Whether you prefer your Chicken Alfredo with heavy cream and butter or on the lighter side with broth and skim milk; spinach, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, or veggie-less; penne or linguini, the creamy, garlicky Italian specialty pairs best with certain types of wine: acidic and fruity, but dry whites. For example, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Orvieto. Or it pairs best with light and acidic reds such as Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or Barbera. Why is that?
Some believe the acidity in the wine can “cut” through the richness of the sauce.
Others prefer certain Italian wines that cleanse between bites, while even others search more earthy-toned varieties to amplify some of the ingredients, whether it’s the mushrooms or the chicken itself.
As with anything that comes to palette preferences, taste is all in the eye (or should we say, mouth) of the beholder, but you may still struggle to figure out where to begin.
Let’s walk through all our suggestions, or what we’d like to call, the wine-pairing pastabilitiies.
Orvieto Paired With Alfredo Sauce
A great place to start is where some aficionados would argue is the only option for anything pasta: Italian wine.
Orvieto is made in central Italy’s Umbria region, along the banks of the Paglia River — an area that has been producing their specialty wine since the Etruscan period.
This world-renowned wine can be sweet or dry, in standard or higher-quality “superior” variants.
Made with Procanico and Grechetto grapes blended with Canaiolo Bianco or Malvasia Toscana, this dry, peach-scented bubbly has moderate acidity with notes of citrus, pear, green apple, figs, melon, and almond.
A glass of this crisp white dissects the rich creamy sauce to let the chicken flavors shine and brings out the nuttiness of the pasta and parmesan.
Ribolla Gialla Paired With Chicken Alfredo
Another Italian favorite is Ribolla Gialla. Produced in the Friuli region of northeast Italy bordering Slovenia, this light-bodied white has flavors of baked apple, tangerine, citrus, beeswax, and thyme.
With hot, dry summers and cold, harsh winters, this region is ideal for viticulture.
The sun heats the vineyards by day, helping the fruit to ripen and develop its flavor. Then the Adriatic Sea and Alpine Mountains help the temps drop at night to preserve the grape’s acidity, which creates its celebrated taste.
Chardonnay Paired With Chicken Alfredo
Instead of “breaking through” the thick sauce, pair a Chardonnay with Chicken Alfredo to complement the flavors and highlight the poultry. But not just any Chardonnay.
Typically, this international favorite that hails from the Burgundy region of France (but can also be found on the other side of the pond in almost 95,000 acres of California soil) is fermented in old oak barrels.
Older (rather than newer) is the key. The aged containers give it more texture, added tannin and structure, and its signature creamy, buttery flavor with notes of toast, cloves, vanilla, and nutmeg.
Some might argue, though, that the oakiness might overwhelm some of the main ingredients of the pasta dish (most notably, the chicken) and make the sauce taste woody or sweet.
And if it’s not produced with very high quality standards, the wine might even give off a stale buttered popcorn taint. Which in anyone’s book wouldn’t pair well with anything, let alone Chicken Alfredo.
So to be safe, look for California or France varieties known for their quality, full-bodied richness.
Pinot Grigio Paired With Chicken Alfredo
Another Italian staple (the country’s most popular from the northern regions and America’s most popular import), this light and refreshing white with subtle flavors of minerals, peach, white flowers, pear, smoke, citrus, and lemon pairs well with Chicken Alfredo.
But not because it complements it, but because it keeps the palette clean.
What makes Alfredo so delicious is what also can make it lose its flavor.
How? Fat from the cream and butter can coat your taste buds, making them less sensitive to the nuances of garlic, cheese, and the creamy goodness after a few bites.
That’s where a few sips of Pinot Grigio can continue to bring culinary joy by washing over the palette and wiping the tongue clean — and maybe even help you eat less of the calorie-laden cuisine.
Beaujolais Paired With Chicken Alfredo
Are whites the only wines that can be paired with Chicken Alfredo? Not at all. Reds like Beaujolais, a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine, is a perfect pairing.
Generally made of the thin-skinned, low tannin Gamay grape, this light red has a wide range of sensations — from raspberry, tart cherry, and cranberry to forest floor, mushroom, smoke, violet, banana, baker’s yeast, and bubblegum.
Which one pairs best with the garlicky delight? That’s up to you.
If you’re looking for a lighter, fruitier, floral palette pleaser to penetrate the thickness of the sauce, then you might want to pour a glass of these:
- Saint-Amour (with notes of violet and peach, and a punch of spice)
- Juliénas (with aromas of strawberry, peach, violet, and cinnamon)
- Fleurie (a “feminine” choice with roses, iris, violet, red fruits, and peach)
- Chiroubles (with a mix of peaches and raspberry, Lily of the Valley and baking spices)
- Régnié (with tons of fruitiness, like peach, cherry, black currant, and raspberry)
- Côte de Brouilly (this silky favorite has aromas of cranberries and grape juice, and lots of refreshing acidity)
On the other hand, if you prefer a smokier, earthier flavor to enhance the ingredients in the dish, then you might want to give these a try:
- Chénas (named after the ancient oak forests, it has a more “woodsy” quality with silky tannins and hints of rose and iris)
- Moulin-à-Vent (younger versions boast of plum, cherry, and violet, but if left to age it will have more dried fruit, earthy truffles, meat, and spice notes)
- Morgon (meant to age 5-10 years, flavors of peach, apricot, cherry, and plum develop into a more earthy wine)
- Brouilly (the unique volcanic soil of this southern Cru vineyard wine adds aromas of plum and strawberry, peach, and red currants)
Barbera d’Asti Paired With Chicken Alfredo
Barbera d’Asti should be reserved for those who appreciate a smokier, earthy flavor.
Although this Italian low-acidic, low-alcohol red is bursting with cherry, plum, raspberry, and raisin, it also has hints of black pepper, spice, and mushroom.
This distinctive wine grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy has a rich, deep, near-black appearance but a surprisingly light-bodied taste, which makes it versatile and adaptable to many types of meals — from rich, Chicken Alfredo to a dark meat (like beef) dish with mushrooms and vegetables.
Pinot Noir or a Spanish Tempranillo from Rioja Paired With Chicken Alfredo and Mushrooms
Not everyone includes mushrooms in their Chicken Alfredo, but if you do a Pinot Noir or a Spanish Tempranillo from Rioja should be added to the menu.
Pinot Noir is a light red with overtones of strawberry and cherry, and tastes reminiscent of a forest floor. Its fruity body and acidity cuts through the sauce and its earthy funk brings out the mushroom’s woodsy, meaty flavor.
Another reason this Burgundy, France native is a perfect pairing?
It’s often considered the healthiest wine for its high levels of resveratrol (a polyphenol with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), low sugar, fewer calories, and low alcohol content, so it’s a perfect contrast to the typically not-so-healthy entrée.
Much like the food-friendly Pinot Noir, a Tempranillo from Rioja is also a nice complement to mushrooms, but with a little more character and smokiness.
Its deep flavor and mellow tannins has made this red one of Spain’s signature wines for almost two centuries.
With notes of cherry, dried figs, cedar, tobacco, and dill, this deep ruby-red grape ripens early and ferments in oak for at least 12 months, but well-crafted varieties can go as long as two or more decades.
Chicken Alfredo FAQs
Are reds or whites the best wines to pair with Chicken Alfredo?
Both are great complements, depending on which ones you choose.
Since the Italian dish is often heavy and topped with full-flavored cheese, a high acidic, fruity, dry wine will help cut through some of the richness or complement the ingredients.
Are Italian wines the best to pair with pasta dishes, like Chicken Alfredo?
If you’re an Italian connoisseur, the answer would be unequivocally, yes (Orvieto, Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Grigio, or Barbera d’Asti, anyone?)!
But French wines like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Merlot, as well as Spanish Tempranillo from Rioja have also gotten high marks for complementing Italy’s signature dishes.
How does wine cleanse the pallet, especially when eating cuisine like Chicken Alfredo?
When dishes are made with heavy cream, butter, or other fats, the richness tends to “laminate” the tongue, creating a layer after just a few bites that blocks out the flavors.
If you sip certain wines (like Pinot Grigio) between bites, the acid in the vino washes the palette clean and reinvigorates the taste buds. And it may even help you eat less!
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