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Chenin or Champagne? How to Pair Wine With Chicken Wings

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Sauced chicken wings are mainstays at house parties, bars, barbecues, brunches, Super Bowl festivities and even wedding receptions. While deep-frying chicken has southern roots in the U.S., coating chicken wings in a spicy butter sauce was reportedly invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.

While some like to enjoy a cold beer with their wings—and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that—there are some fantastic wine pairings, too. Whether you like them hot, sweet, spicy or barbecued, you can bet there’s a wine that will complement your favorite sauces. 

Buffalo Wings

Balance is key to pairing wine with Buffalo wings, which are offered in various heat levels from mild to medium to hot.

“The goal is to have a balancing act between the butter in the sauce and the body in the wine, sweet and spicy, topped off with some nice acidity to keep the palate refreshed,” says Jordan Lynn Traylor, a certified sommelier, chef and wine consultant.

“When butter and hot sauce are having a party, off-dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer are always on the guest list,” says Traylor. “These grapes are the perfect attendees because not only will the hint of sweetness in the wine cool off the heat and spiciness, but they also have enough body and va-va-voom to stand up to this butter-based sauce.”

Vanessa Price, DWS, author of Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World, and creative director and founder of The Vinum Collective, a lifestyle platform to help increase wine’s accessibility, recommends off-dry Chenin Blanc

“The slight—not fully sweet!—sugar will soften the heat, the bright citrus will go tang for tang and the backbone of Chenin—acidity!—will wipe that buttery sauce clean, leaving your mouth ready for the next swig and bite,” says Price.