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Best Wines to Pair with Chicken

At What To Pair, we do our blogging a little more different than most food and wine bloggers.  We tend to write long, and somewhat in-depth articles targeted towards people who want to know the reasons why a food and wine pairing will work or will not work.  Because we are located in Ontario, Canada, we also want to represent the hard working wine makers and beermasters around us.  Living in Ontario, we are fortunate to have access to some really great wines outside of our chunk of the great Canadian Shield.  Thus, in our reviews, we try to pair up at least one local, and one ‘global’ wine, in which the ‘global’ wine can be found in the LCBO.

In this Article we will talk about chicken and wine pairing, in which the very different combinations are enormous.  Chicken is such a neutral meat that it pretty much goes with everything.  Wine varies from varietal to varietal, and then the wine makers put their own spin on it, that you could easily find a style of wine to go with any style of chicken. For the sake of brevity, we’ll keep it simple, and pick the most  popular preparations of chicken to pair wine with.

Pairing Wine with Roast Chicken and Grilled Chicken

Lailey Pinot NoirFor simple preparations of chicken, the best red wine to pair with chicken is Pinot Noir.  Now hold on a second, you might say.  You can pair red wine with chicken, which is a white meat?  Absolutely!  Pinot Noir is not a heavy red wine.  It’s high in acidity, light in tannin and has a pleasant and highly aromatic nose.  As it is a delicate red wine, you don’t want to pair this with spicy chicken.  Rich and bold preparations of chicken, such as heavy cream sauces might overpower this wine too.  But if you are having a roasted chicken, the earthy flavours often found in a Pinot Noir will go fantastic with this dish.  Pinot Noir tends to be slightly sweet, especially ones from California and New Zealand.  This sweetness goes perfect with sweetness you often get from the cooked outer skin of chicken.

For our global Pinot Noir pick, we’d suggest ‘Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir’ which is available at the LCBO year round (VINTAGES 954834).  Year after year, this Pinot Noir is consistent, delicious and always a crowd pleaser due to its impeccable balance.

For our Ontario pick for Pinot Noir we would suggest Lailey Vineyards Pinot Noir which is available at the winery or in LCBO VINTAGES 591404.  Lailey is another vineyard that consistently delivers well-made Pinot Noir.  This would be simply wonderful with roasted chicken due to its raspberries and cherry flavours.  Every time I combine a savoury roast chicken with this beautiful wine I am instantly transported to a farmhouse picnic table, watching the sun set over the fields on a warm summer night.

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve ChardonnayThe best White Wine to pair with Chicken, either grilled or roasted is Chardonnay.  Chardonnay is often oaked, which makes it the perfect white wine with Grilled Chicken the bitterness of the charred flavours from the grilling process go great with the oak found in in Chardonnay.  Chardonnay in general has a lot of tropical fruit, vanilla on the nose and a lush feeling on the tongue.  If you happen to overcook your chicken making it too dry (as I often do), a nice cold glass of Chardonnay will really save your chicken, making you seem like an excellent cook.

For a great oaked Chardonnay to pair with chicken, we’d highly suggest Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay (LCBO VINTAGES 369686).  This is simply a well-made and crowd pleasing Chardonnay that goes great with chicken or on its own.  You’ll find a lot of peach and green apple flavours in this wine, along with tropical fruit flavours.  It has great balance, structure, if you are an ‘ABC’
 kind of wine drinker (Anything But Chardonnay) we feel this wine will surely change your mind.

Flat Rock Cellars The Rogue Pinot NoirFor local Chardonnay picks in Ontario, once again Lailey Vineyard produces some exceptional Chardonnay.  Tawse Winery is another great producer of Chardonnay, which we’ve written about in our previous article about Five Great Wines to Pair with Salmon.  Hillebrand, Peller Estates are also great producers of Chardonnay with well-balanced bodies.  Perhaps my favourite Chardonnay at the moment is Stoney Ridge, Warren Classic Chardonnay, which is a  extremely drinkable, dry and well balanced. 

Having trouble choosing between a red wine and white wine to pair with Chicken?  Then we’d at What To Pair would suggest The Rogue from Flat Rock Cellars.  This is an interesting wine in that it is a white wine made from the Pinot Noir grape.  On the nose, you’d think this was a chardonnay, but in the background, you’ll find the earthiness of a pinot noir, but you’ll also get peaches and rhubarb flavours.

Pairing Wine with Herbed Chicken

Overall, you’ll find that most red and white wines will go fine with chicken.  Chicken is rather neutral, and we feel that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay bring out its best flavours.  If you were eating a herbed chicken, you might rather choose a wine that had similar characteristics such as a Sauvignon Blanc, or a Cabernet Franc.

Trius Riesling and Chicken WingsPairing Wine with Chicken Wings

With the super bowl just around the corner, we should mention what we are drinking this Sunday with Chicken Wings.  For chicken wings, especially spicy hot ones, you want a wine that is low in alcohol, or else your mouth is going to feel even more on fire and you won’t taste anything.  Rieslings are great for this, and Niagara is known for their exceptional Rieslings.  Two of our favourites are Trius Riesling produced by the Hillebrand Winery, and Cave Spring Cellars Off-Dry Riesling.  You’ll also find sparkling wine or Prosecco goes well with chicken wings as they are high in carbonation, and cut right through the greasiness of the chicken wing.

If you are Beau's Beaver River IPeh? and Chicken Wingsa red wine drinker only, we’d highly suggest a Baco Noir with chicken wings.  Baco Noir tends to be a mid-bodied wine that is very fruity.  It goes great will foods higher in fat content, as it is a wine that is low in tannin.  Thus the less fat that is cooked out of the food, the more the fruitiness of this wine is going to shine through.  Henry of Pelham is well known for making one of the greatest Baco Noir in Niagara.  If you’ve never tried a Baco Noir, we suggest you start with Henry of Pelham Baco Noir.  This Baco Noir is avialable in the winery or at the LCBO.

Beer and chicken wings are a classic combination that everybody is familiar with.  The majority of the population drinks it with some variation of a pilsner lager whether it’s Budweiser, Canadian, Blue or Sleeman Original Draught.  We think the best beer to pair with chicken wings is an India Pale Ale.  India Pale Ales are high in carbonation which cuts through the greasiness and spiciness of a chicken wing.  We also think India Pale Ales are the best beer to pair with chicken wings as they are a little more hoppy then most beers.  Hops cause those bitter flavours you often find in beer, hops are also herbal, or sometimes have a spiciness to them that allow them to compliment the spice found in a chicken wing.  Some great local India Pale Ales we highly recommend are Muskoka Brewery IPA which is on the more extreme side of India Pale Ale, Beau’s Beaver•River I.P.Eh?, and Alexander Keiths IPA which is a great starter India Pale Ale. 

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Written by: Joel Baxter