What Food? What Wine? – Wine Pairing with Chicken

A quick google search reveals that a lot of people are searching for answers – but a lot of the answers are confusing dissections of the who? what? when? and why? I am going to ( attempt ) to make it all a little less complicated. And help you make the right decisions when it comes to choosing the perfect wine pairing with chicken dishes you are planning to prepare for your next dinner party, or even your favourite take out!

First up for 2016 – Wine Pairing with Chicken

wine pairing with chicken

Roast Chicken

Of course, people add all manner of herbs and spices to their chickens before they roast them, but on this occasion, we will keep it simple. Loads of butter, and a generous sprinkling of rock salt on the skin; which happens to be favourite. We shall assume the accompaniments are roast potatoes and their friends.

White Burgundy – a match made in heaven though other gently oaked Chardonnays work well too. There really is little beating around the bush to do with this one. The acid serves to cut through the fatty skin; whilst the richness from the oak is wonderfully complimentary to the buttery meaty.

I know people who swear by a Pinot Noir and for diehard red drinkers, this is of course an option. Especially if there is a heavily reduced gravy or a lot of herbs to consider. I’d be inclined to stick with Burgundy here. Bag yourself a straight forward Bourgogne Rouge for good structure, minimal tannins and some bright red fruit.

Mexican Chicken

Very broad topic again – but think chipotle chilli and avocado for this one. Or anything that includes any form of aromatic spice. Not just warm heat but lime zest and coriander too. My recipe Mexican Chicken Corn Wraps  is a good example to work from; full of smokey spice! Wine pairing with chicken corn wraps #YUM

I would lean towards a red wine on this occasion, with a good level of fruit – yet plenty of spice to compliment the chilli. My first choice would be a GSM blend ( Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre ). Either a Côte du Rhone blend for slightly less fruit and more spice; or the fuller bodied Aussie equivalent for more fruit and a delicate spice.

If you like your Mexican a little less spicy with more lime, avocado and sour cream; a white would be a good choice. Pick something with a high acidity to cut through the sour cream and lots of citrus to match the lime. A young New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is highly aromatic and full of lime zest. For the slightly more adventurous; a great match for a lightly spiced dish is a bright Rosé – look out for a Spanish Garnacha ( Grenache ).

Chicken Kiev

Wine pairing with Chicken Kiev – PROPER yummy homemade wild garlic Chicken Kiev. Or anyone you choose of course… but make it a good’un for me!

Chicken Kiev doesn’t only require a pairing for garlic; but also butter and bread crumbs. An unoaked Chardonnay with plenty of bright fruit and steely minerality cuts through the butter and compliments the dish. Chablis would be my first choice but an unoaked Chardonnay from Regional France would have a similar; yet slightly less concentrated flavour. For more tropical fruit flavours choose a New World equivalent.


French dish of wine braised chicken with plenty of lardons and shallots. Wine pairing with chicken dishes like this is easy; it’s deciding which wine to cook with that is the hard part!

Tradition would call for a Red Burgundy. Although I would be the first to encourage you to use as good a wine as you can afford to obtain cracking results; I understand that it can feel painful tipping half a bottle of wine into a casserole. For a midweek supper or dinner on a tighter budget you can enjoy similar with a New World equivalent. Chilean Pinot Noir would be top of my list.

Chicken Tikka Masala

For their 25th anniversary BBC Good Food surveyed 10 thousand people on their food habits. Shopping, cooking, eating; everything you ever wished to know. And a lot of what you probably wish you didn’t… 56% of people said the one kitchen item they could not live without would be their microwave. A microwave! Not knives… or their oven or anything…

ANYHOW what actually sent me on this hunt for was information regarding the UK’s favourite curry. Apparently it used to be Chicken Tikka Masala but now it is Jalfrezi. I am not going to try and pair a wine with Jalfrezi; try it with beer. It’ll work best, I promise. Chicken Tikka Masala on the other hand is something I am happy to pair with a good glass of fruity rosé. I wine I tend to avoid in most other circumstances. A Californian White Zinfandel or an Italian Pinot Grigio Blush. The acidity will help to cut through the creamy sauce and the bright Summer fruits ( and often a little bit of residual sugar ) will work well with the low level of spice / heat.

But of course there are many more Chicken dishes, and many more wines to complement them! ALL of the grape varieties. For me, the best part of the journey is always the advemture at the start. This list is only meant to be a loose guide, pointing in the right direction.

I’d love to know what your favourite wine pairing with chicken is – or if you try any of the above! 

Also let me know if there is anything you would like me to cover. Food and wine pairing – or anything else wine related. Shoot me any questions on twitter!