Chicken Cacciatore: Part II

I work part time at a wine store two nights a week, so leftovers and quick meals are crucial so that I have something to pack for dinner. Luckily, I had some leftover Chicken Cacciatore from the other night, so dinner was good to go. I heated it with up with some chopped zucchini as opposed to zoodles because I didn’t have time earlier in the week to spiralize zucchini.

This post just goes to show how wine can make, break, or change a meal. When I first made this dish, I paired it with an exquisite Sicilian Red blend. This was a wine that I highly enjoyed on its own, but was not as great with the meal. I ended up drinking the wine separately from the food because it did nothing to enhance it, and visa versa.

This time was different. On this night, we were sampling different Californian wines at the shop, including this guy: Vina Robles Petite Sirah, 2012 from Paso Robles, California. Petit Sirahs are bold, red wines. They are often harsh at first, and need to breathe for an hour or so before they soften and the flavors bloom. This wine needed about an hour with the cork popped off before all of the flavors fully developed. The wine itself is not bad. It definitely needs to be paired with something, as it is too dry to drink on its own, but is still more mellow than most Petite Sirahs that I have tried in the past. Notes of plum, cherry, chocolate, allspice, and hit of black peppercorn fill the wine. It had a soft texture on the mouth, followed by a dry aftertaste that needed a steak or something with marinara sauce to wash it down. Lucky for me, I had the chicken cacciatore, and we had a lull in customers, so I could eat and pair!

While being an okay wine, the pairing was far better than Part I. The flavors of the meal and the wine joined together, rather than being stagnant and separate. The soft, velvet texture of the wine went well with the still juicy chicken. I think the acidity of the marinara balanced the hit of black pepper from the wine, and the plum/cherry of the wine brought out the sweetness of the bell peppers in the food. I was shocked! My microwaved leftovers, which I ate out of a tupperware, felt like a gourmet meal just because of a wine pairing. This is why I love pairing wine with food. It can make, break, or completely change a meal! 4/5 grapes!


Recipe: Skinnytaste

Wine: Red, White, and Bleu ($24.99)


5 thoughts on “Chicken Cacciatore Part II: A Tale of Two Pairings”

  1. Great article, Sarah. Did you try the second wine before you let it breathe? I am curious if it would have changed your thoughts on the pairing. Second question: Since you compared two wines with the same meal, do you think the region had anything to do with one pairing fairing better than the other? Just a wine novice here wanting to learn more!

    1. Hi Jack! Thank you for your kind words! I am glad that you are enjoying the wine!

      I did try the 2nd wine before it had a chance to breathe, and it was very tight. When high tannic wine has not had a chance to breathe and let the flavors open up, there basically is no taste. You taste tannins, perhaps a strong red fruit or pepper flavor, but it is not the most pleasant. Had I tried the pairing before the flavors of the wine not had a chance to open, I imagine that it would not be as great. The tightness of the wine and the meal would be somewhat bitter.

      As far as the region’s influence on the pairing, I think that is all in your personal preference. I happen to enjoy Italian wines more than Californian, yet the Californian wine pairing I enjoyed more. Go figure!
      Cheers and Bon Appetit!

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