I’ve pretty much always loved wine as long as I could drink. But I also really enjoyed beer, cocktails, hard cider, etc. Ever since I gave birth to Max, I really stick mostly with wine. I sip a beer occasionally and I revert back to the old days with a dirty martini once in a blue moon. But my trusty friend is a delightful glass of chilled white wine.
My tastes have also changed over time. In my early twenties, I preferred white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. In my late twenties and early thirties, I moved more toward red wines like Pinot Noir and Malbec. I was never much into Merlot. When I started dating my husband in 2014, I shifted back to the white wines. Being from Austria, he likes the lighter, sweet wines.
What does all of this have to do with wings? Well, I went out to dinner on Thursday night with my friend, Beth. We went to Beachland Tavern in West Hartford, CT. If you’re ever in the area, check them out. It’s an unassuming eatery in a strip mall. The food is spectacular and the atmosphere is laid back. They have these amazing smoked kitchen sink chicken wings. The sauce is kind of a combination of all their different sauces and comes with this insane housemade gorgonzola sauce. I knew before I even got there that I would be ordering the wings and I even offered to place an additional order to bring home for my husband for lunch the next day.
My dilemma began when we sat down and prepared to order our drinks. One iced water for me, of course. But it was Thursday and I wanted a glass of wine. What would pair well with smoky and slightly spicy wings? I knew I didn’t want anything to oaky. I just didn’t think the “oak and smoke” would make a good combination. Looking through their wine menu, I knew I would want something fruity to offset the savory flavors. I also didn’t want anything too dry. They had a Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. I knew a red wine would be tough because it had to be fruity. There was a Petite Syrah on the list. I’m sure any of those would have been fine but I opted for the Beringer White Zinfandel. Beringer isn’t the most upscale brand but it’s decent for the price. This particular brand and varietal is a favorite of my in-laws when they come here to visit.
I totally made the right choice. Normally, White Zinfandel is a bit too sweet for me. But combined with the smokey, hot flavors of the wings, the sweetness balanced everything out. This wine is fruity with hints of green apple. There is a slightly bitter taste in the finish but it is hardly noticeable.
The key to pairing wings with wine is to select a wine that will not compete with the flavor of the sauce. Stick with something light, fruity and without a high alcohol content. I would love to read your comments about which wines you enjoy with chicken wings.
I will post again soon. Until then, stay hungry and enjoy your wine!