Best match with fried chicken

At the beginning of last week I read a post about what would be the best food-wine match with fried chicken. A surprising thing to think about, because fried chicken isn't actually a dish I would choose to have a wine with. Apparently it can be done, and believe it or not the suggestion of the post was sparkling wine!

There were some question marks rised for me on this one, so I decided to go and investigate! I went to wine shop Oktober in Breda, the Netherlands and purchased a Cremant d'Alsace. A sparkling wine that was produces through the Methode Traditionelle and aged on its lees. The grapes used are Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. These last two makes sure that the wine has a very creamy texture and enhance the affect of the lees. This should match with the oily, greasy character of the fried chicken.

Because I was not sure that sparkling was the best choice, I brought a very buttery Chardonnay from California to the mix. The idea I had was that the buttery, creamy texture of the wine, would suit better with the mouth feel of the chicken.

The fried chicken consisted of fried chicken legs and chicken fillets. Note that the legs were made just a little spicier than the fillets, so this would lead to a very different palate. In terms of texture the oaky Chardonnay was the best choice with both dishes. But in terms of flavour, the higher level of acidity from the Cremant matched better with the softer tender texture of the fillet, which has a bit of a neutral flavour as well.

The bit more spiced chicken legs had a higher taste level and made the Cremant more acidic, however the oaky Chardonnay made it taste heavenly. The creamy and oily feel of both the wine and the chicken had a beautiful interaction and made the wine feel more full bodied, which is only an enchancement for the flavour of the Californian Chardonnay!

This whole experience teaches me two things. First that the palate of certain dishes still can change, even though they were made somehow similar, and this alters the choice of wine almost immediately.

Second it shows how broadly matchable sparkling wines can be, and that they are so much more than a festive pre dinner drink!

And maybe third of all that Chardonnay shows once again that is such a versitale grape!

Please try this delicious and fun experiment at home.

tasted wines:

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d'Alsace Brut: Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc en Pinot Noir

Bogle Vineyards, Chardonnay California

Both wines are available for purchase at wine shop Oktober:

Wilhelminastraat 52

4818 SH Breda

The Netherlands

Chocolate and wine

The matching of chocolate and wine is not easy or straight forward. Yet it is possible! Through the post below I am more than happy to explain to you how.

We must realize that chocalate, much like wine is very sensitive to the terrior. Meaning that chocolate coming from cocoa beans from Colombia, will be very different to chocolate coming from beans from Madagascar. Even within the same country some beans differ in flavour, leading to an entire different tasting profile. This leads to the conclusion that we do not always have to match chocolate up with a sweet dessert wine.

A little while ago I was invited with Perfri Chocolate & Pastry, with chocolatier Bart de Gans in Meerkerk, The Netherlands. The passion that he bring to the product of chocolate is equally as great as the passion I share for wine. Which is a lot! Never would I have guessed that the cocoa beans would reflect the type of soil that they grow on. So whenever we look at wine matching, we have to assess the amount of cocoa present in the chocolate. The higher the amount, the more bitter the taste wille be and we have to choose wine accordingly to this. We will have to consider the similar flavours, as well as the complememtary ones.

The first piece of chocolate that I tasted was a very dark type with up to 70% of cocoa. A very large amount, which leads to an intense, yet bitter flavour. This is not everyones favourite, it is mine though, because I am able to taste through the bitter dimension and experience notes of roast, which gives a beautiful balance to the bitterness. This type of chocolate contains less sugar and in that way has a beautiful part to play in the complete balance. Quite difficult to match a wine with this. Your typical dessert wines will be way too sweet and will highlight the bitterness of the chocolate. A fresh greenish white on the other hand, will not do the trick either and a very young tannin full red will lead to an overpowering grippy feeling of bitters in our mouths. The wine you want for this chocolate is a red one that hase a sense of character, with some subtle tannins and a beautiful fruit driven palate. A somewhat older Zinfandel from California gives a surprising good result. This grape produces firm, yet fruity wine, without any sharp tannins and an emphasis on sweet baking spices like cinnamon. The older the wine is, the lower the level of tannins and acidity will be.

The second one had a beautiful red fruit character, that comes to show even before the bitters. The chocolate does have 64% cocoa present, but this is almost camouflaged with the red fruit. In terms of wine matching we do not have to look that far. We are looking for a fruit driven red, but with less intensity than the Zinfandel. A Spanish Garnacha with aromas like stewed strawberry, raspberry and pink grapefruit will accentuate the red fruit from the chocolate and will become complete with the chocolate.

When the tasting continues, the amount of cocoa decreases. With the third piece we come more in the range of milky chocolate, with 40% of cocoa. Notes of vanilla and a buttery structure brings me to one of my favourite wine countries of this moment: Greece! Mavrodaphne is a grape that is frequently used for the production of dessert wines. A small amount of residual sugar makes the wine slightly sweet and complements the aromas of dried red fruits perfectly. The sugar leaves an oily layer in the mouth, and has the same affect of the creamy texture of the chocolate.  

For the last piece we had a delicious white chocolate, with a higher amount of sugar. This provides us with beautifully underlined vanilla notes and a milk creamy character. A type of chocolate that goes wonderly well with an all-time classic, which is the Sauternes! The Sauternes with its notes of quince jelly and honey complements the creamy mouthfeel, already present due to the chocolate. Thanks to the high amount of sugar, the wine will not overpower. When you are having a dessert that contains a lot of vanilla, the Sauternes is always the way to go. The more simply made the dessert is, the more the Sauternes will shine!

You can read all about it, due to the diversity of chocolates with their own tasting profile, there is no one-fits-all answer about which wine to be served with chocolate. Every matching needs to be evaluated on its own and can lead to very surprising, yet interesting combinations!