Top pairings | What wine goes best with chicken - red or white?

Top pairings

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

Go for a lightly oaked Chardonnay or other smooth dry white like oaked Chenin Blanc or Viognier with:

  • 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

chicken curry with an aromatic white wine

A crisp dry white like a Pinot Grigio, Picpoul or Sauvignon Blanc is good with

  • 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

coq au vin with red wine

Four favourite wine matches for coq au vin

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!

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Photo credits: grilled chicken (top) ©gkrphoto, chicken curry ©voltan, coq au vin ©HLphoto, all at

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Comments: 1 (Add)

Ray on December 10 2015 at 13:25 MIGHT HELP TOO

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