Chicken is probably one of the most versatile food items you can find. It’s used as an ingredient all around the world to create very different delicious dishes. You can find it in light and savory meals, in soups and salads, with spicy and sweet seasonings. If you want to pair chicken and wine, you need to know your meal’s flavor profile first. Based on that, you can find the right wine to match it. In this article, you will learn about the best wine and chicken pairings.

When pairing wine and chicken, pick a dry white wine that is as intense as the meal: Try light wines and chicken dishes with vegetables and light, white sauces. If your dish is made with a savory sauce and intense spices, go for a bolder white or a lighter red.

In some cases, even fuller-bodied reds, sparkling wines, or sweet wines can be good matches. In this article, we will discuss the general rules for pairing wine and chicken. And we will shed light on the most popular chicken dishes and the wines to match them.

What Is Chicken and How Does It Taste?

Chickens belong to the poultry category. They are the most widespread livestock worldwide. One reason is that breading chicken isn’t as expensive as other animals such as cattle or pigs. So even in poorer countries, it’s an affordable option. Another reason is that eating poultry is compatible with the rules of most religions. As a consequence, people from all around the world have created chicken dishes with regional ingredients and spices.

Chicken meat has a tender texture but a rather neutral flavor. Especially the breast fillet hasn’t much taste of its own. Compared to other types of meat, such as beef or game, it’s much less flavorful. To avoid serious health risks, it’s necessary to boil it thoroughly before eating it. Thus, it’s typically very dry.

The legs and thighs, also called dark meat, are tastier and juicier than the breast fillet. The reason is their higher fat content. The giblets, particularly hearts and livers, are even stronger in flavor.

As mentioned before, chicken meat has to be boiled thoroughly before consumption. So there is no medium-rare or bloody variation. However, the ways to prepare chicken are numerous. Besides boiling, grilling and roasting are the most common methods. The preparation and the seasoning can lead to very versatile flavor profiles.

How to Pair Wine and Chicken

When you pair wine and chicken, consider the preparation method first:

  • Pair boiled, poached, or roasted variations that you serve chilled with light white wines.
  • Roasted chicken that is served warm is great with richer whites, rosé wines, or light-bodied reds.
  • Combine a medium- to full-bodied red wine and chicken dishes that were grilled.
  • For fried and intensely spiced dishes, consider a sparkling wine.

These rules give you rough guidelines for pairing wine and chicken. To get a deeper understanding, let’s have a look at some specific examples now.

BBQ Style Chicken and Wine

The summer season is also barbeque season. And besides steaks and sausages, chicken is a common food for grilling. There are many ways to prepare BBQ chicken. Based on the marinade and sauce, it can be somewhat mild, sweet, or very savory. The specific seasoning plays a big role in finding the right wine to pair it.

When prepared with a simple marinade, grilled chicken is very versatile. It goes well with light red wine such as Pinot Noir or Gamay.

For herbal marinades, a Garnacha from Spain is an excellent option:

Bodegas Mas Alta La Basseta 2006

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Priorat
  • varietal: Carignan, Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Bodegas Mas Alta Romani La Basseta 2017

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Priorat
  • varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Garnacha
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Clos Figueres Font de la Figuera Priorat 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Priorat
  • varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Garnacha, Monastrell, Syrah
  • alcohol: 15.0%

And as grilling adds smoky flavors to the meat, you can also pair it with oaked white wines. Try a Chardonnay from the New World, for instance, from the United States (check the chicken salad section below for recommendations).

Typical savory BBQ marinades with smokey and slightly fruity notes require a bolder red wine. Zinfandel is a good choice. Its berry aromas will complement the BBQ flavors superbly. Because of its low level of tannins, it isn’t as mouth-drying as many other bold wines. So it’s approachable even for wine beginners.

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Zinfandel
  • alcohol: 15.0%

Rombauer El Dorado Twin Rivers Zinfandel 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Zinfandel
  • alcohol: 16.0%

Hartford Russian River Old Vine Zinfandel 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Zinfandel
  • alcohol: 16.0%

If your marinade is on the sweeter side, you can pick an oaked Monastrell wine. It combines a full body and strong tannins with a fruity bouquet and herbal and floral notes. You might even sense meaty aromas in it, making this wine and chicken pairing even more interesting.

Enrique Mendoza Alicante La Tremenda Monastrell 2018

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Alicante
  • varietal: Mourvedre
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Enrique Mendoza Las Quebradas Monastrell 2018

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Alicante
  • varietal: Mourvedre
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Spain, Yecla
  • varietal: Mourvedre
  • alcohol: 14.0%
Plate of Barbecue Chicken Wings with various Dips

BBQ Chicken Wings with Dips

In case you eat your grilled chicken with a very savory sauce, go for a Cabernet Franc. Its medium tannins and crisp acidity can cut through the sauce, while its aromas of black fruits and spices complement the meat flavors fantastically.

Alternatively, try a Malbec. In particular oaked Malbec often has an exciting finish of sweet tobacco that combines deliciously with the smokey meat flavors.

To match hot marinades with chili, pick a sweet German Riesling wine. The heat of the chicken seasoning and the sweetness of the wine will counter each other. The result is a delicious well-balanced experience.

The following red wines are great for creating savory barbecue chicken and wine pairings:

Domaine Dozon Chinon Clos du Saut au Loup 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Bernard Baudry Chinon La Croix Boissee 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Thierry Germain Saumur Champigny La Marginale 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Crocus L'Atelier Malbec de Cahors 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Southwest France
  • varietal: Malbec
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Cosse et Maisonneuve Cahors Solis Malbec 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Southwest France
  • varietal: Malbec
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Chateau Du Caillau Cahors 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Southwest France
  • varietal: Malbec
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Chicken Teriyaki and Wine

Chicken Teriyaki is typically referred to as an Asian-style dish, although its origin is unclear. The term “teriyaki” is Japanese and translates to “shiny cooking”. But rumors say that this preparation method actually was invented in Hawaii.

Teriyaki is a dark sauce that contains sweet, salty, and often spicy flavors. The main ingredients are soy sauce, cane sugar, ginger, sesame oil, and garlic. In some cases, chefs also use Sake, a Japanese rice wine.

To pair wine and Chicken Teriyaki, you have two options:

First, you can choose a sweet red wine. The Italian sparkling wine Lambrusco is a fabulous option. Its fruity aromas complement the sweet flavors of the sauce, while its fizzyness enhances the experience as a whole.

Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Di Sorbara Vecchia Modena 2020

  • type: red, sparkling, Vintage
  • origin: Emilia-Romagna, Italy​
  • varietal: Lambrusco
  • alcohol: 11.0%

Bertolani Lambrusco Dolce

  • type: red, sparkling
  • origin: Emilia-Romagna, Italy​
  • varietal: Lambrusco
  • alcohol: 12.0%

Venturini Baldini Marchese Manodori Lambrusco

  • type: red, sparkling
  • origin: Emilia-Romagna, Italy​
  • varietal: Lambrusco
  • alcohol: 12.0%

 If you like it even sweeter, go for Spanish Sherry made from Pedro Ximenez grapes. It has a full body, rich aromas of raisins, chocolate, and toffee, and a smooth finish.

Osborne Cream Sherry

  • type: white, fortified, sweet
  • origin: Spain, Andalusia
  • varietal: Pedro Ximénez
  • alcohol: 17.0%

Osborne VORS Venerable 1902 VORS Pedro Ximenez Sherry

  • type: white, fortified, sweet
  • origin: Spain, Andalusia
  • varietal: Pedro Ximénez
  • alcohol: 17.0%

Alvear Solera Cream

  • type: white, fortified, sweet
  • origin: Spain, Andalusia
  • varietal: Pedro Ximénez
  • alcohol: 17.0%

The second option is fruity white wine. Citrus and flower aromas are a fantastic add-on to Teriyaki-style chicken. Look for Chardonnay wines from Australia or New Zealand.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2017

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Australia, Western Australia
  • varietal: Chardonnay
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Australia, Western Australia
  • varietal: Chardonnay
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Stella Bella Chardonnay 2018

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Australia, Western Australia
  • varietal: Chardonnay
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Coq au Vin and Wine

Coq au Vin is a French dish that gourmets around the world know and love. Originally, the main ingredient for it was a rooster, but nowadays, most cooks use chicken instead. They season the meat with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Then, they add bacon, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and carrots and simmer it slowly in red wine. Burgundy wines are the most common wines for this purpose.

After at least 90 minutes of simmering, the chicken meat has absorbed all the rich flavors from the sauce. The chicken gets extremely tender and combines savory, spicy, and slightly sweet aromas.

The most apparent wine pairing for Coq au Vin is red Burgundy. As the wine is already an ingredient in the sauce, you don’t even need to open a new bottle. Make sure to use one of decent quality, though. If you use it as an ingredient in the meal, it shouldn’t be too acidic. Otherwise, it will make the sauce taste sour.

Joseph Drouhin Laforet Pinot Noir 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Burgundy
  • varietal: Pinot Noir
  • alcohol: 12.5%

Remoissenet Beaune Teurons Premier Cru 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Burgundy
  • varietal: Pinot Noir
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Burgundy
  • varietal: Pinot Noir
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Pinot Noir wines from other regions can be good matches, too. If they have a lighter body, they need a bit of acidity to cut through the savory sauce. In any case, the fruity flavors will add deliciously to the flavor profile of the meat.

Chicken Tandoori

Chicken Tandoori is a rich and spicy Indian curry dish. The chicken is marinated with yogurt, lemon juice, and a mix of spices, including cayenne, coriander, cumin, ginger, and turmeric. Afterward, it roasts at very high temperatures in a clay oven, called “Tandoor”. The result of this preparation method is a bold, juicy meal with smoky and earthy flavors.

To match wine and Chicken Tandoori, pay attention to the wine’s body. It should be light to medium, so it doesn’t overpower the meal.

Pinot Noir belongs to this category. It offers both earthy and spicy aromas, such as mushrooms, cloves, and cinnamon, which perfectly complement the Tandoori seasonings. The wine’s fruity notes round up the flavor profile.

If you prefer white wine, pick a Gewürztraminer with fruity and spicy. With its relatively high alcohol content and its crisp acidity, it helps to balance the meal’s spices. Especially wines from the Alsace region are good matches.

Plate of Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

These wines are worth trying:

Trimbach Gewürztraminer 2017

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Alsace, France
  • varietal: Gewürztraminer
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Alsace, France
  • varietal: Gewürztraminer
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Albert Boxler Gewürztraminer Reserve 2018

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Alsace, France
  • varietal: Gewürztraminer
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Fried Chicken and Wine

Frying chicken is a common preparation technique in many parts of the world. In the Western world, it sometimes has a bad reputation because many people associate it with the big fast-food franchises. But actually, fried chicken can be delicious when combined with wine.

The right pairing for fried chicken is sparkling wine. The acidity of these wines can easily cut through the fatty, oily texture of the meat. And the fizzyness intensifies its flavors while also cleaning your palate after every bite.

For Western preparations like Southern Fried Chicken, a dry sparkling wine like Prosecco or Champagne is the right choice:

Cinzano Prosecco

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Veneto, Italy
  • varietal: Glera
  • alcohol: 11.0%

Ca' Furlan Prosecco

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Veneto, Italy
  • varietal: Glera
  • alcohol: 11.0%

Fantinel One and Only Prosecco Brut 2017

  • type: white, sparkling, Vintage
  • origin: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • varietal: Glera
  • alcohol: 12.0%

Ayala Brut Majeur

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Champagne, France
  • varietal: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
  • alcohol: 12.0%

Veuve Clicquot Brut

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Champagne, France
  • varietal: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
  • alcohol: 12.0%

G.H. Mumm Brut Grand Cordon

  • type: white, sparkling
  • origin: Champagne, France
  • varietal: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
  • alcohol: 12.5%

With their variety of flavors and their pleasant heat, preparations from Asian Cuisine also work with sweet sparklers. The formerly mentioned Lambrusco is a good choice, and so are Moscato d’Asti wines:

Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2020

  • type: white, semi-sparkling, Vintage
  • origin: Piedmont, Italy
  • varietal: Muscat
  • alcohol: 6.0%

Vietti Moscato d'Asti Cascinetta 2020

  • type: white, semi-sparkling, Vintage
  • origin: Piedmont, Italy
  • varietal: Muscat
  • alcohol: 5.5%

Ruffino Moscato d'Asti 2020

  • type: white, semi-sparkling, Vintage
  • origin: Piedmont, Italy
  • varietal: Muscat
  • alcohol: 6.0%

Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Wine

As the name says, Moroccan Spiced Chicken comes from the Northern-African country Morocco. Its unique characteristic is the typical spice blend that is used to marinate the chicken. It contains garlic, paprika, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, clove, and lemon juice. The resulting meal is fresh with spicy and herbal flavors and subtle fruity notes. Its taste might remind you of Indian food (like Tandoori Chicken) but significantly milder.

The interesting flavor mix of Moroccan Spiced Chicken opens up a couple of possibilities for wine pairing. Ripasso wines from Italy are a good choice. These dark-red wines are medium-bodied and come with flavors of orange peel, berries, pepper, ginger, and notes of chocolate. In combination with the Moroccan spices, they create a fascinating flavor mix.

In case you feel like experimenting, try a dry rosé wine from the French Rhone Valley. They combine fruity flavors with subtle mineral notes, complementing the chicken flavors superbly:

Chateau D'Aqueria Tavel Rose 2019

  • type: rosé, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Clairette, Cinsault, Grenache
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Prieure de Montezargues Tavel Rose 2018

  • type: rosé, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Bourboulenc, Cinsault, Clairette, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Mourvèdre, Syrah
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel La Dame Rousse Rose 2020

  • type: rosé, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Bourboulenc, Cinsault, Clairette, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah,
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Pollo al Ajillo and Wine

Pollo al Ajillo is a simple meal that originates from Andalucia, a Spanish region on the Mediterranean coast. However, it’s popular all over Spain. Unlike many other meals we’ve discussed so far, Pollo al Ajillo is cooked on the stove. The chicken is prepared with a lot of garlic, lemon, and saffron, and simmers in a white wine sauce until it’s done.

To pair this dish, you need a wine that can stand the dominant garlic flavor. If you prefer white wine, acidity is key. Especially New World Sauvignon Blanc wines with intense citrus flavors can counter strong garlic notes, for instance, from Chile.

For red wine lovers, full-bodied Shiraz wines from Australia are good matches. Their complexity can soften the garlic notes and add exciting aromas:

Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Australia, Barossa
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Two Hands Lily's Garden Shiraz 2017

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Australia, South Australia
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2017

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Rhône Valley
  • varietal: Syrah
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Chicken Salad and Wine

Especially on hot summer days, a chicken salad is a great lunch meal. It’s refreshing and light, but with the chicken slices, it can satisfy your hunger anyhow. The meat is seasoned with rather unintrusive spices such as salt and pepper, then grilled and poached, and finally mixed with the other ingredients. Typically, these ingredients are various vegetables like lettuce, celery, onions, or tomatoes. The most common topping is a mayonnaise-based dressing.

Plate of Salat with Chicken, Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Bread

Chicken Salad

This creamy chicken salad goes well with light white wines with fruity bouquets. Albariño is one of these wines. It comes from the Iberian Peninsula and offers aromas of lime, grapefruit, honeydew, and nectarine. The crisp acidity and the subtle tannins make it a refreshing beverage. And due to its low alcohol content, you can enjoy a glass for lunch without getting tipsy.

A more experimental choice is oaked Chardonnay. It’s significantly bolder with higher alcohol content, and also drier than Albariño. Nevertheless, a rich Chardonnay with creamy aromas of vanilla and butter can pair very well with a similarly creamy chicken salad:

Staglin Chardonnay 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Chardonnay
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Mayacamas Chardonnay 2017

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Chardonnay
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Beringer Luminus Chardonnay 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: United States, California
  • varietal: Chardonnay
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Chicken Paprikash and Wine

Chicken Paprikash (or Paprikás csirke) is a classic from Hungary. This savory dish is famous for its flavorful sauce. It contains tomatoes, sweet paprika, onions, pepper, flour, cream, and sour cream. Typically, Chicken Paprikash is accompanied by either Galuska (also: Spätzle), a German type of egg noodles, or boiled potatoes.

If you want to try a wine from the same region as this meal, go for Furmint. This white varietal produces the famous Hungarian dessert wine Tokaji. Tokaji can be sweet or dry, and the latter one is the right match for Chicken Paprikash:

Oremus Tokaji Dry Furmint Mandolas 2019

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Hungary, Tokaj
  • varietal: Furmint
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Pinot Noir is a red alternative that you can drink with Chicken Paprikash.

Parmesan Chicken and Wine

Originally, the Italian dish that we know as Parmesan Chicken was no chicken dish. The main ingredient was eggplant. But in the second half of the 20th century, it was replaced by tender poultry meat.

With tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, the sauce is a thick, creamy topping for the chicken. Grana Padano cheese for scalloping the meat adds even more richness.

It won’t surprise you that Italian wine is the right pairing for Parmesan Chicken. Chianti, with its medium body, zippy acidity, and well-balanced tannins, is a fantastic option:

Tiamo Chianti 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Da Vinci Chianti 2020

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese, Merlot
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Santa Cristina by Antinori Chianti Superiore 2017

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Bold Cabernet Sauvignon wines are an option too. They come with intense black fruit aromas and notes of tobacco and leather. And they are complex enough to create a rich chicken and wine pairing:

Domaine Dozon Chinon Clos du Saut au Loup 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Bernard Baudry Chinon La Croix Boissee 2018

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Thierry Germain Saumur Champigny La Marginale 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: France, Loire Valley
  • varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Wine and Chicken Lemonato

Chicken Lemonato is a whirlwind of flavors. This Greek dish offers spicy flavors from garlic and mustard, herbal aromas of oregano, fruity lemon taste, and sweet notes of honey. The chicken is baked with all of these ingredients in the oven. Typically it’s served with crispy baked potatoes and creamy Tzatziki.

A delicious wine to drink with Chicken Lemonato is German Riesling. It offers delicate citrus flavors that greatly match the lemon notes, while the crisp acidity can counter the garlic:

Rebholz Von Rotliegenden Riesling Trocken 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Pfalz, Germany
  • varietal: Riesling
  • alcohol: 12.0%

Burklin-Wolf Pfalz Estate Riesling Trocken 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Pfalz, Germany
  • varietal: Riesling
  • alcohol: 12.0%

Von Winning Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Erste Lage Trocken 2020

  • type: white, still, Vintage
  • origin: Pfalz, Germany
  • varietal: Riesling
  • alcohol: 12.0%

If you prefer red wine, go for a Pinot Noir. The red Burgundy wines, we have discussed earlier in this article, are great choices, too.

Final Words

With the variety of preparations and flavors, it can be challenging to pair chicken and wine. After reading this article, you are prepared for this challenge. Try different wines to find out which one you like best with your meal, and don’t shy away from experimenting. You might find a new exciting flavor pair.