The marriage of a good wine with a good chicken dish will improve your enjoyment of both the food and the wine.
Chicken, and particularly roast chicken seems to go well with almost all grape varieties, so I am sorry to tell you we cannot make it easy by saying something like “only drink pinot with chicken’.
With chicken, we need to find a wine that has the right blend of sweetness, acidity, fruitiness and body to complement the meat to perfection.
Wines with roast chicken dishes
We have found a dry but rounded Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon mix rarely disappoints with Chicken Dishes. Recent winners include an Australian Westend Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and a Hardys Stamp of Australia Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2002/03.
Wines with creamy chicken dishes
If you are having a creamy chicken dish, or something with a bit of ‘oomph’ to it (chicken curry or a stroganoff perhaps) you cannot go wrong with a voigner wine. The fantastic rich Viognier grape has a rugged fruity earthiness to it which goes fantastically with chicken dishes like this.
We have yet to find a poor viognier, so give this wine a go yourself.
Wines with tomato based chicken dishes
With a meal that has quite a bit of tomato with the chicken, you could try a French Medoc or a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. Alternatively an Italian Chianti can work with strong tomato chicken and garlic flavours.
Wines with barbecue chicken dishes
When we barbecue chicken we all go a bit mad on the seasoning, smothering the poor bird in powerful marinades and sticky sauces. Most of these have ketchup, vinegar, or mustard and get their sweetness from honey, brown sugar and fruit. You need a strong wine to stand up against such an onslaught of robust flavours.
Go for pwerful fruity red wines with a high alcohol content.
California produces some great wines for the barbecue. Laurel Glen do one called simply ‘Reds’ that will knock your socks off. It is big, bold and delicious.
Rosemount Estate produce a Shiraz that is perfect for serving with chicken drumsticks fresh off the flames.
Other good grape varieties to look at include Grenache, Zinfandel, Chianti or Valpolicella from Italy and Syrah from France.
If you want a french theme to your barbecue then you really will be pleased if you try the reds of the Rhone Valley.