Take a peek at these sommelier-approved wine and fried chicken pairings for your next bucket of extra crispy.
“Crisp, crunchy, yet succulent… fried chicken pairs ‘awesomely’ with sparkling wine.” –Madeline Puckette
Fried Chicken Wine Pairings
When it comes to pairing wine with fried chicken, your best bet is sparkling wine. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to pairing fried chicken with coke, lemonade, or sweet tea ever again.
Why? There’s a lot of oil, salt, and fat in fried chicken. (Sad, but true, and also so delicious!) With abundant acidity, effervescence, and complementary flavors, sparkling wine effortlessly cuts through all of it, cleansing and refreshing your palate with every bite – sans the bloating. Consider the following and look for Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, and Dry examples were you can. (Dry is sweeter than you think!)
- Champagne – If you’re going for broke.
- Crémant – If you’re already broke.
- Cava – If you want something dry, lean, and with zesty aromatics and a great quality-value ratio.
- Prosecco – If you want something a little more on the sweeter, fruiter side that’s also fairly affordable.
- Sparkling Rosé – If you’re dealing with spice and heat.
Wine Pairing Alternatives
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- Tempranillo – Savory notes and fat-softening tannins make this wine a winner.
- Riesling – Aromatic sweetness and high acidity in Riesling cut through fat and embellish the umami notes in fried chicken.
- Lambrusco – The tannin and acid in this oft-maligned Italian red wine plays well with fats.
- Furmint – Whether dry (smoke, pears, lime) or sweet (stone fruit, sugar), this thick, but acidic Hungarian wine is worth your consideration.
- Grüner Veltliner – You’ll need acid with fried chicken. You’ll get it with Grüner.
- Sparking Shiraz – What you want with anything sweet and tangy, like you like.
Fried Chicken Wine Pairing Examples
Southern Fried Chicken with Champagne
Seasoned chicken, rolled in flour, with just a bit of paprika, garlic, and black pepper, and fried in vegetable oil. Champagne (or Crémant) cuts through the grease like a sharp, acidic blade. High-low dining at its finest.
Nashville Hot Chicken with Extra-Dry Prosecco
Marinated in buttermilk and cased in a paste of fiery cayenne, this is the bird that bites back. For this, we’re thinking an extra-dry Prosecco with its sweet-smelling aromatics and smooth mouthfeel will help quell the heat of capsicum and other tingly sensations.
Buffalo Wings with Sparkling Rosé
Sparkling Rosé. Fuller, more unctuous than leaner sparklers, the sweeter, more intense red fruit notes (think strawberries, white cherries) easily holds its own against this tart, buttery take on fried chicken.
Maryland Fried Chicken with Sparkling Riesling (aka Sekt)
It may look light, but this Mid-Atlantic take on a Southern classic is fried in lard until golden with gravy to go on top. Yowza. For this heavy hitter, we’re calling on sparkling Riesling for its pronounced acidity, orchard fruit notes, and aromatic sweetness. Sekt is the German and Austrian word for sparkling wine.
Korean Double-Fried Chicken with Lambrusco
Try a dry or semi-sweet Lambrusco, a sparkling Italian red wine with cherry and blackberry notes that match well with chicken marinated in soy sauce, ginger, and sugar.
Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage) with Chablis or Assyrtiko
This delicate Tempura-like chicken dish from Japan calls for mineral-forward, lemon-driven white wines. For us, it’s a two-way tie between Chablis and Assyrtiko. Seriously, flip a coin and you can’t go wrong.
Fittingly, you could also try: Junmai Daiginjo. This is a premium Sake made from pure rice without any additives.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken Steak (Xiange Ji Pai) with Grenache or Zinfandel
Hey there, red wine fans! Thought we forgot about you? Never. This fried chicken dish is rather unique: it’s not marinated, it features sweet potato starch, and it comes with a dusting of five-spice powder. The unique flavor profile calls for something just as spiced, earthy, and complex, which is why we were evenly divided between Grenache and Zinfandel.
Chicharron de Pollo with Cava
With dominating lemon-lime flavors and zap-your-mouth acidity, Cava is the only real pick for this delicious recipe that features olive oil, lime juice, adobo, and cilantro.
KFC with Korbel
The preferred pairing of wine writers everywhere. 😉
It’s hard to find a place that serves fried chicken with fine wine. (It’s downright criminal, really.) But hopefully, with this guide, we’ve helped you take this soon-to-be classic pairing into your own hands.
Didn’t get the answer you need or simply disagree on a few of our calls? Don’t be a chicken. Let us know in the comments.