What To Drink With Chicken Piccata For Beautiful Flavor Harmony

A good food and drink pairing is all about balance, body, and complementary flavors. To think through what goes well with chicken piccata, consider the different elements — seared chicken cutlets, a rich lemon butter pan sauce, herbaceous parsley, and pops of salty capers.

Across the board, look for a beverage with plenty of zippy acidity. Cocktails that rely on bright citrus are a clear choice, like a Tom Collins that combines gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. High-acid wines are also a great go-to. Select medium-bodied and acidic white wines like a dry riesling or light-bodied red wines with ample acid like a gamay. For beer, choose a brew that leans more crisp and refreshing than heavy, bitter, malty, hoppy, or grainy. Though well-balanced, chicken piccata is fairly rich, so you will definitely want a lighter beer that you can enjoy throughout the meal without getting overly full.

Wines, beers, and cocktails that go well with chicken piccata

Go simple with a vodka soda and a lemon wedge or classic with a French 75 — dry sparkling wine upgraded with gin, lemon, and a touch of simple syrup. The olive juice in a dirty vodka martini plays well with the brininess of Italian capers, and a gin martini with a twist would cleanse the palate between bites. Stay away from syrupy and bitter cocktails. Think less Negroni and more Aperol Spritz.

The same is true for beers. A little bit of bitterness in a light-bodied and refreshing beer would be pleasant, but an American or Indian pale ale would be too overpowering for chicken piccata. Try a blonde ale, witbier, or pilsner. Chicken piccata is distinctly Italian-American, so a crisp and refreshing Italian lager like a Peroni Nastro Azzurro is a great pairing with its notes of citrus and palate-cleansing qualities.

For wines, consider a sauvignon blanc, Vermentino, or Chenin blanc. Some chardonnays that aren't aged in oak and lean brighter, like a French Chablis, are also great. Those who tend to prefer red wine should select something light-bodied and acid-forward like a Zweigelt, pinot noir, grignolino, or Schiavo. In general, wines made with grapes grown in cooler climates tend to be more acidic, so consider where they are from. Opt for a pinot noir from Oregon, Upstate New York, or Burgundy, or a sauvignon blanc from Bordeaux, New Zealand, or Sancerre.

Why these pairings work

It may seem counterintuitive, but pairing acidic foods and drinks together helps to mellow the acid in both. An albariño, for example, provides ample zip plus a salty minerality that will make those capers shine. A German-style sour beer is also great for bringing some acid to the party as they tend to be dry, drinkable, and versatile.

You are also going to want to choose a beverage that has a similar weight. Something very light-bodied is going to be overwhelmed by the fat in the dish while a very heavy drink will overpower the delicate citrus and herbal flavors. Though chicken piccata does have a brightness and uses a lean protein, it also has some heft from the dredged and pan-fried chicken and plenty of butter. It falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to richness, so opt for a medium-bodied libation. You can use the exact same concepts to make a non-alcoholic cocktail and food pairing. Try a citrus soda, a zero-proof Salty Dog, or sparkling water with a lemon twist.