Chicken and Wine Pairing Guide Presented By THEGRAPE

Food & Wine Friday: Chicken and Wine Pairing Guide Presented by The Grape

This Week In Food & Wine: Chicken and Wine Pairing Guide

Have you ever wondered what the most popular type of meat is? Well, according to a 2012 Earth Policy Institute study, as reported by NPR [A Nation Of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up], for the first time in more than 100 years Chicken has claimed the #1 spot as the average American eats 57.4 lbs of chicken versus 52.3 lbs of beef annually. What is the reason for this shift? For some chicken is the healthier choice. For others chicken is cheaper. Whatever your reason, at we understand, like wine, chicken is an important part of your life and because of this we’d like to help you with your chicken and wine pairings. In this food & wine pairing guide we’ll highlight popular chicken recipes, like Buffalo wings, BBQ chicken and chicken fajitas, and pair them with the best wines and wine deals.

Before we begin let us share this wine and chicken pairing note: Don’t automatically assume white wines are best paired with chicken! Instead, carefully consider the recipes flavors before deciding between a red or white wine. Ok, here we go!


#1 – Grilled Chicken Quesadillas and Wine

Chicken quesadillas are healthy, delicious and easy to make. With your chicken pieces cut thinly and grilled quickly, you’ll be enjoying your meal and a glass of wine in 15 – 20 minutes. With Monterey Jack cheese, finely chopped spinach, freshly diced avocado or guacamole and fresh Pico de Gallo or green tomatillo salsa, this simple combination of ingredients will leave you satisfied. Consider the Monterey Jack cheese (Riesling), green tomatillo salsa (Sauvignon Blanc) and Pico de Gallo (Merlot) when pairing wines.

Chicken Quesadilla and Wine Pairing: Eroica Riesling

Chicken Quesadilla and Red Wine Pairing: Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Merlot


#2 – BBQ Chicken and Wine

The ultimate bbq chicken dinner is a labor of love, given the time it will take to prepare, 60+ minutes. But the reward is a most delicious meal that is healthy and will be enjoyed by all. Ingredients may include fresh green spices, brown sugar, onion, molasses, vinegar, paprika and pepper, so try white (Chardonnay) and red (Pinot Noir) wines that won’t be overwhelmed by the number or presence of flavors.

BBQ Chicken and Wine Pairing: Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru Blanc

BBQ Chicken and Wine Pairing: Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir


#3 – Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Wine

Healthy? Check. Simple? Check. Delicious? Check. Chicken lettuce wraps are all of these things and more! More importantly, they’re easy to eat and enjoy. Throw in a little dressing and a glass of wine and it’s a little slice of heaven. Ingredients may include garlic, onion, soy or teriyaki sauce, rice wine vinegar, lemon, tomato, bell pepper, avocado, mushrooms, carrots and bleu cheese. Consider the teriyaki or soy sauce (Syrah/Shiraz), the lemon & tomato (Chenin or Sauvignon Blanc) and bleu cheese (Viognier or White Bordeaux) when pairing wines.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Wine Pairing: Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier

Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Wine Pairing: Oliverhill Red Silk Shiraz/Syrah


#4 – Chicken Fajitas and Wine

Who doesn’t enjoy marinated chicken, hot of the fry pan, infused with flavors of garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper, and accompanied by bell pepper, onion, cheese, guacamole, salsa and sour cream? At this point we, team, have to believe your mouth is watering because ours are! Because of the infusion of bold flavors you’ll need an equally bold wine. We suggest red wine pairings of Malbec, Tempranillo or Zinfandel, as each is rich in flavor, with hints of both sweet and spice.

Chicken Fajitas and Wine Pairing: Montebuena Rioja Tempranillo

Chicken Fajita and Wine Pairing: Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel


#5 – Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken and Wine

Another labor of love on our list of chicken & wine pairings is a roasted rosemary and lemon chicken. This amazing collection of flavors may include lemon & rosemary (obviously), butter, olive oil, cloves, garlic and salt and pepper. This food & wine pairing may seem a bit more obvious, as we suggest trying a Chardonnay, White Bordeaux or similar white wines.

Rosemary Chicken and Wine Pairing: L’Ecole 41 Luminesce Bordeaux White Blends


#6 – Spanish Chicken & Rice and Wine

Sometimes you just want to cook it, chop it, mix it and eat it! That’s why we love Spanish chicken and rice. Well, that’s one reason. Of course there are the incredible ingredients and flavors, including salt & pepper, bell peppers, garlic, onion, paprika, tomatoes and white rice. While some of you may prefer white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon), there are those of you who will prefer a red wine (Pinot Noir or Red Wine Blend). Pay close attention to the recipes ingredients when deciding on the best wine pairing for your palate.

Spanish Chicken & Rice and Wine: Tilia Torrontes

Spanish Chicken and Rice and Wine Pairing: The Prisoner Wine Company Prisoner


#7 – Chicken Enchiladas and Wine

There’s something inherently exciting about enchiladas. Maybe it’s the fun of eating a taco-like meal with a fork and knife, which presents an interesting dichotomy. Maybe it’s that we get to pour salsa all over them, smearing each bite in salsa-y goodness. Either way, this dish combined with wine will make for a heartwarming meal, reminiscent of your childhood (minus the wine). The ingredients and flavors may include onions, garlic, corn, various chilies, tomatoes, Jack and Cheddar cheese, cilantro, scallions, cumin, chili powder, a Mexican spice mix and salt & pepper. A white wine (Chenin Blanc or White Bordeaux) will pair well with these enchiladas due to the presence of cheeses and spice but you may also wish to consider a red wine (Beaujolais or Malbec) that will hold its own against the abundance of flavors.

Chicken Enchilada and Wine Pairing: Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc

Chicken Enchilada and Wine Pairing: Louis Jadot Morgon Ch. des Jacques Gamay


#8 – Fried Chicken and Wine

Though not the healthiest option on our chicken and wine pairing list, fried chicken is a guilty pleasure that should be enjoyed at least once a year. With a whole lot of crunch, a “just right” juiciness and a hint of spice, you’ll wish you could indulge with this meal more often. But alas, enjoy it while you can alongside a delicious glass of red wine (Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo) or white wine (Chardonnay or White Bordeaux). A simple recipe will include ingredients and flavors of buttermilk, paprika and salt & pepper. In 30 – 45 minutes with the biggest smile on your face and a sense of satisfaction from your mouth to your tummy, you’ll wish you hadn’t, as you know you shouldn’t, while being glad you did!

Fried Chicken and Wine Pairing: Marchesi di Gresy Nebbiolo Martinenga


#9 – Buffalo Chicken Wings and Wine

A game day favorite, Buffalo-style chicken wings are almost too easy to eat! Alongside your favorite veggies, like carrots, broccoli and celery, and a basket of French fries, the smile on your face will be covered in sauce, while your belly fills with good sides, good times and good wines. With a mix of flavors, including hot sauce, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper, butter and frying oil, you’ll really appreciate a red wine (Zinfandel or Cabernet Franc) or white wine (Rhone Blend or Gewürztraminer) that won’t be overcome by the onslaught of spices barreling down your throat! Find wines that have a personality all their own, including forward fruits that you’ll find refreshing against the backdrop of hot and spicy.

Buffalo Chicken Wings and Wine: Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc Rhone White Blend

Buffalo Chicken Wings and Wine Pairing: World’s End Against the Wind Reserve Cabernet Franc


#10 – Chicken Casserole and Wine

We can’t decide if it’s the word or the mix of creaminess, layered under a crisp but soft crust that makes “casserole” seem so down to earth and comforting. It’s a good thing it doesn’t really matter because like you, we intend to enjoy it anytime it’s placed in front of us! The thought of freshly chopped onions, chicken and parsley, with roasted peppers and freshly grated cheese; all mixed with melted butter, cream of mushroom soup, white wine and topped with toasted sourdough bites, leaves little to be desired! Except the spork we’ll use to dig in with great anticipation; as if it were our last meal! And of course, you’ll enjoy a glass of white wine (Chardonnay or Champagne) as you wash all of that goodness down!

Chicken Casserole and Wine Pairing: Louis Roederer Carte Blanche Champagne

Chicken Casserole and Wine Pairing: Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay


#11 – Pulled Chicken Sandwich and Wine Pairing

The Pulled Chicken sandwich is like a healthier Sloppy Joe or a twist on the popular Smoked Pulled Pork Barbecue sandwich. And while those are delicious, we’re going to stick with the chicken sandwich today. Even though you won’t have the same level of smoked meat flavor as you would with pulled pork, if properly grilled and covered in a sea of smoky bbq sauce, you won’t notice much difference. Besides, you should focus more on the delicious ingredients and flavors, including onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, Monterey Jack cheese and the aforementioned bbq sauce. The abundance of sauce and vinegar means your better off choosing a red wine (Rioja, Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon) for maximum enjoyment. Wines with hints of smoke or higher tannin levels will surely do the trick.

Pulled Chicken Sandwich and Wine: Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva Sangiovese


#12 – Sweet & Sour Chicken and Wine

Most of us enjoy a good bowl of white rice. Combined with the right ingredients and flavors, it can be very filling and more than satisfying. Consider chopped red and green peppers, pineapples, chicken stock, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar and salt & pepper when deciding on a white wine pairing (Riesling or Sparkling White). The presence of vinegar may make it difficult to truly enjoy a red wine so look for white wines that have complementary flavors.

Sweet & Sour Chicken and Wine Pairing: Toad Hollow Risque French Sparkling Wine


#13 – Chicken Cobb Salad and Wine

There’s something about eating a green salad that leaves you feeling good about yourself but hungry to boot. Enter the Chicken Cobb Salad, the mother load of salads! With so many ingredients packed in, we often find ourselves with leftovers after lunch. When considering your best wine pairings, whether red wine (Pinot Noir) or fruity, white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay), account for the ingredients and flavors, including chicken, olive oil, egg, tomato, avocado, bacon, bleu cheese, onion and salt & pepper. And of course we mustn’t forget your favorite dressing.

Chicken Cobb Salad and Wine Pairing: Donum Carneros Chardonnay

Chicken Cobb Salad and Wine: Donum Carneros Estate Grown Pinot Noir


#14 – Chicken Parmesan and Wine Pairing

What can you say about Chicken Parmesan? Between the sauce, the pasta noodles, the chicken and the Parmesan cheese, what’s not to love! It’s like hodgepodge of all (or some) of your favorite childhood ingredients. This dish is best paired with red wines (Sangiovese, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon) that won’t be dominated by the presence of tomato sauce and cheese. But you also needn’t pick a red wine so bold it mutes the flavors of this wonderful dish.

Chicken Parmesan and Wine Pairing: Frog’s Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Final Wine Pairing Notes:

#1: At The Grape we ask that you always remember this one thing when pairing food and wine. There is NOT a One-Size-Fits-All answer or guide to pairing wine! Each of our palates, tastes and preferences are unique. Do your research and find wines that have flavors you’ll enjoy, as this is the best way to ensure you have the most enjoyable food & wine tasting experience you possibly can.

#2: When pairing wines with your best chicken recipes, experiment with similar wines to those that are suggested. For example, try White Bordeaux in place of Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc for Sangiovese or Riesling for Gewürztraminer (or vice versa). There are similarities between the grape varietals that make all the difference for you and your palate.

From everyone at, we really appreciate you taking the time to read’s Chicken & Wine Pairing Guide. We hope that it was helpful and informative. After you’ve had a chance to find the wine and chicken pairings that best work for you, come back and share (at, on Facebook or in the comments below) with everyone at the grape what you’ve learned and experienced. We’d all be forever grateful. Have a Grapetastic day and, “Keep living the grape life!” Cheers!

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