Ask a Sommelier: The Best Wine for Roast Chicken

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Every once in a while, a simple roast chicken at home just hits the spot. Want to make the meal even better? Serve your perfect bird with a great bottle of wine. We asked our sommelier friends for a few tips on the best bottles to open when you're serving roast chicken. Here are their recommendations.

Joe Camper of DB Bistro Moderne in NYC.

"There are two rules I learned very early on in my wine career that still hold true: 1) Grüner Veltliner pairs with all things green and 2) Burgundy pairs with birds...All birds."—Joe Camper (DB Bistro Moderne)

"I tend to drink Syrah with roast chicken. I think many people automatically opt for Pinot Noir, for its light bodied characteristics. But I find that roasted chicken takes on a deep, hearty flavor profile that is perfect for a darker, richer wine."—Caroline Styne (Lucques)

"I like a funky white wine with some age for roast chicken. Domaine aux Moines Savennieres from Roche aux Moines from late '90s or early '00s is my perfect pairing. Roast chicken, while usually a very simple preparation, always has very deep and complex flavors, and I look for savory characteristics in a wine to go with the umami flavors or chicken skin and dark meat."—Cara Patricia (Bright Wine Fund and Saison)

"More unusual but superb with the chicken if served with root vegetables, squash and more earthy flavors is Amontillado sherry. Adventurous!"—Edouard Bourgeois (Café Boulud)

Roberto Paris of il Buco in NYC.

"I'd recommend a Pinot Noir. My personal favorites are from Burgundy in France; they have structure and acidity without too much alcohol, fruit, or tannins that could overpower the meat. Pinots from Oregon, New Zealand, Germany, or Northern Italy would also work. If the roast chicken is made with herbs and spices, I would go for a basic, Grenache-based Cotes du Rhone."—Roberto Paris (il Buco and il Buco Alimentari)

"Cru Beaujolais. Chicken is not complicated—you can make it fancy, but it's still chicken. It's delicious and straightforward. Same with Cru Beaujolais. I think of the vegetables that I would most likely throw in with a roasted chicken—potatoes, carrots, onions, maybe fennel...herbs etc. and those flavors all work with Beaujolais. Some of my favorites are from Pascal Granger, Clos de Roilette, Jean Marc Burgaud, and Foillard."—Jill Zimorski (formerly of Hotel Jerome)

"In general, light to medium bodied reds with higher acid, and particularly red burgundy (such as Maranges or Marsannay), Gamay and Barbera. The acid levels are great with the fatty elements in the chicken while the earthy character of the wines tend to play well with herbs and other seasonings. These wines have bright red fruit, complexity, and a refreshing quality that won't overpower subtle flavors in the dish."—Andres Loaiza (Aria)

Pascaline Lepeltier of Rouge Tomate in NYC.

"A rich, unctuous, slightly oxidative Chardonnay from the Jura, or even Burgundy—the flesh melts with the wines, the hint of caramel is superb with the crispy skin. Another great pairing is with an aged rose of Provence—if you could get your hand on some Simone rose, or Bandol rose with some bottle aging..."—Pascaline Lepeltier (Rouge Tomate)

"I tend to lean on rich Smaragd Gruner Veltliner from Austria for roast chicken. The weight and texture match up really well with chicken and all of the usual accompaniments. Gruner also tends to be very forgiving of different spice and seasoning treatments."—Matthew Carroll (BRABO)

"White Burgundy, every time. Nothing crazy, no Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. A nice village-level Pernand-Vergelesses is more in the spirit of what roast chicken is all about; pure comfort food joy. I use a lot of lemon and thyme when I make roast chicken, too, and the linear acidity and slight umami richness of Burgundian Chardonnay performs the perfect balancing act with all of that delicious, herb-infused chicken fat."—Lauren Friel (Oleana)

"For roast chicken, I want something middle weight, moderate in alcohol, with a fair amount of acid, very little oak, if any. Depending on how the chicken is sauced, it might skew my selection, but in general that's what I'm looking for. Where it comes from is sort of neither here nor there, but I do find myself reaching for a fancy ("cru") Beaujolais a lot of the time. Those wines are practically a part of my food pyramid. The funky whites of the Jura also can make wonderful partners for chicken, especially if there are a few mushrooms around. Montbourgeau, Macle, and J.F. Ganevat do pretty awesome work."—Morgan Harris (Corkbuzz)

Carlin Karr of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado.

"I make roast chicken all of the time. A number of wines are great with roast chicken depending on what it is being served with, but I must say my 'go-to' is great white Burgundy. I like something with some richness but also racy acidity, like Meursault. I wish I had enough Roulot Meursault on hand for all of my chicken dinners, but I often turn to 2010 Michel Bouzereau Meursault "Tesson" and it makes for a lovely pairing."—Carlin Karr (Frasca)

For me, it's Barolo, the most grand expression of Nebbiolo from Italy's northwest region of Piedmont. A really simple roast chicken, served with sauteed or roasted mushrooms and root vegetables are exactly what I think of when I look to the colder months."—Thomas Pastuszak (The NoMad)

"Nothing much better in life then enjoying a fresh bottle of Foillard Morgon Cote du Py with roast chicken. These wines are so fresh and bright you can't help but want another bite of chicken after each sip."—Eric Railsback (Les Marchands)

"I love roast chicken, and there are so many wines that could pair well with it depending on how I choose to season it, what I serve it with, if I decide to make a sauce, what kind of sauce, and finally, the weather. I am more inclined to choose an unoaked Chardonnay when the weather is warm and when I season the chicken with lots of olive oil and lemon. Take the same roasted chicken and make a creamy gravy with the pan juices and a lightly oaked Chardonnay is a treat. If the weather is cool, and I season the chicken with olive oil and fresh rosemary, I would choose one of my favorite lighter reds: Counoise produced in Oregon. Counoise is one of the blending grapes used in the Southern Rhone. It is light, low in tannin, lightly pigmented like Pinot Noir but with lush fruit, good acidity, sweet spice and a hint of pepper."—Maxine Borcherding (Oregon Culinary Institute)