Friday, June 11, 2010
"C" is for Chicken Wings and Wine
Chicken wings and beer are natural partners. But what if you love wings and dislike beer? Or what if you simply feel like having a glass of wine with your wings? As much as I love having a bottle of beer on a hot sunny day (a bottle rather than a glass) or after working out at the gym, I find it filling and bloating. I dislike the idea of being bloated because of a beverage. If choosing to be bloated, I prefer this to be a result of too many French fries or chicken wings!
It also might seem rather frivolous to serve a quality vintage with something as casual as chicken wings? This may be true. However, there are plenty of delicious wines that fall into the ‘casual’ category. What makes a wine casual? Foremost it is the price. Casual wines, at least from my perspective, cost under $12.00 per bottle. Casual wines are also easy drinking, tasty but unsophisticated and drinkable today. Drinkable today means the wines are not complex and therefore will not benefit from time in your wine cellar.
Keeping price in mind, rose and blush are the best wine styles for chicken wings. Both offer good acidity that cuts through the greasiness of deep fried finger foods and a hint of sweetness that pairs well with most wing sauces. Honey-garlic, barbecue, sweet and sour, mango spice and other sauces contain some sweetness that pairs well with the sweetness in an off-dry rose or blush. When it comes to suicide or any hot and spicy versions made from hot peppers, the heat on one’s palate is subdued by both the sweetness and sourness (acidity) in the wine. So, we can refresh our palate with a rose or blush between delicious bites of chicken wings.
What is the difference between blush and rose wines? Rose is a traditional wine style. In the early 80’s, however, savvy winemakers started a new wine style called “blush” or Blanc de Noir. Blush wines were generally paler than roses. While some still exist, roses, like other legitimate wines, have never gone out of fashion. Rose and Blanc de Noir can be made with or without skin contact during the fermentation. The grapes may be crushed, leaving a bit of pigment in the juice, before the skins are separated and fermented. The grape skins can also be fermented with the juice for a short period, such as for eight hours to two days. The amount of time the skins remain in contact with the juice will determine the depth of colour in the blush or rose.
Chilling roses and blush wines makes them ideal for hot, spicy chicken wings. Even if you’re not a big fan of off-dry wines, you might still consider trying this combination. There are wines that shine when served alone and others that act as the perfect partner in food and wine pairing. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a lovely looking and refreshing rose!