If you're trying to figure out what wine goes with chicken, look no further! Whether you are grilling or roasting, whether your flavors are light and bright or hearty and rich, we've got all of the best wine pairings for chicken dishes.
Whether you're throwing a last minute dinner party or cooking a quick weeknight dinner for the family, chicken is one of those proteins that is easy and delicious.
We've got so many amazing chicken recipes for you to try! And if you're looking to pair the just the right wine, we've got you covered.
Chicken pairs so well with a variety of wines. The right pairing, however, depends on a good match between the intensity, flavors, acidity, and tannins of the wine with the preparation and flavors of the chicken dish.
Be sure to save this wine pairing post for your next chicken dinner!
- Wine pairing tips
- White wine pairings with chicken
- Best chicken dishes that pair with white wine
- Red wine pairings with chicken
- Best chicken dishes to pair with red wine
- Rosé wine pairing with chicken
- Best chicken dishes for rosé wine
- Sparkling wine with chicken
- Best chicken dishes to pair with sparkling wine
- Food and wine pairing FAQs
- Wines that don't pair well with chicken
- Chicken recipes to try
Wine pairing tips
Pairing wine with chicken can be a delightful experience when done right. Here are the top three things to keep in mind when selecting the perfect wine to complement your chicken dish:
- Match the Wine Intensity with the Dish - Lighter dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay are ideal for lighter chicken dishes such as grilled chicken breast or or poached chicken. Meanwhile, richer wines like Pinot Noir or Merlot work well with heartier preparations using chicken thighs. Think dishes like Moroccan chicken, chicken adobo, coq au vin or chicken cacciatore. Ensure that the wine's body and flavor profile are in harmony with the chicken dish's weight and flavors.
- Pay Attention to the Sauce and Seasonings - For instance, the creamy sauce in Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta pairs beautifully with a buttery Chardonnay. Meanwhile, a spicy or tangy sauce, like in this Kung Pao Chicken, may benefit from a sweeter wine like Riesling.
- Think About the Cooking Method - The way the chicken is cooked can greatly influence your wine choice. Grilled chicken often pairs well with wines that have bright acidity. Try a Sauvignon Blanc to counterbalance the smoky flavors. Roasted chicken, on the other hand, can go splendidly with white or red wines. This is depending on the accompanying ingredients.
White wine pairings with chicken
Chardonnay - The Classic Companion to Roast Chicken
When you think of roast chicken, the word "classic" often comes to mind. It's fitting, then, that a classic white wine like Chardonnay pairs wonderfully with this timeless dish.
Chardonnay's buttery texture and flavors of apple and pear enhance the succulence of roast chicken. The creamy sauce in dishes like Tuscan chicken pasta also pairs well with Chardonnay's richness.
Sauvignon Blanc - Light and Zesty for Grilled Chicken
With its smoky char, grilled chicken requires a wine that can keep up with its zesty flavors. Sauvignon Blanc has crisp acidity and vibrant notes of citrus, grass, and green apple. Adding a refreshing kick to your palate.
Riesling - A Sweet Touch for Spicy Chicken
If you enjoy a bit of heat with your chicken, try a Riesling. Its off-dry to sweet profile and high acidity create a cooling effect that balances spicy food. It's great with dishes like Thai chicken curry or Buffalo chicken. The wine has notes of apricot, green apple, and honey. These elevate the flavors and provide a pleasant contrast to the heat.
Best chicken dishes that pair with white wine
- Roast Chicken - White wines like Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, or Viognier work beautifully with roast chicken. The buttery texture and flavors of apple, pear, and subtle vanilla notes complement the succulence of roast chicken, creating a harmonious pairing.
- Chicken in Creamy Sauces - Dry white wines, particularly those with some weight and complexity, are perfect for dishes featuring creamy sauces, such as chicken in a white wine and mushroom sauce.
- Chicken Bruschetta - The zesty and tangy flavors of chicken bruschetta are elevated by the crisp acidity and citrus notes in white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Albariño.
- Chicken Salad - Light and crisp white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, are ideal for chicken salads. They refresh the palate and complement the freshness.
- Lemon Herb Chicken - Aromatic white wines with herbaceous and citrusy notes, like Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling, pair exceptionally well with dishes that feature lemon and herb-marinated chicken. The wine's freshness complements the bright flavors.
- Chicken Tacos or Fajitas: When serving Mexican-inspired chicken dishes, consider pairing them with a light, slightly fruity white wine like a Spanish Albariño. The wine's flavors can complement the spices and the various components of chicken fajitas and salsa chicken.
- Coconut-Curry Chicken -For Thai coconut curry, a slightly sweet and aromatic white wine like Gewürztraminer or Riesling can balance the heat and complement the dish's tropical flavors.
- Chicken and Asparagus - Asparagus is known for being a tricky vegetable to pair with wine, but a light, crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or an unoaked Chardonnay, can work well with chicken and asparagus combinations.
- Chicken and Rice Dishes - Full-bodied white wines, like Viognier or an oaked Chardonnay, can enhance chicken and rice dishes by adding complexity and a hint of vanilla or spice notes to the pairing.
Red wine pairings with chicken
Pinot Noir - A Red Wine Elegance for Chicken Dishes
When it comes to a versatile wine for chicken, Pinot Noir shines. Its light to medium body and flavors of red berries, cherries, and subtle earthiness complement a wide range of chicken preparations. Whether it's a simple chicken bruschetta, or even a rich chicken Marsala, Pinot Noir's delicate nature pairs beautifully.
Merlot - A Full-Bodied Pairing for Hearty Chicken
For heartier chicken dishes like Instant Pot chicken adobo or Instant Pot Cajun chicken pasta, a robust red wine like Merlot is a great pairing. It has velvety texture and flavors of plum, cherry, and a touch of earthiness. This provides a full-bodied experience that complements the rich, complex flavors of these dishes. Merlot's smooth finish rounds out the meal, leaving you with a satisfying and comforting dining experience.
Best chicken dishes to pair with red wine
- Chicken Marsala - With its sweet and savory Marsala wine sauce, chicken marsala pairs beautifully with a red wine that's not too heavy. Opt for a light to medium-bodied red, such as a Pinot Noir, which won't overpower the subtle flavors of the sauce.
- Barbecue Chicken - For grilled or barbecued chicken with smoky and tangy flavors, a red wine with good acidity and fruitiness works well. Zinfandel, Malbec, or a fruity Merlot can complement the bold barbecue sauce and charred notes.
- Chicken with Mushroom Sauce - For dishes featuring chicken with a rich mushroom sauce, look for a red wine with earthy and mushroom-like notes. A Pinot Noir or a light to medium-bodied red Burgundy can be a great match.
- Spicy Chicken Dishes - If your chicken dish packs some heat, like Kung Pao Chicken, consider red wines with a touch of sweetness to balance the spiciness. A slightly off-dry or fruity red wine like a Lambrusco or a fruity Zinfandel can be a good choice.
- Chicken and Tomato-Based Dishes - Red wines like Sangiovese or a red blend work well with chicken cajun pasta and chicken minestrone. The wine's acidity complements the acidity in the tomatoes and adds depth to the meal.
- Chicken Stew - A hearty chicken stew with root vegetables and aromatic herbs is a great match for red wines with a bit of body and spice. Consider a Syrah, Grenache, or a red Rhône blend to complement the savory stew.
- Curry Chicken - If you're serving chicken in a spicy curry, a fruity and aromatic red wine like a Shiraz or a Malbec can be a good pairing choice. The wine's fruity notes can balance the spice and complement the dish's flavors.
Rosé wine pairing with chicken
The balanced acidity, fruitiness, and adaptability of rosé wines make it an excellent choice for chicken dishes.
Whether a light pink or darker hue rosé wine, the fruity and floral notes bring a refreshing character to lighter chicken dishes. Rosé wine's acidity and delicate flavors of strawberry, watermelon, and citrus enliven the chicken entrées.
Rosé and chicken are a match made for sunny picnics and light lunches!
Best chicken dishes for rosé wine
- Chicken Tarragon - A dish featuring chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce can be beautifully complemented by the crisp acidity and floral notes of rosé wine. The wine adds a refreshing contrast to the richness of the sauce.
- Chicken Kebabs - Greek Chicken Souvlaki Skewers work well with rosé wine. The wine's brightness can balance the charred notes and enhance the spices in the dish.
- Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken - A classic roast chicken with a lemon and garlic rub is an excellent pairing for rosé wine. The wine's acidity and fruitiness align with the citrusy and aromatic components of the dish.
- Chicken with Salsa - Dishes that feature chicken with a fresh tomato or fruit-based salsa, such as mango or pineapple salsa, are great companions for rosé wine. The wine's fruity and zesty notes enhance the vibrancy of the salsa.
- Chicken Stir-Fry - Light, vegetable-packed chicken stir-fries like Chicken Yakisoba with a touch of soy or ginger are enhanced by rosé wine's versatility. The wine's crispness complements the stir-fry's flavors and brings a refreshing element to the meal.
- Chicken with Pesto - Dishes featuring chicken and a fresh basil pesto sauce are well-suited to rosé wine. The wine's acidity and herbal notes can elevate the vibrant flavors of the pesto.
- Chicken Fajitas - The bright, fruity notes in rosé wine can complement the flavors of chicken fajitas, especially when paired with colorful bell peppers and onions.
- Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken - Grilled chicken marinated in lemon and herbs pairs wonderfully with rosé wine. The wine's citrusy and floral characteristics complement the fresh, bright flavors of the dish.
Sparkling wine with chicken
Sparkling wine can be a delightful and unexpected choice to pair with chicken dishes. The effervescence and acidity of sparkling wine can cut through the richness of many chicken preparations. This creates a harmonious and palate-cleansing experience.
Best chicken dishes to pair with sparkling wine
Here's how well sparkling wine pairs with different types of chicken dishes and some examples of ideal pairings:
- Fried Chicken - Sparkling wine plus chicken equals my absolute favorite wine and food pairing. It's a classic great wine pairing, for good reason. With its lively bubbles and refreshing acidity, sparkling wine is a great choice. It complements the crispy, fried texture of chicken. The effervescence of sparkling wine refreshes the palate between bites, making it a perfect match for this indulgent dish. Try it with classic fried chicken, chicken tenders, or even fried chicken sandwiches.
- Chicken and Waffles - The combination of savory fried chicken and sweet, fluffy waffles is a match made in heaven. Sparkling wine's effervescence and slight sweetness can contrast and balance the flavors of this popular comfort food. The bubbles provide a delightful contrast to the rich, syrup-drenched dish.
- Chicken Salad - Sparkling wine is a wonderful choice for chicken salad. Its crispness and effervescence complement the freshness of the salad's ingredients. The light, fruity notes in sparkling wine can enhance the flavors of the chicken, greens, and dressing. This makes it a perfect choice for a refreshing and light lunch.
- Spicy Chicken Dishes - Sparkling wine, often slightly sweet or off-dry, can be a lifesaver when dealing with spicy chicken dishes. The sweetness and effervescence help cool the palate and provide relief from the heat. Try it with dishes like spicy chicken curry or hot chicken wings.
Food and wine pairing FAQs
While it's a general guideline, it's not a strict rule. You can pair white wine with chicken and red wine with certain chicken dishes depending on the preparation and flavors.
One of the most common mistakes when pairing wine with chicken is overlooking the specific preparation and flavors of the chicken dish. Chicken can be prepared in various ways, from roasted to grilled, and it can be served with a wide range of sauces and seasonings. The mistake often made is assuming that one type of wine, such as a white wine for all chicken dishes, will work universally.
Wines that don't pair well with chicken
While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wine pairing with chicken, some wine styles are generally considered less ideal companions for chicken dishes.
- Heavy, Tannic Reds - Highly tannic red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, are often less preferred for chicken dishes. Their robust tannins can overwhelm the subtler flavors of chicken and its preparations.
- Very Sweet Dessert Wines - Extremely sweet wines, like Port or Sauternes, are typically not the first choice for pairing with savory chicken dishes. These wines are better suited to desserts and may not complement the savory components of chicken.
- Overly Oaked Whites - White wines with excessive oak aging, such as heavily oaked Chardonnay, might not pair well with delicate chicken dishes, as the oak can overpower the chicken's flavors.
- High-Alcohol Wines - Wines with very high alcohol content, like some Zinfandels or Shiraz, may not be the best match for lighter chicken preparations as the alcohol can dominate the palate and clash with the chicken's flavors.
Pairing wine with chicken dishes is a delightful journey through the world of flavors. Choosing the right wine for the specific type of chicken dish can transform your meals into a culinary adventure.
Cheers to a well-paired meal that's sure to tantalize your taste buds and elevate your dining experience!