It’s All In The Sauce – Cooking and Pairing Food with Chardonnay

What are the best chicken dishes to serve with Chardonnay?

A successful food and wine match depends on fundamental food pairing guidelines, shared by Sommelier/Author/Educator John Laloganes in his book, The Essentials of Wine with Food Pairing Techniques. Consider the following:

  • Mirror Wine & Food Flavors. Pairing wine and food with similar flavor components will also make your palate sing!  For example, a wine with prominent smoky, meaty notes will pair well with complimentary food flavors.  Keep in mind that maintaining a similar weight between the food and wine is still important.
  • Weight. Pair a similar weight, texture and intensity of both wine and food so neither overpowers the other.  A heavier, richer dish will typically pair well with a fuller-bodied, robust wine and a lighter dish will similarly pair well with a lighter-bodied wine.  In contrast, if you drink Shiraz with your sushi dinner the wine will overpower the food, just as an Italian Pinot Grigio will get lost if paired with a spicy sausage and penne pasta dish.
  • Sauce. Don’t limit yourself to the belief that “white goes with fish” and “red goes with meat”.  Consider a sauce’s flavor and body, as it can have an impact on your selection.
  • Acidity. Acidity, a critical component in wine’s structure, acts as flavor enhancer and causes salivation.  It also helps cleanse the palate after a rich bite of food.

The wine’s structural components play a big factor in the pairing process. Look for information about oak aging and fermentation, specifically malolactic fermentation, that will allow you to understand how the aromas and flavor, body and acid will impact the mouthfeel.

Chardonnay is also a great wine to use as an ingredient in cooking. The following sauce recipes courtesy of Chef/Educator Wook Kang, were created by using them as both ingredients and pairings for an oaked and unoaked Chardonnay. 

Lemon Beurre Blanc

For the sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. Shallot, brunoise
  • 4 oz. White wine
  • 1 Sprig Fresh thyme
  • 2 oz. Cream
  • 1 oz. Lemon juice
  • 6 oz. Butter, cold and cubed
  • Salt to taste
  • 4-6 chicken breast cutlets sautéed
  1. Using the small pot, add shallots, wine and fresh thyme.
  2. Reduce until there is about 1-ounce liquid remaining.
  3. Add cream and reduce until nappé.
  4. Off the heat, add the butter one piece at a time and swirl until incorporated.
  5. Strain the sauce and adjust seasoning.
  6. Serve with sautéed chicken.

Poulet Sauté/Bacon Tomato Ragout

  • 2 each Legs, thighs skin on
  • 1 ½ oz. Olive oil for browning
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. Shallots, chopped
  • 2 oz. Bacon, lardons
  • 5 oz. Button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 oz. Cognac
  • 2 oz. White wine
  • 12 oz. Demi Glace
  • 1 Tbsp.Tomato concassé
  • ½ tsp. Tarragon, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 oz. Whole butter cold
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a sauté pan, brown the chicken thighs and legs skin side down in the clarified butter, do not burn.
  2. When the chicken is well browned, remove it from the pan and place it in on a rack in an 375°F oven to finish cooking.
  3. Remove excess fat from the sauté pan and, leaving a little to sauté the bacon and mushrooms.
  4. Reheat the pan and sauté the bacon and sliced mushrooms, after 2 minutes sprinkle the shallots and sauté for a couple of seconds longer.
  5. Remove excess fat, remove the pan from the heat and add the Cognac. Return the pan to the heat and flamber the Cognac.
  6. When the flames have died, add the white wine and reduce it by one half.
  7. Add the demi glace to the mushroom mixture and reduce for a few minutes.
  8. Add the tomato concassé.
  9. Reduce the sauce until nappé swirl in the butter (monter au beurre).

Note:  Ensure that the sauce is of the proper consistency prior to monter au beurre. It is extremely important to have the butter cold and the pan off the heat when swirling the butter to “monter au beurre”. Once the butter has been added the sauce cannot be reduced further or the addition of butter will break.

  1. Add the chopped tarragon and parsley to the sauce.
  2. Adjust the seasoning and keep the sauce warm for service

Learn more about Chef/Educator Wook Kang and Sommelier/author/Educator John Laloganes by watching the SIP Virtual Wine Tasting and Education Series episode discussing Oaked and Unoaked Chardonnay and food pairings.

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