Are you in the mood for whipping up a delicious chicken marsala for your guests coming on the weekend? This Italian-American dish is a popular meal and can be served with mashed potatoes, rice, couscous, or pasta.
Most vegetables go well with this creamy dish and if it’s a hot summer’s day, a bowl of fresh green salad makes a wonderful accompaniment to this meal.
But, what wine goes with chicken marsala? Can you serve any kind of vino or should you be selective with your wine when pairing it with this creamy, mushroom chicken made with Marsala wine?
Wine connoisseurs will tell you that every food dish should be paired with the right wine. This way, you can enjoy the flavors and characteristics of both the meal and the drink.
Read on and discover what wines go well with chicken marsala so you can get the best of both worlds – from your food and your wine!
But, before we share our list of wines, we’ll talk about why it’s essential to follow the basics of food and wine pairings. We’ll also discuss the ingredients of the chicken marsala dish so you know what wines should be served with this mouthwatering dish.
What Wine Goes With Chicken Marsala?
The best wines to go with chicken marsala includes robust white wines or light to medium-bodied red wines. Fewer tannins and less acidity is suggested for this type of chicken dish. The list could include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot noir, or Frappato.
Wine connoisseurs recommend pairing the wine with the marsala sauce rather than focusing on the meat. These wines will also work well with most side dishes served with chicken marsala.
Before picking the right wine for your chicken marsala dish, read on to find out everything you need to know about food and wine pairing, and what goes into a chicken marsala recipe.
What You Need to Know About Food and Wine Pairings
If you’re a newbie to wine pairing, you may be wondering what’s all the fuss. Surely, any bottle of wine can be served with any food dish? While you can serve any vino with any dish, you may lose out on the intricate flavors of both the food and wine being served up.
By ensuring you match the food and wine properly, you’ll benefit from balancing the ingredients of the meal with the type of drink being served. Certain foods will enhance the flavors, aroma, and taste of select wines paired correctly with the ingredients of the meal. And, the right wine will let you enjoy the flavors and taste of different foods.
Food and wine pairings can result in:
- Shared flavors being amplified
- A balance achieved between complementary flavors and tastes
The basics of food and wine pairing are really simple and if you can remember these guidelines, then pairing the right wine with your food dish is easy.
Red wines are best paired with bolder food tastes such as steaks, filet, and other red meats. It also goes well with foods containing fat. Red wine is a good choice for congruent pairing when you want to enhance the shared flavors.
White wines should be served with lighter food tastes such as chicken, fish, and seafood. Lighter-bodied wines such as sparking and rose are good for contrasted pairings where the complimentary flavors and tastes are balanced.
Other Basics to Food and Wine Pairings
Wines are most commonly categorized into acidity, sweetness, and bitterness based on the varying degrees of these components. Food tastes are categorized into fattiness, saltiness, and spiciness.
In general, a more acidic wine should always be paired with a food dish. The wine should also be sweeter than the type of dish it’s paired with.
The flavor intensity of the wine should also match the food it’s served with so both the drink and the meal is complimented. Most experts agree that the wine should be matched with the sauce of the dish as this often contains more intense flavors than the actual meat served with it.
What Are the Ingredients of Chicken Marsala?
To decide on the best wine to pair with your dish of chicken marsala, you need to know what ingredients are in this flavorful dish. The common recipe for chicken marsala includes the following:
- Chicken breasts coated in flour and seasonings such as salt and pepper, lightly fried in olive oil.
- A sauce made with mushrooms, garlic, chicken stock, salt and pepper, and marsala wine.
Some chefs like to add asparagus, herbs, thick cream, or shallots to the sauce. Heavy cream works well for balancing out the acidity of the marsala wine, giving a rich and consistent flavor throughout the dish.
Depending on the recipe you follow and the ingredients you include in the sauce, your choice of wine pairing will make a difference to both the flavor of the dish and the drink itself.
What Sides to Serve With Chicken Marsala?
What sides you serve with your chicken marsala dish can also influence the type of wine paired with the meal. However, always try to pair with the sauce of the chicken dish to get the best results. Chicken marsala sides can include any of the following:
- Starches: Rice flavored with parmesan, mashed potatoes with garlic, baked potatoes, or pasta.
- Vegetables: A variety of roast vegetables, spinach with garlic, or steamed asparagus.
- Salads: A green salad with baby tomatoes, cucumber, slices of red onion, celery, olives, and feta cheese.
These side dishes will enhance the flavors of the main dish so pairing your wine with the sauce will also help to balance out the different tastes.
What is Marsala Wine?
The key ingredient to this chicken dish is marsala wine. Marsala wine is a sweet, fortified wine that originates from Sicily, Italy. You may be wondering if you can also serve this wine as a drink to accompany the meal.
This Sicilian wine is most commonly used in recipes to impart an intense nutty and caramelized flavor to the recipe. The typical flavors of marsala wine include brown sugar, apricots, vanilla, and tamarind. Some of the top-end marsala wines include hints of honey, walnut, smoky tobacco, licorice, and dried fruits.
While marsala wines are a popular cooking wine in many kitchens, it can also be enjoyed as a sweet drink similar to Madeira wine or sherry. It’s best served cool, approximately 55 degrees F. Marsala wine pairs well with the following:
- Brussel sprouts
- Salty nuts
- Parmesan cheese
- Chocolate (sweet marsala wine)
Marsala wine is produced with white grape varietals such as Inzolia or Ansonica, Damaschino, and Grillo. You can get sweet and dry marsala wine. While sweet marsala wine is best for adding to dessert recipes, the dry type is most suitable for savory recipes.
How to Pick a Wine for Chicken Marsala?
Wine connoisseurs will recommend pairing a wine to counterbalance the sweetness of the marsala wine in the sauce. But, you don’t want to go with a wine that is too bold or you’ll end up overpowering the distinct flavors of the dish.
A deep red such as a Sangiovese, Cabernet, or Zinfandel will be too much for the chicken. And, you’ll lose the subtle flavors of the marsala sauce.
Food and wine pairing experts suggest picking a robust white wine that is full-bodied and has strong fruity flavors such as citrus, apple, and pear.
Chardonnay is a good choice as well as Chenin Blanc or Viognier. Chardonnay is also a good pairing for foods such as asparagus, garlic, and chicken, all common ingredients of a chicken marsala.
Light or medium-bodied red wines may also be served with chicken marsala. Pinot noir is often served with this dish as is Grenache Gris if you’re able to get this pinkish-grey wine.
Frappato, another light-bodied cherry-colored wine with low tannins, is a popular pairing with chicken marsala.
Gamay wine is a good pick with its light body and fruity flavors of this grape varietal found in the French wine growing region of Beaujolais.
A quick tip:
It should be noted that cooks who have made chicken marsala with dry Riesling rather than marsala wine have found that Pinot noir doesn’t pair well with this sauce.
It’s for this reason, you should always be aware of the ingredients of the sauce before picking the right wine to serve with it.
Here are some good picks when pairing wine with chicken marsala.
Pouilly-fume wine is grown and produced in the Loire Valley, France. It’s made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes and aromas include notes of lime, gooseberry, and green apple as well as smoky flint.
The same fruits are tasted in the flavors including grapefruit and peach. This wine is also well-known for its herbal and grassy flavors and aromas.
This medium-bodied white wine has a high acidic content which is not always a good choice for chicken marsala but somehow it works well! It also pairs well with asparagus, green salads, and most vegetables.
Oaked White Rioja
A Spanish wine, oaked White Rioja is a good accompaniment with chicken marsala. It’s made with the Spanish grape, Tempranillo, and flavors include lime, apple, passion fruit, and peach.
Hints of pepper, currant, grass, and green herbs can also be detected in this wine. The oaked flavors is ideal for the ingredients of this chicken dish.
The Oaked White Rioja type wine is similar to the Chardonnay with a medium body and low acid level. It pairs well with creamy sauces and mushrooms.
Côtes du Rhône (South)
Côtes du Rhône wines grown in the south of France is a red wine made with the Grenache grape. Plum and dark berries make up the main flavors of this wine with hints of licorice, vanilla, anise, and pepper.
A rich, medium-bodied wine with smooth tannins, this drink will compliment your dish of chicken marsala although some foodies will tell you it may be a bit too overpowering.
However, this red wine does pair well with chicken dishes, creamy sauces with mushrooms, and different cheeses such as cheddar and gouda.
The key features of a good wine that goes well with chicken marsala include fewer tannins, low acidity, and a light or medium-body with fruity flavors.
It’s not recommended to drink Marsala wine with this dish but a good Chardonnay or Pinot noir will never disappoint.
Experiment with the different wines suggested in this article such as the Spanish Oaked White Rioja or French Côtes du Rhône red wine. Both pair well with most of the ingredients used to make the delectable chicken marsala dish.
And, if you’re looking for a sparkling wine to for a chicken marsala meal, then try the Moscato wine. This bubbly wine will turn your meal into a celebration!