and complicated at the same time.

The easy answer for chicken is to go with Chardonnay. You'll be fine with one from just about anywhere in the world, but the slightly rounder, full bodied ones from California and parts of Burgundy (like Meursault) tend to work the best.

Chicken can get complicated because it is rarely served just roasted or all by itself, and since the flavor of chicken is somewhat mild, the added ingredients often play a major flavor role. These added flavors affect your wine choice.

If served in a cream sauce, stick with that fat, round, buttery Chardonnay. Throw some mushrooms into that sauce, and you can hit a light bodied red such as a Pinot Noir. (Note that many Pinots from California and other New World regions are bold and fruity, so you'll be better off sticking with a French Pinot Noir from Burgundy.)

If served with fruit (such as chutney or an apricot salsa) then try a Viognier. This wine is similar in weight and body to Chardonnay, but with more peach and apricot flavors, and less citrus.

Red wine can also work with chicken - particularly if the chicken is served with tomatoes or a tomato sauce. You'll want a light bodied red; the acid in tomatoes makes Chianti or any other Sangiovese-based red a good choice.

You can get away with bolder red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo or Malbec if the chicken has lots of spices and flavors (or barbeque sauce) all over it that drown out the chicken flavor. In this case, sinces the spice are already competing with the chicken, you are really more focused on pairing with those flavors rather than the chicken itself.