Best Wine with Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is one of the best comfort foods in the world, but it’s also one of the most divisive. Some people love it so much that they eat fried chicken sandwiches for breakfast. Others think that breaded wings are only good when dipped in ranch dressing (or even better, buffalo sauce).

The truth is that there’s no wrong way to eat your fried chicken. You just have to find what works for you.

However, if you’re looking for some wine pairing suggestions for your next meal of fried chicken and waffles or crispy thighs with beans and rice, here are some recommendations:

Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner is a white wine from Austria’s Wachau region. It’s often compared to Riesling, but that’s not a fair comparison. Grüner Veltliner has a bit more acidity, less alcohol, and fruit intensity. Its flavors are incredibly complex, with a hint of citrus and tropical fruit in the aromas.

The best way to understand how this wine pairs with fried chicken is by tasting it yourself: Grab a bottle of Grüner Veltliner, then fry up some chicken tenders or wings (or both) and try each out side-by-side. You can also ask your local retailer if they carry any of these wines; if not, ask them where you can find them nearby.

Look out for one of these great examples of Grüner Veltliner:

F.X. Pichler Durnsteiner Kellerberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd

Critic tasting note: (2018 vintage) “A hint of apple freshness and crushed wild thyme savoriness play aromatically on the nose before riper notions of pear and Mirabelle plum hit. On the palate it is saltiness that prevails. A zesty, tingling core of yeasty salt, celery and white pepper sends its wonderfully sharp flavors through the generous fruit on the palate. This is mouthfilling, bold and big but also linear and precise. A picture of bundled, spicy power. Drink 2030–2045. Anne Krebiehl MW” – 96/100Wine Enthusiast

Weingut Prager Stockkultur Achleiten Gruner Veltliner Smaragd

Critic tasting note: (2020 vintage) “This delicious white is ripe, but well balanced with a plethora of exotic aromas and flavors, including pine tree, clementine oranges, cardamom seeds, nectarine and passion fruit. It features a gorgeous texture that caresses the palate, yet the acidity gives it a bit of a crunch. The finish is long and precise. Best from 2024–2034. Aleks Zecevic” – 93/100Wine Enthusiast

Schloss Gobelsburg Renner Gruner Veltliner Reserve Erste OTW Lage

Critic tasting note: (2019 vintage) “Fresh yeast still plays uppermost in the aromatic register of this spicy wine. The palate, enhanced by slight spritz, then speaks of white pepper, crushed sage, lemon freshness and a subtle but insistent yeast. This is gorgeous, slender, savory and utterly moreish. Drink by 2040. Anne Krebiehl MW” – 96/100Wine Enthusiast

Riesling

Riesling is a great choice if you are not having Grüner. A good Riesling has high acidity and low alcohol, which makes it easy to drink with fried chicken. The residual sugar in the wine balances out the saltiness of the chicken.

I recommend these great examples of Riesling:

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett 2017

This Kabinett is a fresh, crisp wine with lingering sweetness balanced by tart lemon-lime acidity. Delicate wisps of smoke and earth lend touches of complexity throughout, adding dimensions to its fruity character.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Spätlese Riesling is richer and more intense in flavor than Kabinett. It comes with a lively minerality that perfectly balances the bright white peach and lemon fruit you’ll find here. Worth seeking out.

Ransom Sunnyside Vineyard Riesling (Willamette Valley of Oregon)

From the vineyard themselves, “This single vineyard, old vine bottling from the South Salem Hills is a classic, terroir-revealing Riesling. Opening with fresh fruit aromas of key lime and pineapple, the palate offers vivid acidity and flavors of Meyer lemon zest and candied ginger wrapped around a mineral vein. The wine finishes fresh and bright, with a beguiling note of honeysuckle blossom. A delight to drink now, but also exceedingly age-worthy.” 

Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is a great choice for fried chicken because it’s light and refreshing, but also has enough acidity to cut through all that fat. This makes pinot noir a good option if you’re looking for something that’s easy to drink and pairs well with other foods. You can pair your fried chicken with pork chops or steak without overwhelming your palate.

Try one of these Pinot Noir with your fried chicken:

2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers

This is towards the more expensive end of the price range but no doubt this is an exceptional wine. Les Pruliers has a strong color. The wine offers aromas of fresh red fruit, wild prunes, and licorice. As it ages, it adds depth and roundness. It has aromas of cocoa, and smoked meat.

2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge

More affordable is the Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and naturally delicious. It has a fresh, crunchy, summer pudding fruit flavor with crisp acidity and just lip-smacking moreishness. And because it’s low in sulfur, it’s great for summer or winter drinking.

2018 Corazza Pinot Nero

At the lower end of the price range is the Pinot Nero. This is a unique wine from Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy. It’s made from the pinot noir grape and is unlike other pinot noirs you might be used to. It’s light, bright, and easy to drink.

Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Both Champagne and sparkling wine are good with fried chicken, but Champagne is expensive and acidic for some people’s tastes. It works but I think it’s overkill in this scenario and recommend you go with sparkling wine as a perfectly good alternative.

Champagne is a great option for fried chicken because of the high acidity level (the amount of tartness in the beverage). While many wines are too acidic to pair well with fried foods, Champagne does not have such an overpowering sour taste that it will clash with your meal.

Champagnes

If you really do want to splash out then I recommend the following Champagnes, including my own personal favorite.

Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut

The absolute pinnacle of Champagne but you will need deep pockets.

Vineyard notes: “Krug’s Clos du Mesnil plot, with its south-eastern orientation was initially intended to ensure a regular supply of Chardonnay wines to enrich the blend of Krug Grande Cuvée but the savoir-faire of the House of Krug revealed more. Year after year, as the wines from the grapes of this tiny plot were followed and tasted, their character was consistently and uniquely beautiful. Perhaps due to the microclimate the walls created, to the protection of being right in the village, or to the men who built those walls back in 1698 knowing something we do not, the fact remained: The wines of Krug’s Clos du Mesnil stood out, time and again.”

2012 Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut

More attainable, this Bolly is also exceptional.

Award tasting note: “This goes from zero to 60 right out of the gate, with an intense spine of acidity driving tightly meshed flavors of crushed black currant, ground coffee, candied grapefruit peel and toasted almond. The profile expands on the palate, carried by the fine, raw silk–like mousse. Richly aromatic and expressive from start to lasting, spiced finish. Disgorged July 2019. Drink now through 2037. 850 cases imported. —AN” – Wine Spectator Top 100 #10Wine Spectator Top 100

Ruinart (Rosé)

This is my personal favorite. Delicate, fruity, and delightfully light on the palate.  An excellent yet affordable luxury.

Award tasting note: “Youthful, quite fruity style with easy appeal and drinkability.” – BronzeInternational Wine Challenge

However, while Champagne might be perfect for this particular dish, it may not be right for everyone. If you don’t like dry wines or if they give you heartburn when drinking them on an empty stomach (as they often do), then sparkling wine may be a better choice than Champagne or other dry wines that pair well with fried chicken.

I recommend the following sparkling wines:

Cava

Recaredo Turo d’en Mota Cava 

This Cava is produced in the Penedes region of Catalonia, Spain. The wine was awarded a gold medal at the 2011 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, which has been called “the most important competition for sparkling wines in the world.”

Miani Zitelle Cava Sauvignon Blanc Colli Orientali del Friuli

This sparkling wine is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the Friuli region of northeastern Italy. It’s aged for at least 15 months before release and has a fresh, crisp taste with flavors of tropical fruits and citrus.

Llopart Original 1887 Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava 

This Cava was created in 1887 by the Llopart family, who have been making wine for seven generations. It’s made from 100% Macabeo grapes and is aged for at least 12 months before release. The result is a dry, crisp sparkling wine with fruity notes of apple, pear, and banana.

Prosecco

Bottega ‘Gold’ Prosecco Brut

Critic tasting note: “Packaged in what looks like a solid gold bottle, this easy sparkler offers fresh acidity and clean fruit aromas. The gold packaging gives this particular bottle a sassy, luxurious competitive edge.” – 85/100Wine Enthusiast

Bisol Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG

Award tasting note: (2021 vintage) “Melon and pear drop foaming creation with a sweet edge and citrus balance.” – SilverInternational Wine Challenge

Masottina Prosecco di Treviso Brut

Prosecco isn’t generally expensive anyway but this one provides even more value. An absolute bargain given the quality of the wine on offer.

Award tasting note: “Clean, fresh, floral notes with lovely lime and citrus flavors on the palate. – Panel Chair: Clive Barlow MW, Co-Chair: Oz Clarke” – BronzeInternational Wine Challenge

Conclusion

When it comes to fried chicken, white wine is the best pairing by far. Not only are white wines generally lighter and more acidic than reds, but they are also better suited for cutting through the grease of the meat.

In addition to this, the acidity in white wine helps to cleanse your palate between bites so that you can taste all of those delicious flavors at once rather than one at a time (as with reds). This allows you to enjoy every bite while still enjoying other components of your meal like sides or desserts.

My personal favorite is Grüner Veltliner. It has the necessary acidity but still provides some fruit and herb flavor that pairs so well with fried chicken.

Check out Grace Parisi’s Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe if you are planning to make your own. You will struggle to find a better one.

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