Chicken dishes are a well-loved lunch or dinner option for their versatility and delicious flavors. Knowing what wine goes with chicken can bring your meal up a notch. This article will show wine pairings that are easy to pull off so you can enjoy excellent food with great company.
White Wine and Chicken Dishes
A standard rule is to pair white wine with white meat and light dishes. It’s also best to match the wine’s intensity with the richness levels of the dish. To help you plan your menu, check out the following white wine options and the dishes that go well with them.
Chardonnay and Creamy Chicken
The smooth buttery flavor of Chardonnay perfectly complements its rich citrusy taste. Its velvety richness pairs well with creamy chicken dishes such as chicken pot pie or fettuccine alfredo.
Wine lovers recommend oaked Chardonnay for chicken with decadent cream sauces. Your best options would be wines from Southern France, Argentina, California, Italy, and South Australia.
Sauvignon Blanc and Chicken with Garlic, Lemon, and Herbs
Sauvignon Blanc has notable citrus overtones. It can liven up the zesty flavor of lemon and garlic chicken with herbs. This popular white wine variant’s crisp and refreshing finish won’t overpower the chicken herbal rub.
On the contrary, the herbs and the tropical fruit profile of the Sauvignon Blanc will make the chicken taste fresh and light.
If you’re preparing roasted chicken breast cooked in different herbs like thyme and rosemary, a glass of this wine would be a perfect companion. Please note that the warmer the region’s climate, the more roasted flavors. You can try Sauvignon Blanc from Australia, California, Washington State, Chile, and Italy.
Moscato or Riesling and Spicy Chicken
Spicy chicken dishes such as Buffalo wings, Thai Chicken, or Chicken Tacos go well with sweet wines such as Moscato or Riesling. The sweetness of these wine options can help cool down the palate. You can chill your tastebuds and tame the solid and peppery spices from the Buffalo, Sriracha, and Chili sauce.
Moscato or Riesling variants have lower alcohol content than most white wines. It allows you to chill your palate with more glasses without getting hungover the next day.
Wine lovers swear by a general rule of thumb “heat likes sweet”. Next time you plan a spicy feast, choose sweet wines from Napa or Edna Valley in California or Germany.
Red Wine and Chicken Dishes
If you’re a red wine fan, you’ll be glad to know that you can pair it with chicken dishes. It’s best to remember that light aromatic to medium-bodied varieties are your best options. Chicken with rich, dark sauces pairs best with wines with a more delicate tannin structure.
Zinfandel or Dolcetto and Chicken Barbeque
Chicken barbeque is known for its rich, sweet sauce. Wines with fruity undertones and low tannins would complement this grilled treat. The cherry, licorice, and jam flavors of Zinfandel go well with the barbeque’s tomato paste, molasses, and brown sugar. It’s an effortless pairing that will delight your weekend barbeque gatherings.
You can also enjoy Dolcetto’s plum and blackberry flavors with your barbeque. Its rich flavor profile brings out your grilled chicken’s smoky and tangy features. Red wine lovers recommend trying Zinfandel from American vineyards such as Napa and Sonoma Valley. Meanwhile, the best Dolcettos come from the US, Italy, and Australia,
Pinot Noir and Tomato-Based Chicken Dishes
If you’re planning to feast on a rich tomato-based dish, you can have a glass of light red wine to go with it. Pinot Noir is great with Italian fares like Chicken Cacciatore or Spanish dishes like Pollo con Tomate. This tart, light wine perfectly complements the tomato’s acidity.
Pinot Noir has fine tannins made more flavorful with cherry, raspberry, cranberry, and clove. The best bottles of Pinot Noir come from Sonoma Valley, Red Russian Valley, and Argentina.
Merlot and Coq Au Vin
Famous chef and author Julia Child brought this well-loved French dish to the mainstream audience. Translated to “rooster with chicken,” this savory dish is cooked in red wine, mushrooms, shallots, and garlic.
A glass of Merlot, with its lower tannins, can bring out the complex flavors of this culinary masterpiece. Its bold and spicy flavors pair well with Coq Au Vin’s richness.
Merlot has black cherry overtones that energize the garlic’s tangy flavors. Being middle-bodied, it does not overpower the herbs and mushrooms in the dish. Choose bottles from Napa Valley, France, and Tuscany, Italy, for their superb quality.
You may check out this video on how to pair red wine with chicken.
Sparkling Wine and Chicken Dishes
Celebrations usually call for fizzy and bubbly sparkling wines. While they’re primarily associated with cocktail parties, this wine type can complement sit-down meals.
Champagne and Classic Fried Chicken
Many people consider chicken as their comfort food. It’s not surprising since the crispy breading and the juicy meat is to die for. It would be nice to level up this meal with Champagne. This sparkling wine has a great, lean texture with some creamy undertones.
The beauty lies in this drink’s complexity. It’s highlighted by citrus flavors in the mid-palate while the freshness and high acidity cut right through the fried chicken’s fat. Blanc de blanc champagnes from 100% white grapes would be your best option.
Prosecco and Lemon Chicken
Prosecco is the Italian counterpart of Champagne. It’s commonly paired with dessert and other sweet dishes. However, you can also pair this bubbly wine with a savory Lemon Chicken. The sweet, effervescent wine balances the tangy flavors of this dish.
You can also pair Prosecco with other fried chicken treats like Chicken nuggets. Like Champagne, it can cut through the grease and cleanse the palate. Choose 85% Glera grape when buying Prosecco to ensure you are of the best quality.
Sparkling Rose and Chicken Schnitzel
Rose is a pretty, pink drink that pairs well with decadent desserts such as chocolate lava cake. However, it’s also nice to drink it while enjoying Chicken Schnitzel. This Austrian delicacy is made from the flattened chicken breast coated with a special breading and deep fried.
Sparkling Rose balances the rich flavors in the fried dish. It refreshes the palate, making it ready for more. Brut and extra-dry variants from France would be your best option.
Cava and Chicken Croquettes
Cava is Spain’s contribution to the sparkling wine family. It’s known to be a more pocket-friendly version of Champagne. This dry, sparkling wine has citrus undertones and medium-bodied flavors. You can also taste some acidity and mineral in this refreshing drink.
The best Cava pairing would be with Chicken Croquettes. These delectable fried morsels are mainstays in most Spanish tapas. They also go with potato chips or fries. The Cava can balance off the umami flavors and the oil of the chicken dish.
Wine and Chicken Pairing Guide
You must be excited to try out the chicken dishes and their wine pairings by now. Here’s a quick guide to help you with your meal planning.
Wine and Chicken Pairing Chart
|The best bottles come from
|Best paired with
|Southern France, Argentina, California, Italy, and South Australia.
|Creamy Chicken Dishes
● Fettuccine Alfredo
● Chicken Pot Pie
● Chicken Tetrazzini
|Australia, California, Washington State, Chile, and Italy.
|Lemon, Garlic, and Herbed Chicken
● Roast Chicken and Herbs
|Moscato or Riesling
|Napa or Edna Valley in California or Germany
|Spicy Chicken Dishes
● Buffalo Wings
● Thai Chicken
● Chicken Tacos
|Napa and Sonoma Valley
US, Italy, and Australia,
|Sonoma Valley, Red Russian Valley, and Argentina.
|Tomato-based Chicken Dishes
● Chicken Cacciatore
● Pollo con Tomate
● Chicken Parmigiana
|Classic Fried Chicken
Tips on Wine and Chicken Pairing
Some people find food and wine pairings daunting, but that shouldn’t be the case. Discovering wines that perfectly enhance food flavors can be fun and exciting. The following tips will help you confidently plan your menu for your next party or event.
Remember that balance is the key
One handy rule to remember is to match rich food with rich wine and mild food with mild wine. A good example is pairing the creamy undertones of Chardonnay with rich and creamy chicken dishes.
Consider the most dominant flavor first
While it has always been general knowledge that white wine goes with white meat, it isn’t usually the case. It’s great to consider the dominant flavor or sauce that envelopes the dish. For example, Chicken Parmigiana is made from white meat (chicken breast), but the dominant flavor is tomato sauce. It means that red wine is the best pairing for it.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Tasting food and wine is always an adventure. Sometimes, wine pairings don’t work the way you want them to. However, it can be an opportunity to discover unconventional pairings. Some wine lovers have tried a Katsu Curry and Cava pairing, and it worked.
Go on a Chicken and Wine Culinary Adventure
It’s fun to know what wine goes with chicken. You can now easily plan your next party or intimate dinner. Always remember to achieve a balance between flavors. Allow the wine to enhance and not overpower the dish.
George Moore, co-founder of Wine Flavor Guru, is a charismatic entrepreneur with a rich background in California’s wine industry. Alongside Sylvia, he transformed a Sonoma County vineyard into a source of premium wines. George’s expertise in sourcing exceptional grapes and his approachable style make wine appreciation both accessible and engaging.