The aroma of chicken roasting in an oven permeates the house and I think it is one of the most appetising cooking smells ever. It is one that send me to my stock of wine looking for a bottle that will complement the food soon to be served.
Chicken is the wine lovers dream food because it works with everything. Food matching guides usually suggest a white Burgundy or similar wines made from the same grape which is Chardonnay. So it’s white wine with white meat, right? No! Good though a full bodied white wine is with roasted chicken, it is a perfect meal for bringing out a special red. The delicate flavour of chicken meat means it won’t overpower a fading red such as that bottle of claret or Pinot Noir that has been aging for perhaps a little too long.
But the dish is just as good with a fresh young red, perhaps a Beaujolais from the Gamay grape or a light German red, or one of the upcoming grape varieties like Lemberger or Kekfrankos. Or a freshly bottled inexpensive Zinfandel.
Or how about a dry rosé wine – it works well, trust me.
If the recipe is for chicken cooked in – or served– with a creamy sauce then the dominating effect will be the sauce and a Chardonnay, which has a its own creamy feel, will be a good pairing. A similar wine gaining popularity now, which would work well with the creamy sauce, is Viognier. When I think of such dishes, though, I am reminded of Alsace. The wines from this area of France are rather overlooked now, but an Alsace Riesling or Pinot Gris would be a great matching.
Let’s finished with another favourite of mine – chicken in breadcrumbs. This takes many forms including Southern Fried and Kiev. I regularly enjoy a flattened chicken breast bread crumbed and fried or baked in a hot oven accompanied with baby boiled potatoes and baked beans. And I serve a spicy red with the meal. Pinotage or Shiraz both are great.
But remember, as always ,my three wine and food matching laws.
- Drink what you prefer because there are no right or wrong pairings.
- Experiment, be adventurous and find your own successes.
- When in doubt, drink your favourite wine.
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them. The publishers asked him write food pairing suggestions to go with the wines. Fifteen thousand copies of the book have been published and not one comment on any of the pairings has been received, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape and while there are no food matching suggestions, he writes ecstatically about the Pinotage Burger.
Roast Chicken And Other Stories
Simon Hopkinson's book won the award for "the most useful cookbook of all time" and for a while it was outselling "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" on Amazon. It's a mix of reminiscences and recipes by a chef. To read reviews over at Amazon just click the book cover.
Fried chicken means KFC to me. In the far east Colonel Sander's statue is decorated with flower garlands like a religious icon. Its red and white striped roof is a welcome sight when driving in the USA and there's many evening when dinner has been KFC in my hotel room with a bottle of spicy red Zinfandel. This is a model of a 1950's KFC drive-in. Makes a fun gift.