Wine with chicken: red or white?
Chicken can be served so many different ways you might wonder which type of wine makes the best pairing. The truth is there’s no single answer - it depends on your own personal taste and the way it’s cooked - but here's a simple guide:
Given that 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 . . .
When to pair white wine with chicken
- Chicken in a creamy sauce, especially with mushrooms or creamy chicken pies
- Creamy or cheesy pasta dishes like chicken tetrazzini
- Chicken caesar salad
- Mild chicken curries like kormas
Aromatic whites 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 noodle dishes
- Fried chicken dishes or Mexican-style dishes with guac and sour cream like chicken enchiladas
When to pair red wine 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
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. You could go for a crisp dry white as above or a light red such as a Beaujolais or other gamay
There are, of course, many other possibilities - fruity rosés also work well with spicy chicken dishes, sparkling wines with fried chicken 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
- Glammed up roast chicken and smart white burgundy
- What to drink with Coronation chicken
Image © robynmac - Fotolia.com
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