Chicken is a blank slate of the culinary world, so pairing wine with chicken can be as simple or complicated as the recipe. With simple recipes, you’ll want a simple wine. Classic examples of wines to pair with chicken include Beaujolais for red wine and Pinot Gris for white.
Chicken is well suited to an unusually broad range of preparation and seasoning. Its healthy attributes have also made chicken, and in particular chicken breasts, a common and convenient substitution for other meats. This means that you can probably find a chicken recipe to pair with just about any wine. When you’re working in broad generalities, as we are, I’d generally defer to the method of preparation for guidance. Below are some of the most common styles of chicken preparation.
As with any grilled dish, grilled chicken picks up the flavors of smoke and char that a grill imparts. In general, both contribute bitter flavors to the finished dish. As with fried chicken, it is good to have a wine that can offer up some contrast to this bitter element. In this case, a wine with a touch of sweetness will make a good match. You can flavor grilled chicken with just about anything, and there’s always the question of saucing the chicken, which is common in dishes described as barbecue chicken.
We’ll ignore the saucier dishes since very few wines have what it takes to stand up to typical barbecue sauces, though two wines that do have a chance are off-dry Lambrusco and sparkling Shiraz.