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Poultry in Motion: Wine Pairings for Any Chicken Recipe

  09/01/2020 at 13:06 pm

Hey, Brooklyn! What’s clucking? Chefs and home cooks alike, apparently. 

Americans consume more chicken than any other kind of meat (about 98 lbs per person in 2018, according to the USDA), and in more ways. And just as each of the thousands of recipes out there call for different seasonings and sauces, they also call for different wines that complement, accentuate, or balance each dish’s flavor and style. “Baked, broiled, fried, roasted, kebabs--there’s wine for that,” says Wine & Spirits Assistant Manager and resident sommelier Michele Thomas. Read on for pro pairing tips for any chicken recipe.

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Roast Chicken: Chardonnay, Rhone Blends Pinot Noir, or Gamay.

Why It Works: From your oven or the rotisserie at Provisions, the rich flavors of roasted chicken are classic for a reason. For this preparation, classic wines are called for, wines that match the mild flavor of the chicken itself—for example, the creamy, round notes of Chardonnay and Marsanne-Roussane blends--or speak to the savory herbs used in its preparation—such as the red berry and woodsy notes of Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cotes du Rhone.

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Fried Chicken: Bubbles, Bubbles, and More Bubbles. And Riesling.

Why It Works: Part of what makes this preparation a winner is the culinary collision between the crispy skin and juicy chicken. Provide a snap, crackle, and pop of contrast between the crunchy skin and fatty chicken, bubbles are an ideal pairing. Go with Champagne if you’re feeling fancy, Cremants or Lambrusco if you’re on a budget. If bubbles bring you down, try an off-dry (not to be confused with sweet) Riesling. High acidity and bright fruit flavors cut through the fat, leaving plenty of rich flavor behind. 
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BBQ/Grilled Chicken: Rosé, Orange Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Aglianico. And bubbles.

Why It Works: There are two factors to keep in mind with BBQ and grilled chicken -- smoke and spice. Grilling imbues chicken with extra savory umami flavors, which work well with the tannin in red wines, the funky freshness of herbaceous orange wines, and even some rosés. Add in a sticky, spicy, vinegary-sauce, and the bright wild fruit flavors of Zinfandel, Aglianico, and Cabernet sing in any glass. Bubbles, of course, provide a food friendly accent and contrast to the flavor -- further proof that they truly go with anything. 
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Vegetarian/Vegan: Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Bordeaux Blends. And bubbles.

Why It Works: The trick here is to choose wine that will not overpower the milder flavors of vegetables, legumes, or meat substitutes, such as seitan. Think of wine more like an ingredient in these cases, and consider how the wine’s acidity, dryness/sweetness, and fruit or floral flavors accentuate or contrast others in the dish. For example, let’s say you’re cooking up spicy veggie tacos with Blackbird Foods Texas-BBQ Seitan. A smoky, wild Zinfandel or Syrah, or bold, vegetal Cabernet blend would work well along the savory, spicy seitan, while zesty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Spanish white wine would add a tangy pop to fresh vegetables and lime. 

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By The Greene Grape
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