Picking out a standardized recipe for your next meal at home is exciting enough, but how can you take it to the next level? By choosing wine with a knockout taste profile that fits the flavors of the dish-like a lamb wine pairing.
A wine pairing with chicken is one meal example that’s sure to come up frequently. So, why can’t you leverage knowledge from a wine pairing with salmon, turkey wine pairing, or steak wine pairing? That’s because these foods are diverse and take on different flavors based on the standardized recipe.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a sommelier to master wine pairings for your upcoming dinner party. Keep reading for our recommendations on wine pairings for popular chicken meals. If you're buying a winery, you can even use these for events with meals.
What Wine Pairs With Chicken?
Though each chicken recipe will demonstrate a different flavor profile, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the best overall pairs. The smooth mouthfeel but high acidity level of Chardonnay makes it a good match for the already neutral taste of chicken.
A wine pairing rule of thumb is to balance the meal’s flavors with those of the wine. For example, a recipe with bright, herbaceous flavors can tolerate a slightly stronger wine. The lighter nature of the meal leaves room on the palate for additional flavors.
A dish that makes heavy use of cream or otherwise has intense, peppery flavors should have a lighter wine pairing. This prevents the palate from being overwhelmed and allows the beverage to act as a sensory break between bites of food.
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Chicken Marsala Wine Pairing
The best chicken marsala wine pairing is with lighter red wine types or a full-bodied white wine. Red wine examples include Malbec and Pinot Noir, and white wines include Riesling or Chardonnay. Chicken marsala is naturally savory and creamy, so your wine selection should be based on complementary flavors.
The ingredients in marsala sauce include heavy cream and mushrooms, which reach their full potential with lighter wines. The acidity of Chardonnay or the fruitiness of Pinot Noir brings out the richness of the meal’s base ingredients.
Chicken Parmesan Wine Pairing
Ace your chicken parmesan wine pairing with a light-to-medium-bodied red wine, like Pinot Noir or Merlot. The savory saltiness of this dish requires just enough boldness to round out the palate.
Merlot has a lighter mouthfeel, smooth tannins in wine, and offers raspberry and cocoa flavors. This soft palatability makes it a wonderful pairing for the creamy, lasting tastes of parmesan and garlic.
Pinot Noir is a great selection for its intricate flavors that are grown in cool climates. Its baking spice, cherry, and forest floor notes accent the dense tastes of a cheese- and meat-heavy dish.
If your chicken parmesan recipe makes heavy use of tomatoes, you can pair it with bolder red wine types. Tomatoes are more acidic and the flavor is stronger, so a Grenache or Chianti won’t be as overpowering. If it becomes difficult to remember which wine is which, consult our types of wine chart to point you in the right direction.
Fried Chicken Wine Pairing
If you’re looking for a fried chicken wine pairing, you can’t go wrong with an extra-dry Chardonnay or a quality Grenache. The breading of fried chicken plus the meat’s inherently mild taste requires a subtlety in pairing that isn’t easy to strike.
Chardonnay offers tart citrus and apple flavors that cut through fried chicken coating without taking away from the food’s sensory experience. This low calorie wine is also dry enough to balance out the rich, fatty presence of chicken on the palate.
Grenache has higher wine alcohol content and comes with juicy red fruit flavors, like strawberry and raspberry. It also has subdued notes of violet, cinnamon, orange, and tobacco. It makes a sophisticated match for the bold simplicity of fried chicken.
Roast Chicken Wine Pairing
To knock your roast chicken wine pairing out of the park, go with a medium-to-full-bodied rosé, dry white, or fuller-bodied red wine. The wine you select depends on how the chicken is prepared and which herbs and spices were used in the recipe.
Specific wine examples include Mourvèdre Rosé, Ocellus Santa Margarita Ranch Pinot Noir, and J. Moreau & Fils 2018 Valmur Grand Cru. Let’s break each of these down in further detail.
Rosé is an excellent choice because it’s stronger than a low acid wine, but not so much that it takes away from the other flavors. The Pinot Noir from Ocellus Santa Margarita Ranch is fuller-bodied than average ones, offering a heartiness to your meal that can’t be replicated with a lighter wine. Finally, a dry white like J. Moreau & Fils’ Valmur Grand Cru adds a tangy zip to your roast chicken that balances out savory ingredients in the recipe.
Bear in mind that the best wine pairing for any meal is one that complements the food’s flavors without overwhelming the palate. If you end up going with a red, remember to check your red wine serving temperature before cooking for the evening.
Chicken Piccata Wine Pairing
If you need a good chicken piccata wine pairing, you’re best off with a white wine. The flavorings in picatta--like parsley, lemon, and black pepper--require space to be noticeable in this recipe.
A few types of white wine that work great are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc carries light fruit flavors like green pear, peach, grapefruit, and lime. These aromas and tastes perfectly match the lemon and parsley. You could even try it with sparkling wine.
A classic choice like Chardonnay is great not only for its buttery texture, but the hints of vanilla, pudding, and guava. It’s light enough to allow the chicken piccata’s flavors to be on full display but strong enough to elevate the other tastes in the meal.
BBQ Chicken Wine Pairing
Some of the best BBQ chicken wine pairing options are fruity red wines with low tannins. This includes wine varietals like Dolcetto, Zinfandel, and Barbera.
Zinfandel is a classic choice with BBQ chicken because it contains so many dark fruit flavors that naturally complement sweet barbecue sauces. The molasses, brown sugar, and tomato paste in the sauce fit effortlessly with the jam, licorice, and cherry flavors of Zinfandel.
Dolcetto is another fruit-centered red wine that offers blackberry and plum flavors. This rich flavor profile creates a mouthwatering combination with the smoky, tangy presence of barbecued meat.
Barbera is yet another marvelous BBQ chicken wine pairing. Its prominent cherry, strawberry, and raspberry flavors accentuate the existing sweetness of barbecue sauce. It also has a high acid but low tannin structure, giving it great tanginess for richer meals like flavored chicken.
Chicken Alfredo Wine Pairing
When you need a chicken alfredo wine pairing, there are several routes you can take. One is with lighter red wines and the other is with dry white wines. Let’s look at the benefits of both.
Given how smooth and rich alfredo sauce is, you need a wine that will accentuate its creaminess without changing the flavor experience. Beaujolais and Pinot Noir are two lighter red wines that accomplish this with ease.
The Beaujolais profile of cranberry, raspberry, and cherry provides just enough fruity tartness to cut through thick alfredo sauce. In this sense, both Pinot Noir and Beaujolais act as a palate cleanser between bites.
Pinot Grigio, Orvieto, and Chardonnay are all great white wines that match the consistency of alfredo. The green apple, pear, and yellow botanical flavors that comprise each of these wines have a pleasant acidity perfect for this type of meal.
Chicken Tikka Masala Wine Pairing
Need a smart chicken tikka masala wine pairing? You can’t go wrong with bright, acidic wines like a Riesling and Pinot Grigio. These wines have honeysuckle, yellow pear, pineapple, and lime flavors, which create contrast between the overtly rich flavors of tikka masala.
Butter, yogurt, and cream comprise tikka masala’s texture, so it aids the palate to have a break between every few bites. Otherwise, your senses are overwhelmed by sumptuous aromas and it becomes difficult to notice the wine’s muted tastes.
Chicken Cacciatore Wine Pairing
When you’re looking for a chicken cacciatore wine pairing, there’s no better fit than a Pinot Noir. Yes, this wine pairs with dozens of dishes, but its balance between fruity and earthy flavors lends itself well to tomato-heavy dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wine Pairing With Chicken
Finding delicious wines that also match the food you’ve made isn’t easy. Even with a wine aroma kit, it can take months to understand the practical side of putting food and drink together. The difference between a chicken alfredo wine pairing and a BBQ chicken wine pairing takes practice and some trial and error.
If chicken and wine pairings still have you stumped, fear not. Take a look through these frequently asked questions about it and our answers below:
What Wine Goes Best With Roast Chicken?
Each roast chicken recipe is different, but wines with high acid levels and low tannin content generally work the best. Here are a few wines that fit this description:
- Pinot Noir / Burgundy
- Oaked Chardonnay
- Côtes-du-Rhône Villages
What Wine Goes With Pasta and Chicken?
Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are both great for pasta and chicken wine pairings. Since most chicken and pasta dishes involve creamy sauces, the wines you pair them with need to be strong and medium-to-full-bodied.
The reason Sauvignon Blanc is often turned to for these dishes is because of its bright fruity flavors and subtle spiciness. Pinot Grigio is similar, with both types of white wine offering apple, peach, lime, and grapefruit tastes. Such flavors balance out the sumptuous characteristics of creamy, salty dishes.
What Kind of Wine Goes With Chicken and Rice?
Since chicken and rice start neutral but both take on the spices they’re cooked with, your best wine pairings may vary. Lighter dishes are better paired with a light drink. Rosé and champagne are two examples with the right choice depending on which herbs were used. Champagne is great for meals that need an acidic counterpoint, and rosé is good when you need a crisp finish to a bite.
Heavier dishes--such as chicken alfredo or parmesan--can handle darker drink flavors. Varieties like Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Beaujolais offer just enough intensity to bring out every element of the meal.
Wine Pairings Are Vine and Dandy
Practicing your food and wine pairings is a skill that offers lifelong dividends. Whether you’re catering to customers, serving guests at a party, or enjoying a relaxing night in, you’ll know which drink matches the recipe.
Whether you prefer a chicken alfredo wine pairing, a BBQ chicken wine pairing, or something completely different, having this knowledge will set you up to always be ready with the best wine pairings for your chicken dinner.