We had Chicken Kiev today. It was only the pre-bought version from Waitrose, so I have no recipe to share, but I was keen to know what’s best to drink with it and the best advice I could find was to choose either Sauvignon Blanc or a buttery Chardonnay. I tried both to compare.
The idea with Sauvignon Blanc is to have the citrus fruit and the high acidity cut through the butter for a nice contrast. I chose a New Zealand Sauvignon made in the world-leading area of Marlborough and my initial impression of this zingy wine was that it was very lemony. But interestingly, after a mouthful of buttery Chicken Kiev the food took the zingy citrus flavour down a notch from lemon to at least ripe grapefruit, but also bringing out hints of tropical fruit. So if you know you find that New World Sauvignon Blanc is generally too sharp and fruity for your taste, you are likely to enjoy it more if you drink it with a buttery Chicken Kiev – it tames the zing. And yes, the wine enhanced the food by cutting through the fat and cleansing the inside of my mouth after each swig.
It worked far better for me than the Chilean Chardonnay I chose. One of my sources suggested Chardonnay as a match for Chicken Kiev because a bottle with a very buttery character would supposedly complement the butter in the chicken. But this is another example where I think contrast works better than complement. Although I noticed the lovely butter and oak character in the wine before eating, it was simply stripped away with the food. If your tongue is already coated ingarlic butter flavours you don’t really notice it in the wine, so in this case the food robbed the wine of flavour.
So in future my advice is to pair Chicken Kiev with Sauvignon Blanc, sit back and enjoy. The precise bottle I chose this time is a vivacious, zesty example from New Zealand at a very decent price point – the MSB Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, £7.99 from Adnams Cellar and Kitchen or £7.29 from winedrop.co.uk (at both these sites simply search for MSB).
Marlborough producers can charge a lot for their Sauvignon these days, having established themselves as the perfect place to grow the grape, but thankfully this bottle captures the essence of typical New Zealand flavours while also being easier on the wallet.
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