Roast Chicken Pairing: Viognier or Pinot Noir?
Viognier Exploration #3: Wine Pairing with Roast Chicken
Our next Viognier experiment will test two very nice wines with a locally sourced roast chicken dinner. For roast chicken, I would often pick out a nice Pinot Noir. If I’m really open, would a Viognier be a better match?
Going Local in Late Fall
All summer long, we enjoy making our meals from local ingredients as much as possible. As we get into the colder weather, locally sourced meals become more challenging. It took a bit a work, but we succeeded. Local sustainably raised chicken from Kadejan Farms, acorn squash, onions, carrots, apples and native wild rice from the farmers market, and a few herbs from our garden which survived our first few frosts. Even the sunflower oil is from Wisconsin.
Meal preparation details will follow at the bottom; let’s get right into the test for our two wines. Herb and apple stuffed roast chicken with pan gravy, roasted acorn squash, and wild rice. Earthy flavors dominate the meal.
Peay Estate Viognier 2011 ($40 winery by mail)
Eye: Bright clear yellow, rich color
Nose: Rich & floral, a bit like honey, except it isn’t sweet at all. Perhaps a touch of oak, but it seems appropriate and well integrated.
Mouth: Rich, creamy, a hint of oak, but not oaky. Nice acidity, but not even close to tart.
Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009 ($52 locally)
Eye: Medium dark purplish red, translucent throughout.
Nose: Herbs, eucalyptus in front of the red fruit. A little bit of musty basement in a good way. Very interesting!
Mouth: Medium density mouthfeel, seems lower in acidity, not tart at all. A bit of tannin in the finish. Lively.
With all the earthy flavors, I expected to prefer the Pinot Noir. The Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was lovely, and the fact that other non-cherry/strawberry aromas were prominent made the wine go very well with the meal. However, the Peay Estate Viognier just seemed to reflect the texture and flavors of the food even better. If you just want to drink red, by all means, go with a nice cool climate Pinot Noir like the Flowers. However, if you want to try a better match, give Viognier a try!
Meal Preparation Details
Slipping a paste of herbs between the meat and the skin of a bird will infuse a delicate herbal flavor into the meat. I start with a healthy fistful of herbs, from the garden if possible (dwindling by the day in Minnesota). Chop the herbs and mix in just a bit of oil – sunflower oil from Wisconsin here. I use just enough oil to coat the herbs. Then, stuff the herb mixture between the chicken meat and the skin.
I like to roast fowl over a bed of celery, onions and carrots. Staying local, I skipped the celery and just used the onions and carrots. Normally, I’d stuff the cavity with slices of lemon, but we don’t grow very many lemons in Minnesota. Apples provide plenty of moisture and fill the local bill nicely. Truss up the bird and roast at 425 F for 90 minutes.
Acorn squash is as easy as can be. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds. I like to add about 1 teaspoon of (local) maple syrup into the cavity of each half. 1 acorn squash is perfect to serve two as a side dish. At the same 425F oven temperature, I roast the squash for about 40 minutes.
Native Wild Rice
I purchased my wild rice from Northern Lakes Wild Rice at the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis. This is real wild rice, harvested by hand. You may notice this wild rice is lighter in color than commercially grown “wild” rice. The texture and flavor are really superior in the truly wild product. If you have never tried it, you should search some out. Northern Lakes even offers Light Wild Rice, which is just rice from a lake that produces a particularly light in color rice with its own unique flavor. They don’t have it every year, as the lakes which produce it are very remote and no one likes to go harvest the rice! The rice is easy to cook, very similar to long grain rice, taking about 30 minutes of simmering on the stove to hydrate fully.
Do you have any favorite food pairings for Viognier? How about favorite Viogniers? I’m working on picking up a sample from Virginia. Any other “must haves”?