This is one of my most favorite, easy, and low-cost pairings to suggest to friends. And I don't know if its just me, but lately I've been finding a ton of lemon chicken dishes on pinterest. And I've pinned them all...why wouldn't I? Most recipes are usually quick and easy--add a squeeze of lemon to whatever you're making--and voila! Done! And lemons are accessible, chicken is cheap, so lemon+chicken recipes make for great weeknight dinners I've been seeming to make a lot lately.
Pair Chardonnay with any lemon chicken dish, my friends. Chardonnay is my go-to for anything lemon-flavored, actually. Why? Because one of the top flavor and aroma descriptors us wine geeks use to describe Chardonnay is lemon. Unless a Chardonnay has been completely over-oaked (meaning it has gone through malolactic fermentation and sat in a barrel made of brand new oak for a long long time), it should have citrus/lemon flavors and aromas present. The good news is that most wine producers have gotten away from the big, buttery, oaky chardonnays we all love to hate, so if you are trying a new chardonnay, it more than likely will go with this dish.
Now for your wine pairing lesson of the day...so I don't want to get too nerdy here, but the technical reason why chardonnay goes so well with lemon dishes is because it has high acidity, just like lemons. Just what is acidity? If you suck on a lemon (which I don't suggest actually doing), the sourness you feel in the side of your mouth that makes your mouth water is acidity. Some foods are really high in acid, others not. But regardless, food and wine with high acidity make your taste buds salivate, so the two pair really well together.
Now, there are other grapes that have high acidity that could also potentially go well with this dish (see below under "Pairing Suggestions"), but none quite have the body like chardonnay to stand up to a chicken dish that might be a bit heavier. Body is equivalent to the weight of the wine--chardonnays are usually medium to full-bodied, so they are the absolute best match.
- Californian (just stay away from big oaky, buttery examples like Rombauer. Try something from Sonoma Coast to be safe)
- Oregon--some incredible chardonnays are coming out of Willamette Valley right now, like Domaine Drouhin's "Arthur" chardonnay
- White Burgundy
- Chablis--this unoaked example of chardonnay will give you the highest acidity, best for super lemony dishes!
- Sauvignon Blanc
- best with a grilled lemon chicken dish, not this one I used for this blog post
- if you want to go down this route, make sure you're picking a completely dry example of riesling, nothing sweet
- Belgian Wit
- German Hefeweizen
- American Lager
My Favorite Lemon Chicken Recipes
Here are a few of my favorite lemon chicken recipes:
Slow-Cooker Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken via No. 2 Pencil
Baked Honey Lemon Chicken via the Cooking Jar (recipe used for the pictures in this post)
Lemon Butter Chicken via Damn Delicious
One Pot Greek Chicken and Lemon Rice via Recipe Tin Eats