How to Pair Wine and Chicken Piccata

How to Pair Wine and Chicken Piccata

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines


Glass of white wine on a table in a restaurant

A piccata is a traditional Italian dish that can be prepared with any meat or fish. Originally made with veal, a piccata involves dredging the meat in flour, browning it with butter, and serving it covered in a lemony sauce. Piccata dishes are traditionally presented as their own course and often served second after a course of pasta. Currently, many restaurants serve chicken piccata over or with pasta rather than as a separate course.

Most chicken piccata dishes are made with chicken breasts or cutlets, though they can be prepared with any cut of chicken. The piccata sauce always contains lemon juice and often also contains white wine and sauteed garlic or shallots. Topping the dish with lemon slices, capers, and fresh parsley is customary. Some chefs put a spin on piccata by adding olives, artichoke, thinly sliced radish, or other vegetables to accent the dish.

Chicken piccata is growing in popularity, both in restaurants and as a home dinner option. As a result, many people are curious about which chicken piccata wine pairings they should try. A few quick tips can help you easily identify what types to enjoy with the dish.

Tips for Pairing Wine and Chicken Piccata

Recognizing the dominant flavors in chicken piccata will help you find the best wine pairings for this dish. Browned butter gives piccata a rich, buttery flavor. Lemon balances this richness with tartness and acidity. Capers add a briny, salty element. The addition of garlic can bring a hint of heat, and fresh parsley adds texture and an herbal flavor. Together, these flavors combine to create a complex profile that opens up many options for complementary wine pairings.

Here are a few general points to keep in mind when choosing chicken piccata wine pairings:

  • Higher acidity wines pair well with high acid and salt dishes such as piccata.
  • If there's a white wine in the sauce, it's likely a good wine to serve with the dish.
  • Not all white wines pair well with all chicken dishes, despite what some people claim.
  • Sweet wines generally do not pair as well with tart or highly acidic dishes.

Wine and Chicken Piccata Pairings

There are many wines that pair well with chicken piccata. Of course, the best wine to pair with this or any dish is the wine that tastes best to you. Experiment to determine which wines you prefer with chicken piccata by starting with some likely candidates: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Rosé.

Chardonnay

Creamy Chardonnay is delicious when paired with a creamy piccata sauce. This medium-bodied, medium-acidity wine perfectly complements the richness and acidity of piccata. Chardonnay often comes with hints of lemon or other citrus flavors which help cut through the buttery flavor of the dish while matching the lemon in the sauce.

Try to avoid oaked or overly buttery Chardonnays when pairing them with chicken piccata. Although a hint of butter in your Chardonnay works well, too much butteriness can become overpowering due to the butter used to prepare the chicken. Unoaked Chardonnays are your best bet. They are crisper and leaner and will help round out your meal rather than overshadow it.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a very popular and versatile white wine known for its fruity and herbal notes. As a high-acidity wine, Sauvignon Blanc matches the high acid levels found in chicken piccata's lemon sauce. Generally, high-acidity foods and wines pair well together. Conversely, a high-acidity food can make a low-acidity wine seem nearly flavorless, so low-acidity wines should be avoided with chicken piccata.

Choose a Sauvignon Blanc with bright citrus flavors, which will match and draw out the lemon in the piccata sauce. A Sauvignon Blanc with stronger herbal notes will highlight the herbal flavors of fresh parsley. Sauvignon Blanc is known for pairing well with green herbs and vegetables, so it's an especially good pairing when the piccata is garnished more than usual.

Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc is another crisp white wine with citrus notes to complement the lemony piccata sauce. Pinot Blancs often hail from Northern Italy, the original home of the piccata dish. The medium acidity level of the Pinot Blanc counters the high acidity of the lemon sauce well. Many Pinot Blancs even have lemon zest notes specifically, which make for an even better pairing.

Pinot Blanc tends to be lighter than the other wines recommended here, but there are medium and full-bodied options available. The fuller Pinot Blancs will better complement the complex, full flavors normally found in chicken piccata.

Rosé

If you don't want to pair your chicken piccata with a white wine, opt for a dry rosé. This blush wine can be a surprisingly tasty pairing if you select your bottle carefully. Although dry rosés still tend to be fruity, they often contain herbaceous and slightly bitter notes that complement the parsley in piccata.

A medium or full-bodied rosé works best with a rich piccata sauce. Traditionally dry rosés such as Grenache, Sangiovese, and Mourvedre are options to try. If you're in the U.S., stay away from the popular ultra-sweet dessert rosés such as White Zinfandel and Pink Moscato. These rosés will detract from rather than complement the complex flavors in your chicken piccata.

As you search for your favorite wines to pair with chicken piccata, please check out the wide variety of wine offerings at JJ Buckley Fine Wines. We sell wines of all vintages and from all regions of the world, allowing us to meet all of your pairing needs.

JJ Buckley Fine Wines also offers consultancy services to ensure our customers find the perfect wines to pair with meals, whether those meals are being served at large events or small family dinners. Contact us to receive a personalized wine consultation. Our wine experts will help you find the perfect wines to pair with your meals, whether you're making chicken piccata, or any other dish!