As always, when pairing wine with chicken, you want to consider the sauce or the marinade. Here, five approaches to take this summer when choosing wines to serve with grilled chicken.
With simple marinades. Simply seasoned grilled chicken is one of the most versatile foods and pairs well with a range of wines. (Have a special bottle you want to open? Make grilled chicken!) Because of the char and smoky flavors that infuse the meat, you can go for wines that have seen some new oak, including Chardonnays and some California Pinot Noirs. If the chicken is rubbed with lots of herbs—like rosemary and thyme—rosé or lightly chilled, juicy Spanish Garnacha is a good bet.
With barbecue sauce. If your chicken is brushed with a sticky barbecue sauce, go for fruity, low-tannin reds, like Zinfandel or Primitivo (Italy’s version of Zinfandel). These wines have deep berry flavors and an almost sweet fruit quality that’s great with these sauces. If you tend to lean toward white wines, try a California rose, which also tends to have ripe, almost sweet fruit but enough body for this style of chicken.