Pairing Piccata: My Suspect Advice - Lightly Toasted: Chronicles of the Friday Night Cocktail Club Blog at - 278002

Lightly Toasted: Chronicles of the Friday Night Cocktail Club

pairing piccata: my suspect advice 
Jun. 22, 2012 5:01 pm 
Updated: Jun. 24, 2012 6:01 pm
I’m not sure I can completely recommend my own suggestion here. It’s true, I am not always a reliable source, though my intentions are honest.  See, this one was an accidental success. For Chef John’s Chicken Piccata, a tangy chicken dish with dominant flavors coming from lemon juice and capers, I was reaching for a fresh, lively, high-acid, dry white wine (sauvignon blanc). But unfortunately what I was reaching for was warm because I’d forgotten to stick it in the fridge.

Now, normally, this can be remedied in about 15 minutes with a bucket of well-salted ice water. But dinner was on the table. The only white I had in the fridge was Riesling. Now Riesling, of course, also covers the categories "fresh, lively, and high-acid," but my bottle was a little too sweet for this dish. So I grabbed for the half-gone bottle of Chianti Classico lurking behind it on the table. And this particular Chianti was actually a beautiful partner for the chicken and tangy sauce.

The Chianti was dry and had vats of acid, so the lemon juice didn’t make it seem flabby and weak. Your results may vary. The style of this Chianti was light and true to its nature. (Drinking this wine later without food, I could really get a sense of how sharp it was. With the food, though, it was just right.)  Often you find sangiovese-based wines that are a bit bigger and richer and of a more modern style, and a Chianti/sangiovese like that probably would not have worked here. At any rate, the fact that different bottles of the same type of wine can vary considerably in taste and style is just one additional element that makes pairing not always so easy. So I don’t usually sweat it too much. If it’s perfect, perfect; if it’s strictly average—hey, I’m still sitting here drinking a glass of wine, I'm not working in the salt mines, so how bad can it be? This pairing, though, does illustrate something else: matching place with place; in this case, an Italian chicken dish with an Italian wine. When in doubt, that’s a good place to start. 
chef john's chicken piccata.
Photo Detail
Jun. 22, 2012 5:42 pm
I'm making veal marsala for a special night with the hubby... Gotta suggested wine for me? Love your blog!
Jun. 22, 2012 8:09 pm
love reading your blogs lorem. always informative! :-)
Jun. 24, 2012 11:04 am
Thanks for the comments! I'm a couple days too late to answer the veal marsala question, but I'd probably do the chianti classico again. Or maybe a Sicilian red wine -- b/c of the marsala. I'd keep it Italian.
Jun. 24, 2012 1:46 pm
I had seafood instead... Having the veal tomorrow night! Glad I waited! Thanks soooo much!
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About Me
My wife and I and our two devilish kittens live on Capitol Hill in Seattle. A few years ago, I got a masters in gastronomy. I'm a food/wine writer. I’m also blogging about cocktails.
My favorite things to cook
We cook fairly simple dishes using fresh local ingredients that we pick up at the Seattle farmers market. My favorite thing is making a nice slow-braised or long-roasted something on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I like cooking with wine (in the dish and in the glass...and in the cook).
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom never liked to cook, but she did well despite herself. Her mother, my omi, was from Munich and made delicious rouladen, sauerbraten and other traditional German and American dishes. Always bins and bins of home-baked cookies at Christmas. Wonderful rye bread. And beer. Opa would say, "Brotzeit ist die beste zeit."
My cooking triumphs
We’ve made the signature timpano dish from The Big Night a couple times. And for Thanksgiving 2007, we made Turducken. My wife and I are always volunteering to cook the big holiday meals with the family. We mix a signature cocktail, and get down to it.
My cooking tragedies
I made Thanksgiving Dinner for myself once when I was snowed-in in Denver. I nearly burned down the neighborhood.
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