Not too long ago I wrote an article about the best wine to serve with pasta and red sauce. I decided to take my research a little further to figure out what wine goes best with Chicken Parm, one of my favorite dishes.
Since Chicken Parm is probably the most popular of all the Italian-American dishes out there, I figured it would come in handy.
This article isn’t written for wine experts. It’s written for Chicken parm lovers who are hopefully wine lovers too.
I ate a lot of Chicken Parm and drank a lot of wine in order to write this article. I came up with a list of what I believe are the best wines to drink when you’re eating Chicken Parm.
There are a lot of great options out there for both red wine and white wine. I’m excited to share my chicken parmesan wine pairings with you.
What Is Chicken Parm?
I’m pretty sure everyone reading this knows the answer already, but I’ll give you a quick little description anyway.
“Chicken parm” is the nickname for what is also known as “chicken parmesan” or “chicken parmigiana”. All three terms can be used interchangeably.
It’s important to understand that chicken parm is not really a traditional Italian dish. So, if you ever take a trip to Italy, don’t expect to find it on any menus.
If you do see a menu in Italy offering “parmigiana”, you can probably expect eggplant parm. Eggplant parm is very popular all throughout Italy.
In my opinion, the best chicken parm can be found in old school Italian restaurants in cities where Italian immigrants settled decades ago. Places like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston. I’m talking about the “red sauce” joints you remember as a kid.
Chicken parm was an invention that Italian immigrants came up with here in the United States to please the American palate. Even though every restaurant probably makes their chicken parm a little different, it’s all going to involve chicken cutlets, tomato sauce, and cheese.
Some places will have a sweet tomato sauce and some will have a rich tomato sauce. Some places will use mozzarella cheese and some will use provolone cheese.
Whatever recipe they use, it’s usually really good. But, the interesting thing is that your Chicken Parm experience can be so much better if you drink the right wine with it.
The Best Red Wine with Chicken Parm
This is a red wine with medium acidity. It is a light bodied wine and is sometimes said to have a hint of mushrooms. It’s an excellent choice to serve with the chicken parmesan.
Chianti is a red wine produced in the Chianti region of Tuscany. This Italian wine is made mostly with Sangiovese grapes. Chianti Classico are premium versions of the Chianti wine and have a high tannin content as well as high acidity. A Chianti is a good match for a rich tomato sauce.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a red grape that is grown in many parts of the world. It is considered a bolder red wine. It has flavors similar to black currant and black cherry. This lush red wine is good with rich red tomato sauces and rich cheese.
Rosso di Montalcino
This fruity red wine comes from the town of Montalcino in Tuscany. It is known to have moderate acidity compared to Chianti which is made from the same grapes. It’s a perfect match for tomato sauce and aged cheese such as parmigiano reggiano.
Barbera wines are named after the variety of grape they come from. These wines come from Northern Italy. Although they are now grown in California, Australia and other parts of the world, Piedmont, Italy is where it is most popular.
A Barbera wine has red fruit flavors such as red berries and cherry. It is high in acidity and low in tannins which makes it a great wine choice for chicken parm.
This medium body red wine is made in Sicily and is becoming pretty popular in the United States. I’ve drunk lots of it at the foothills of Mt. Etna right where it’s made. It’s a great choice if you usually order Cabernet Sauvignon and want to try something new. It has some fruity flavors like black cherry and plum. It has medium to high tannins and acidity.
A merlot is a red wine that can be paired with several types of food. It is a good choice for Chicken Parm because it goes well with chicken and the tomato sauce. This is one of the best red wines to buy when you aren’t really sure what to get. The flavor profile allows you to drink it with dishes that would also go with Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir. A fully-bodied Merlot has hints of plum and blackberry with moderate tannins.
This wine is made from the Malbec grape. It is originally from France, but now is grown mostly in Argentina. It is very popular in the United States, right behind Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. This lush red wine is an excellent choice for a chicken parm pairing.
The Best White Wine with Chicken Parm
Pinot grigio is considered a dry white wine for the most part. It is the same as a Pinot Gris if you are calling it by its French name. While most people think Pinot Grigio belongs next to a plate of seafood or pasta with a lemon sauce, I actually liked it with my chicken parm.
A good Pinot Grigio won’t overpower the flavors of the tomato sauce and sharp cheese on a chicken parm. Italian Pinot Grigio is known for its bright acidity.
This wine is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape which hails from France. The truth is that this fruity wine is also made in Italy. Friuli-Venezia Giulia is one region in Italy that produces Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a wine that always pairs well with chicken.
Pinot Bianco is a white wine normally found in Northern Italy. It is a full-bodied white wine that can be dry or sweet. It is a great choice for things that are cheesy…and chicken parm is usually very cheesy.
Pinot Bianco is also called Pinot Blanc in French. It has some fruity notes of citrus, pear and apple.
This white wine is usually considered a dry wine, but it can have some sweet flavors. It’s a full bodied white wine with high acidity. Chardonnays are great companions with most chicken dishes. While you don’t normally hear about pairing Chardonnay with tomato sauce, I really liked it alongside a plate of chicken parmesan.
How to make Chicken Parm
This isn’t supposed to be a recipe post, and I’m sure most of you have your own version written on an index card stuffed in an old recipe box somewhere. But, I figured it would be helpful to give you a quick tutorial on how to make a really good traditional chicken parm.
At the very least, you’ll understand the basic structure of a proper chicken parm. It will help with choosing the right wine.
@mortadellahead Here’s a chicken parm calzone tutorial! #ShowOffLandOFrost #somerville #bostontiktok #bostonfoodies ♬ original sound – Mortadella Head
Step 1: ingredients
Get all of your ingredients together. Here’s what you need.
Chicken breast: White meat is what people are used to when they think of chicken cutlets. If you like dark meat, you could use chicken thighs, but you might freak some people out.
Bread crumbs: You can use plain bread crumbs and season them yourself. You can also buy Italian style breadcrumbs where the seasoning is already added.
Flour: A lot of people like to dredge their chicken cutlets in flour first, but it’s not necessary.
Eggs: Beat your eggs for your egg wash. This is an important part of the breading process.
Olive Oil: Get a lighter olive oil for frying. There’s no need to use fancy olive oil for frying chicken cutlets. Save that for the salad.
Tomato Sauce: The tomato sauce is a really important ingredient. You can make an easy Marinara sauce that will come out delicious. If you want to cut back on your prep time, you can use your favorite tomato sauce in a jar. Just make sure it’s a good one.
Cheese: When it comes to cheese you have options. You want to stick with Italian cheeses like mozzarella, provolone, parmesan and Romano. I like to use a sliced cheese that melts well and a hard grated cheese to add lots of flavor.
Salt and pepper: I always suggest Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Step 2: butterfly the meat
Take your chicken breasts and butterfly them with a sharp chef’s knife. You want to end up with thin chicken fillets. Now take each chicken piece and give a few nice whacks with a meat mallet.
If you don’t have a meat mallet you can use the bottom of a frying pan.
Remember…the thinner, the better.
Step 3: bread the chicken
It’s time to bread your chicken with a typical breading station. Line up 3 plates. The first one should have flour. The second plate should have the egg wash. The third plate will be breadcrumbs. Make sure you add salt and pepper to the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs.
When you season chicken it tastes better. I’m sure you already know that.
Take your pounded out chicken and dredge both sides in the flour.
Then dip it in the egg wash. Let any excess egg drip off.
Finally, coat the chicken in the breadcrumbs. Push both sides of the chicken down into the breadcrumbs really hard. This helps the breadcrumbs stick and gives you full coverage.
Step 4: cook in a skillet
Take a large skillet and coat the bottom with a good amount of olive oil. Put it on the stove over medium high heat and let the oil heat up.
You will know the oil is ready if you sprinkle a few breadcrumbs in and they start to sizzle.
It’s very important to make sure the oil is very hot when you put the cutlets in the pan. If it’s hot enough the breadcrumbs will sear right away forming a nice crispy crust on the outside, This is what you want. Crispy breadcrumbs on the outside and juicy chicken on the inside.
Also, make sure your chicken cutlets are at room temperature when you fry them. If they are too cold you’ll have to fry them longer in the oil to get the middle cooked and the outside could burn.
When you put the chicken cutlets in the oil, if the outside of the cutlets get too tark and look like they are burning, that’s no big deal. Just turn the stove down to medium heat.
I like to cook my cutlets when the oil is at about 350 degrees. They usually cook for about 4 minutes total. Just flip them once after about 2 minutes.
After the cutlets are fried, place them on a paper towel lines baking sheet to soak up any excess oil.
Step 5: construct your Chicken Parm
Now it’s time to construct your Chicken Parm.
Get a baking dish and spread some tomato sauce all over the bottom.
Place the fried chicken cutlets on top of the tomato sauce. Add some more tomato sauce on top of each chicken cutlet. Use as much sauce as you like. I’m a big fan of extra sauce.
Take your slices of mozzarella, provolone or both and place them on top of the sauced cutlets.
Sprinkle on some grated parmesan or Romano cheese.
As you can see, you can use different types of cheese for this dish. Try a few combinations and see what you like the best.
Step 6: how to bake
Take the baking dish and pop into an oven that’s been preheated to 375 degrees. It should take about 20 minutes, but keep an eye on it. You’ll know it’s ready when the cheese is brown and bubbly on the top.
Now you should be all set. Get the chicken parm and order the wine with confidence. When you take your first sip…think of me!