The Best Wine To Pair With Chicken

Chicken lovers; you’re in for a treat with this article!

Whether you’re a fried chicken supporter, a casserole connoisseur, or simply believe that a good bottle and a roast chicken are the perfect combinations, then here are some of the best wine pairings for your dishes. 

The Best Wine To Pair With Chicken

In the United States, chicken is by far one of the most popular types of meat available. In fact, its popularity continues to grow each day. 

When it comes to pairing this meat with wines, the possibilities are endless! Depending on how the chicken is prepared, there are countless mouth-watering options. 

The best part? You aren’t only restricted to white wine, either. 

While white wine with chicken tends to be the go-to choice – this is particularly true when it comes to Chardonnay –, this isn’t as concrete as you may believe. 

Lighter red wines with acidity, including Gamay or Pinot Noir, can make a great alternative, too. Plus, heavier-bodied wines can work great with heavier dishes, like casserole. 

The basic rule of thumb is that you don’t want to overpower the meat or the meal. For instance, a wine with a decent acidity and a bigger kernel of luscious fruit can work with richer dishes.

However, too much tannic can overpower the entire dish. 

With this in mind, this article will explore everything you need to know about the best wine to pair with chicken. 

Let’s get straight into it! 

Is White Or Red Wine Better With Chicken?

While you can enjoy both white and red wine with your chicken, this is largely dependent on how you’re preparing your chicken and the type of wine you prefer. 

For instance, Miso Chicken tends to go great with Pinot Noir, as well as other low-tannin red wines. 

On the other hand, Spinach & Artichoke Chicken is creamy and pairs better with bright and acidic wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc.

Chicken with a lemon butter sauce is delicious with a rich Chardonnay while a Chicken Marsala goes amazing with Merlot. 

Keep reading to find some more delicious and varied wine pairings that you need to try. 

Helpful Tips

When it comes to pairing wine with chicken, the general rule of thumb is that you should pair the chicken with the ingredients and sauce used in preparation as opposed to the chicken. 

Generally, the wine-pairing rule is that white wine goes with white meat while red wine goes with red meat. However, of course, this rule isn’t set in stone. 

This rule is generally used since white wine is milder and doesn’t overpower white meat. 

However, since chicken is so versatile and can take on different seasonings and flavors during preparation, it makes for incredibly wine-friendly meat. 

Thanks to its range of preparation methods, there is no single type of wine that pairs the best. The flavorings and sauce (cream-based, tomato, herb) is the main determining factor. 

Additionally, personal preference should be taken into account, too.

Continue reading to find out some of the most popular chicken preparations and the best complimenting wine. 

The Best Wine To Pair With Chicken

Chicken And White Wine Pairings

Creamy Chicken Dishes And Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a wine best known for its smooth, buttery taste (see also “Best Chardonnay Wine For Any Budget“). Upon first taste, your mouth is enveloped in creaminess while keeping a delicious citrus tone. 

Thanks to the velvety mouthfeel provided by Chardonnay, there is no dish that tastes quite as delicious as rich and creamy chicken dishes, like chicken pot pie or fettuccine alfredo. 

Some wine suggestions include:

  • Lewis Cellars Chardonnay Reserve Napa Valley
  • Domaine Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles White Burgundy 
  • Patria Chardonnay ‘Charlie Smith’ Moon Mountain Sonoma Valley
  • Martinelli Chardonnay Zio Tony Ranch Russian River Valley 

Fried Chicken And Champagne

When it comes to the crispy, salty, and juicy deliciousness that is fried chicken, you’ll want a wine that is equally simple – with the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. 

The effervescence and acidity of Champagne are perfect since they can cut through the rich fried coating of the chicken. 

Here, opt for a Champagne that has citrus notes and is zesty if you’re looking to elevate your chicken and achieve delectable complexity. 

Some wine suggestions include:

  • Jean Vesselle Brut Reserve Champagne NV
  • Jean Vesselle ‘Oeil de Perdrix’ Rosé De Bouzy Champagne 
  • Petit et Bajan ‘Nymphea’ Brut Rosé Grand Cru Avize Champagne 
  • Petit & Bajan ‘Nuit Blanche’ Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne NV 
  • Pierre Gobillard ‘Authentique’ Brut Champagne NV

Spicy Chicken

The best combination for heat is sweetness. Fruity rosés and aromatic white wines like medium-dry Pinot Gris and Riesling when best with spicy dishes. 

Some wine suggestions include:

  • Georg Albrecht Schneider Riesling Rheinhessen Germany 
  • Shypoke Rosé Napa Valley 
  • Clairborne & Churchill Riesling Edna Valley

Herbaceous/ Lemon/ Garlic Chicken And Sauvignon Blanc

Here, the citrus overtones of Sauvignon Blanc help to energize the lemony flavors of dishes such as chicken with herbs, garlic, or lemon. 

In fact, Sauvignon Blanc is light enough that it won’t overpower the delicate herbal chicken rub and the crisp finish that keeps your chicken tasting fresh. 

Some wine suggestions include:

  • Groom Sauvignon Blanc Adelaide Hills
  • Capture ‘Tradition’ Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 
  • ‘Jason’ by Pahlmeyer Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 

Artichokes Or Asparagus And Dry White Wine

When paired with dishes containing asparagus or artichokes, some wines can taste oddly sweet and one-dimensional. 

This is because there is a compound known as cynarin found in artichokes that purportedly binds to your tongue’s sweet receptors – shutting them off temporarily. 

While you’re sipping your wine, the cynarin found on your receptors is pulled off – reactivating it.

Therefore, allowing your tongue to register sweetness – which makes your wine taste sweeter than usual. 

When it comes to this bizarre phenomenon, not everyone will experience it – that said, about 60% of people will. 

Similar to artichokes, asparagus is another vegetable that is known to be difficult to match with wine. 

Here, a high percentage of chlorophyll provides asparagus with that vibrant green flavor that works alongside other acidic components – creating a harsh or metallic taste. 

To compensate for this taste, we recommend serving your asparagus and artichoke with dry white wines which contain little to no residual sugar and are high in acidity. 

For instance, Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, Albarino, or Gruner Veltliner. 

Some wine suggestions include:

  • Atelier by Raul Perez ‘A Cruz Das Ánimas’ Albariño Rias Baixas
  • Belden Barns Gruner Veltliner Sonoma Mountain
  • Simon di Brazzan Friulano Isonzo del Friuli DOC
  • Esprit de Saint-Sulpice Bordeaux Blanc AC
The Best Wine To Pair With Chicken

Chicken And Rosé Or Red Pairings

Earthy/ Savory Chicken Flavors

You may be wondering, what are the best choices for pairing chicken with red wine.

Well, it goes best with earthy ingredients such as tomato sauce, mushrooms, and root vegetables, or when red wine sauce is incorporated in the preparation. 

  • Chicken and a barbecue sauce – These dishes taste best with a full-bodied red that features a touch of sweetness, including Zinfandel, Shiraz, or Grenache (you’ll want to avoid anything too oaky or big). 
  • Pepper and tomato-based sauces – Here, a medium-bodied Spanish or Red goes best, or a Merlot. 
  • Medium-bodied rosés – With such a versatile flavor profile, it can stand against other large flavors, including olives, anchovy, pimento, and saffron. 
  • Chicken coq au vin – These are usually cooked in a dry Burgundy wine that features rich flavors, including mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. However, Merlot helps this dish to come alive.

Compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot contains fewer tannins and an overall spicy and bold taste that bring the coq au vin savory flavors out.

Thanks to the black cherry overtones of the Merlot, the tanginess of middle-bodied wine and the tanginess of the garlic don’t overpower the subtle carrots and fresh thyme. 

Some wine suggestions include:

  • Domaine la Bouïssière Red Blend Côtes du Rhône
  • Descendientes J. Palacios ‘Villa de Corullón’ Bierzo DO Spain
  • Hawley Old Vine Zinfandel Mendocino County
  • Halcón Vineyards ‘Alturas’ Syrah Yorkville Highlands
  • Martinelli ‘Giuseppe & Luisa’ Zinfandel Russian River Valley
  • Januik Merlot Columbia Valley
  • Oro Bello Rosé Petaluma Gap Sonoma Coast

You’ll know you have chosen the right wine when the food and wine pairing creates a harmonious balance (see also “Italian Food Guide: Best Wine For Italian Food & Pasta“). 

Types Of Poultry Paired With Wine

White Meat Flavors

One general rule to follow when pairing meat and wine is that light meat goes best with a lighter wine.

That said, when roasted, poultry tends to preserve a lot of rich flavors, therefore, you can get away with something more complex like red wine. 

  • Poussin – This is similar to a chicken in terms of taste but smaller, it is often prepared like Quail. 
  • Chicken – A medium-textured meat that is lightly flavored. 
  • Turkey – The breast meat of turkey has a strong texture and is lightly flavored. 
  • Quail – This has a more assertive flavor than chicken but it isn’t as strong. It is small, tender, and usually contains bones. The result is a sweet, nutty flavor. Due to its small size, it is generally stuffed with forcemeat. 

Darker Meat Flavors

When it comes to dark meat flavors, the same rule for white meat applies: darker meats taste better with darker wines. 

Below, we have outlined the best bird meat to pair with red wine. 

  • Pheasant – These feature pinkish-white meat that features delicate flavors that are more apple-like and exotic than chicken. 
  • Pigeon Squab (rock dove) – Earthy yet succulent, this dark meat has a delicate texture. 
  • Guinea Fowl – It has a similar taste to turkey and chicken with darker meat overtones. 
  • Partridge – While it isn’t as delicate as quab or pheasant, it has similar flavors as earthy dark meat. 
  • Turkey – Strong textured and long-grain meat. It has a nutty and rich buttery flavor. 
  • Duck – This meat has more assertive flavors with notes of game and oil. Depending on the preparation, it can be reminiscent of pork. 
  • Ostrich – Unlike other birds, Ostrich tends to be more steak-like in texture. It is an extremely tender and lean red meat, therefore, it is best to serve it with wine containing more juiciness and less tannin, like Syrah or Côtes du Rhône. 
The Best Wine To Pair With Chicken

Seasonings And Sauces Paired With Wine

Wine-Based Sauces

  • Lemon and Beurre Blanc – A class sauce for chicken is white wine butter sauce. You can serve this dish with the same wine you used to prepare the sauce. 
  • Red Wine Sauce – Opt for a lighter red wine during preparation and then serve the same wine with your meal. A classic choice is Pinot Noir. Thanks to the higher alcohol content in the wine, the result is a sweeter-tasting sauce. 
  • Madeira/ Sherry-Based Sauces – These rich and dark types of sauces are perfect for medium-bodied spice-driven wines, including Sangiovese, Barbera, Grenache, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, and Primitivo. 

Traditional European Flavors 

  • Rosemary and Other Herbs – Rosemary works perfectly with a Dry Riesling or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  • Standard Poultry Seasoning – A combination of sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, nutmeg, and black pepper, works best with white wines like Viognier or even a Grenache-based wine. 
  • Á L’Orange – This tastes delicious with aromatic white wine such as Torrontés, Gewürztraminer, or Riesling. 
  • Mushroom-based Sauces – Thanks to the earthy taste of mushrooms, a medium red wine works best. 

South American Flavors

  • Mole Sauce – This contains both sesame and chocolate – natural aromas present in various Madeira and Sherry wines. 
  • Jamaican Jerk – This features a blend of onion, rosemary, ginger cinnamon, allspice, paprika, garlic, and black pepper. You’ll want a wine that has a lot of spice to counteract these rich flavors. Tempranillo and Zinfandel are great options. 
  • Chimichurri – A blend of olive oil, parsley, cumin, vinegar (or lemon), oregano, and garlic. This sauce contains a lot of green flavors, therefore, something more herbaceous with high acidity would work perfectly.

When it comes to red wine, opt for something like Cabernet Franc (from the Loire), Nebbiolo, or a Greek wine such as Xinomavro. When it comes to white wine, opt for something like Verdicchio, Sauvignon Blanc, Gavi, or Vermentino from Italy. 

Asian/ Indian Flavors 

Since a lot of Asian and Indian flavors contain various sweetness and spice, your wine choice should be fruity and sweet or red – served chilled. 

For darker soy sauce-based dishes a red or rosé wine works best. 

  • 5-spice powder – Smoky and fruity Australian Grenache or Zinfandel is an ideal choice of wine. For a white, you’ll want something like Kerner, Gewürztraminer, or Furmint. 
  • Sweet and Sour – Here, you can opt for a Moscator or an Italian sparkling rosé such as Brachetto d’Acqui. 
  • Teriyaki – Since teriyaki is both a dark and sweet sauce, a sweet red wine will work best. Here, opt for something like Lambrusco (dolce or amambile style). When served chilled, sherry can work, too. 
  • Curry – Spicy dishes tend to work best with sweeter wines. For instance, the fat in coconut goes perfectly with aromatic white wines. This includes Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, and Moscato

Final Thoughts

Chicken and wine make for the perfect combination. However, the type of wine you choose is dependent on the flavors of your chicken and the preparation. 

The general rule of thumb is lighter meats go with lighter wines, while darker meats go with darker wines. That said, there are always exceptions to this rule, including personal taste.

Hopefully, this guide has informed you on everything you need to know about the best wine to pair with chicken. 

Jon Barbieri
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