By Laura Burgess
Milk and cookies. Pizza and beer. Wine and days that end in “Y.” Some things just go together, and—though less well known than some iconic combos—fried chicken and Champagne is a match made in heaven. In fact, it’s one of the few food and wine pairing combinations that works all the time, every time because the components in the food and wine perfectly contrast one another in a mix that makes a second bite (and third bottle) an easy conclusion.
Fried chicken, in its crispy glory, brings a fatty and salty element to the table whether its served picnic-style and chilled or steaming hot. Champagne, by contrast, contributes carbonation and acidity, which counteract both grease and salinity on the palate. So, when enjoyed together, you get all the delicious flavor of the chicken, and the wine acts like a sponge across the palate—removing any lingering grease salinity from the chicken...scientifically prepping you for the next bite. The toasty, yeasty notes many Champagnes have as the result of extended aging accent the crispy breading on fried chicken.
Other sparkling wines, including Franciacorta, Cava, and Prosecco are also excellent choices, especially with spicy renditions of this dish. These wines tend to have a touch of sweetness, which eliminates the spicy burn hot sauces and black pepper can contribute.
For fans of still wines, Chardonnays from around the world are an excellent match. Creamy and rich, they match the weight of fried chicken on the palate while their inherent acidity cleanses the palate bite after bite. Look for bottlings with no or low oak for the best match.