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Chicken and Wine Pairing – Perfect Matching

Chicken and wine pairing is a bit more complicated than you might think, because there are so many different ways to prepare chicken, and because there can be quite a big difference between the white and dark meat in terms of fat/flavour.

Here are some of the ways you’ll likely be eating chook, along with some suggested wine pairings:

Poached chicken and chicken breasts 

Dishes featuring skinless chicken breasts (or other white meat) or poached chicken (using minimal fat) are usually pretty light and fresh, and are often prepared simply with some bright herbs or lemon – this includes meals such as a salad with poached chicken, pan-grilled or oven-roasted breasts and a nice chicken noodle soup. When it comes to picking a wine for such dishes, you don’t want to overpower these delicate, fresh and almost sweet flavours . Try something bright and acidic with some aromas on the nose – a Friulano (from Italy’s Friuli region), with has notes of stone fruit, citrus and floral aromas or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc would both be great options.

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Fried chicken

No matter which city you’re in, there always seems to be a fried chicken joint within walking distance. If this trend if here to stay, it’s best you find a wine to suit! Whether it’s white or dark meat, fried chicken will be crunchy, salty and juicy with plenty of fat. When matching these intense, savoury and addictive flavours, you’ll want something clean and crisp to balance things out. A German Riesling, the perfect blend of acid and sweetness, is ideal. Similarly, a dry sparkling like Cava, Prosecco or Crémant (even dry, they tend to have a bit of sweetness)  – will act as a refreshing palate cleanser and make your fried chicken even more finger-lickin’ good.

Whole roast chicken

Roast chicken is sort of like a less serious (not to say less delicious) version of roast lamb or beef, which have a higher fat content and need something intense to help cut through the flavours – as such, your wine pairing for roast chicken should be a bit less serious than for red meat roasts. Still go for something with some spice and weight, but nothing too tannic and dry or you’ll get the whole sandpaper tongue thing. Light to medium bodied Pinot Noirs do well here, as does Gamay (particularly Cru Beaujolais) or the classic pair is a full bodied Chardonnay

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Braises and stews

Chicken tagines, stews, curries and braises vary from recipe to recipe, from cuisine to cuisine – some are made with a tomato base, some with cream, others use braising juices and hearty stocks – but they are almost always slow-cooked, building rich flavours with herbs, spices and vegetables to create a comforting dish. There might be particular wines best suited for some recipes (i.e. Coq au Vin is ideally enjoyed with the red wine it was cooked in), but you can make some generalisations as to which wines work with chicken stews and braises – at its simplest, these hearty, warm and succulent poultry dishes will need a rich, medium to full bodied wine. A heavier, buttery Chardonnay – perhaps something New World with some Oak – will probably work really well with a lot of these dishes. In terms of reds, Grenache, Nebbiolo, cool climate Pinot Noir and New World Shiraz will be fruity and rich, but won’t overpower you with tannins.

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Jill Haapaniemi

Jill Haapaniemi

Jill is a lover of all things food and wine. As a food blogger and recipe developer, she is passionate about sharing meals with others, never without a bottle of something to enhance the experience. She spends her free time at her partner’s family winery just outside of Melbourne, and can usually be found drinking Oregon Pinot, wines from the Rhône Valley or Victorian Shiraz.
Jill Haapaniemi

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