Discovering the ideal combination of food and drink can set off a fireworks display in your mouth. Amazing wine and food pairings are no longer the exclusive domain of stuffy sommeliers in fine dining establishments.
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A wide variety of alcoholic companions, from wine to beer to bubbly, are appropriate for fried chicken, arguably the most iconic dish in the Southern food canon. We’ve included a range of delicious, drinkable options to complement your meal.
Scroll down if you’d rather read the answers than watch the video, but rest assured that all your questions are addressed in the clip down below.
White wine: skip the fat and focus on the aromas. Many people’s first thought when presented with the challenge of matching white wine with fried chicken is to reach for a rich, buttery chardonnay or a wine made from Rhone grapes like marsanne or roussane. The fried chicken’s saltiness can make these wines taste flat or sour. Try a riesling or a grüner veltliner instead for a refreshing change of pace. Similarly to how lemonade is a great complement to fried chicken at a picnic, many rieslings from Germany’s Mosel River Valley have a great balance between sweetness and acidity. Try to find rieslings labeled “kabinett,” which indicates that they are relatively light wines made from fully mature grapes. These aren’t quite as dry as those labeled “trocken,” but they’re not as sweet as “spätlese” or “auslese,” either.
Sangria: Viva Espaa! Unlike white wine, which can be difficult to pair with fried chicken, red wine is a natural fit because its fat-cutting tannins complement the fried chicken’s fatty, crispy exterior. Look for a wine that goes well with spices, like a tempranillo or a priorat, as the crust of most fried chicken contains some heavy spice notes (often cayenne, paprika, and garlic powder). One of the most widely grown varieties of grape in Rioja, Spain’s largest wine-producing region, Tempranillo is known for its ability to create robust wines. Tempranillo can stand up to the robust flavors found in Spanish food, which are often reminiscent of those found in Southern cooking. Both of the stars can shine in this tandem, and they can do so without competing for attention.
Invisible hero: champagne A bone-dry Champagne is arguably the best beverage to pair with fried chicken, though this may come as a surprise to some. Oysters, caviar, and popcorn are some of the most well-known food pairings with French Champagne. What is it that connects them all together? Salt. In addition to serving as a palate cleanser for the naturally fatty dish, the sodium in the Champagne heightens the sensation of carbonation and brings out more pronounced flavors. Because of the acidity, you won’t get bored and give up too soon.
Then again, maybe beer is more your style.There aren’t many cold beers out there that wouldn’t go great with a plate of crisp chicken. Still, if you want to take your beer pairing skills to the next level, we offer two recommendations. In the first place, the IPA or imperial IPA’s bitterness goes well with the fatty fried chicken. The beer’s bitter hoppiness will cut through the fat of the chicken and refresh your palate, much like salty and fatty cured pork (bacon, ham hocks, country ham) can be used to mellow the bitter edge of braised collard greens. Last but not least, don’t worry if the convenience store is your only option for acquiring beer. You should grab a frosty Miller High Life. The beer has a similar palate-cleansing effect to actual Champagne, earning it the nickname “Champagne of beers,” and bringing it to a picnic is not likely to elicit any strange looks.
Chef Jeffrey Gardner grew up in Natchez, Mississippi, and went on to earn degrees from Millsaps and Johnson & Wales. He currently resides in Atlanta, where he has held the position of sous chef at the acclaimed South City Kitchen Midtown and Alma Cocina. He was named one of Atlanta’s “Next Generation of Chefs to Watch” and accepted the position of executive chef at Common Quarter in East Cobb in 2013. As well as filming a series of healthy cooking videos with retired pro wrestler and fitness guru Diamond Dallas Page, he has appeared on television shows such as Chopped on the Food Network and How to Live to 100 on the Cooking Channel. He and his wife, Wendy, are avid world explorers, and he spends his free time playing board games and watching game shows while “wasting all his money on Bruce Springsteen concerts.”