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Food & Wine Pairing - Poultry

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine...

Wine and Poultry is a glorious combination...

Pairing Wine with Poultry

Chicken and poultry pair well with both red and white wines, giving you more variety in your choices. With white wines, try to match the intensity of the wine with the intensity of the dish. For instance, when you have white meats with green herbs, Sauvignon Blanc from Australia, California, Chile, Italy or Washington state work well. Poached and other delicately prepared white meats, like paté, go best with wines like Chenin Blanc.

Even though white wines go well with white meats, darker chicken and poultry go well with light aromatic and medium-bodied red wines. When you flavor chicken and poultry with a soy-based sauce like teriyaki, pair it with Schiava. Many people enjoy Zinfandel with turkey. Other types of poultry also have classic pairings. Most people automatically pair Pinot Noir with dishes that contain duck. If you serve a cold dish like chicken salad or turkey sandwiches, look to Brachetto.

Big reds, well huge young reds like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon Blends are delicious with chicken wings that have been thrown the BBQ and cooked until their skins are charred and smokey; and the same with a spicy tomato dip.

Oaky Chardonnay or a rich Sémillon is good with char-grilled chicken which have been well marinated in olive oil, white wine and lashings of garlic and chilli.

A classic roast chicken accompanied by a simple gravy enriched by butter juices is delicious with both red and white wines. The Chardonnay would add flavour and complexity, the Burgundy, depending on the style, might add a leaner flavour with more minerality.

Choose gently oaked Chardonnays or white Burgundys with a buttery texture from cooler climate regions, like Western Australia, Chile – Rapel Valley regions, or fruity softly oaked Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Blends. Chicken roasted with lashings of garlic and with a herby stuffing is better flattered by a richer Chardonnay. Or maybe serve with a Shiraz or Shiraz Blend.

Fried chicken is a very heavy dish which will respond best to the counterpoint of a lean Sauvignon Blanc to help cleanse the palate and refresh the diner to get them ready for the next mouthfull.

A Chardonnay would also work, but might not be as refreshing. For something light and simple why not try a Vinho Verde or a light semi-sparkler.

The full flavours of a cream sauce will need a full flavoured wine to keep up with them. Chardonnay, Unoaked or lightly Oaked with good acidity, is just the ticket. Add an onion to the sauce, throw a bit of pastry on top, and that chicken pie will be tasty with the same wines, or with a Semillon Chardonnay or Colombard Blend.

Picture a rich, spicy chicken dish. Perhaps a chicken breast rolled up with rich, smokey Gouda cheese with spice on the inside. What wine would you choose? The answer is a Cabernet Sauvignon….to our suprise, you would never have thought so.

Match the smokey taste of the chicken with a smokey oak and gentle fruit of a Chardonnay or Sémillon Chardonnay blend. A Rosé would go well with a warm smoked chicken and walnut salad.

Chicken in a white wine sauce is quite mild in flavour. Choose a light, young wine, of the latest vintage, such as an Unoaked Sémillon or Sémillon Chardonnay blend.

Infuse the sauce with fresh herbs, and an aromatic Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc Blend works well. Add a dash of cream and a lightly, Oaked Chardonnay is the answer.

A simple tomato and herb, will go well with a light Unoaked Chardonnay, or Chardonnay blended with a zesty Sauvignon Blanc.

If enriched with extra stock and chorizo and perhaps bacon for extra oomph !!, a fruity young Shiraz or Merlot will work well here.

This is rich and fatty, pure indulgence, with powerful flavours. Try a full – flavoured but not overly tannic Grenache or Shiraz Blend. For a memorable feast, copy the old fashioned gentlemen’s club and serve with a cool sweet Botrytis wine.

Roast turkey is flattered by many fine reds, particularly Pinot Noir, ripe Shiraz and cool – climate Cabernet Sauvignon. These can all survive the stuffing !!

A well structured, lightly Oaked Chardonnay is a good white choice. For a memorable roast turkey, serve with lashings of cranberry sauce, choose a Sparkling Shiraz.

Go from a humble poultry lover to a verified poultry connoisseur.

A Guide to Different Cuts of Poultry

The most commonly used types of chicken are:

  • WOG: This is basically the whole bird without the head.  It includes whole breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings
  • Tenders: These are little bits of tender meat under each chicken breast. 
  • Thigh: Chicken thigh is just above the knee joint. It can be bought with the bone and skin or boneless and skinless. Many consider the thigh as the best and tastiest part of the bird.
  • Drumstick: The portion between the knee joint and hock or the lower part of leg quarter is called drumstick; it does not include the thigh.
  • Whole Wings: This is one of the most popular parts of the chicken. Whole wing includes drumette (the portion of white meat between shoulder and elbow), mid-section and tip. 
  • Breast: Chicken breast is the part attached to the breast.  It is definitely one of the most popular cuts of chicken as it is a rich source of protein and low on fat. 
  • Legs: Chicken leg is drumstick –thigh together.  It’s the whole leg and the cut starts at the hip joint. 

Whole chicken can be used for making chicken stock. You would roast or poach the chicken with vegetables and could then use the cooked meat for sandwiches and salads.

Alternatively, you could flatten the chicken. This is a great way to barbecue a whole chicken, finishing it off in a closed barbecue to cook through.

Tenderloins are a good option too. They are slightly more tender than the whole breast and are great crumbed and baked, or quickly chargrilled and tossed in a hot salad.

Buy as single chicken breasts fillets without the skin, with tenderloin attached, or with skin on. A supreme cut is the chicken breast with wingette attached and skin on.

Thighs can be bought as thigh fillets with skin and bone removed, or thigh cutlets, with bone and skin still attached. Chicken thigh meat is brown and has a little more fat then the breast, but also slightly more flavour.

Thigh fillets are great sliced or chopped in stir-fries, or in casseroles. Use the thigh cutlet in casseroles or bakes.

Chicken Maryland is the thigh with the drumstick attached. Maryland is great for roasting and baking and can also be used on the barbeque or char-grill.
Wings and Drumsticks are usually cheaper cuts of chicken. They are great baked in a sticky glaze or marinade and eaten in your fingers.
Chicken Breast must be the most versatile meat.  It is a white meat with very little fat and it is the perfect cut to slice up in stir-fries, marinate and grill, pan-fry or oven roast, filled with your favourite filling. Chicken breasts can also be baked or poached and used in salad, sandwiches or shredded and put into soups.

Mince can be used for rissoles, burgers, meatballs, or cooked in a Vietnamese larb salad. You can use chicken mince instead of beef mince in tacos or enchiladas.

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