What wine goes best with chicken - red or white?
Good news! The best wine with chicken can be either red or white - it depends on your own personal taste and the way it’s cooked.
That said, chicken is a light meat, it won’t surprise you to learn that white wine is generally a more flexible match with smooth dry whites like chardonnay happily partnering a great many chicken dishes. But there are recipes I’d definitely pair with a red . . .
White wine pairings with chicken
- Chicken in a creamy sauce, such as chicken alfredo or creamy chicken pies
- Creamy or cheesy chicken pasta dishes like chicken tetrazzini
- Chicken caesar salad or other chicken salads with a creamy dressing
- Mild chicken curries like kormas
Aromatic white wines like medium-dry Riesling and Pinot Gris match well with spicy chicken dishes such as
- Thai green chicken curry
- Stir-fries with chicken
- Sweet and sour chicken
- Chicken tikka masala
- Asian-style chicken noodle dishes
- Fried chicken dishes or Mexican-style dishes with guac and sour cream like chicken enchiladas or chicken fajitas
Red wine pairings with chicken
- With tomato- and pepper-based sauces - try a medium-bodied southern French or Spanish red like a Côtes du Roussillon - or a Merlot
- Chicken with a barbeque sauce can take a more full-bodied red with a touch of sweetness like a Shiraz, Grenache or Zinfandel. (Not too big or oaky though. Chicken isn't steak!)
- With chicken in a red wine sauce like coq au vin drink a similar wine to the one you use for the recipe. Burgundy is traditional but I’d probably go for a red from the Rhône or Languedoc
- dishes made from chicken livers like a chicken liver paté - light fruity reds work well with these
- And rich chicken dishes like chicken marsala can take a full-bodied red wine like an aglianico
When either red or white wine pairings would do
- Simply roast chicken. Either an oaked Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir will be great but if you've got a dark savoury gravy with it I’d go for a medium-bodied red like a Côtes du Rhône.
- Grilled chicken with herbs or lemon chicken. You could go for a crisp dry white as above or a light red such as a Beaujolais or other gamay
- With a Moroccan-style tagine with preserved lemon. You'd think white wine but an aged red like a rioja can work surprisingly well as you can see here
There are, of course, many other possibilities - fruity rosés also work well with spicy chicken dishes and Spanish-style chicken dishes with rice, sparkling wines with fried chicken and chicken kiev and cider is generally a great all-rounder but if you want to keep it simple, this is a start!
You may also find these posts useful:
- 8 great wine (and other) matches for roast chicken
- What to drink with chicken wings
- 6 of the best wine pairings with chicken pie
- What to drink with Coronation chicken
Photo credits: grilled chicken (top) ©gkrphoto, chicken curry ©voltan, coq au vin ©HLphoto, all at Fotolia.com
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