Why Fried Chicken Pairs Well With Champagne

Why sparkling wine is a crisp bird's perfect pairing

We've declared August 11-22 Fried Chicken Fortnight. Watch this space for two full weeks of recipes, chicken talk, chef tips and more.

Sarah Simmons, chef at NYC's City Grit, wants you to start drinking sparkling wine with your fried chicken.

In fact, she's opening up a restaurant this fall, Birds & Bubbles, that's dedicated entirely to the classic pairing.

There's more to the combination than just the novelty of high-brow drinking with low-brow dining: Bracing bubbles are a battered, crisp bird's best friend. "We serve pickles with fried foods because they're a palate cleanser, and so is Champagne," says Simmons. "It has marvelous acidity and effervescence to cut through rich, heavy dishes."

"It's really one of the greatest matches of all time," adds Jordan Salcito, beverage director at Momofuku group, who likes to pour magnums of Savart Champagne alongside the fried Korean and Southern style chickens at NYC's Noodle Bar.

So which bottles are best to pop with your poultry? Simmons likes the NV Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut ($90) and the NV Selosse Substance Blanc de Blancs ($325) if she's going all out. If toasty, buttery Champagne is your thing, look for more moderately priced offerings from Charles Heidsieck.

If high prices ruffle your feathers, try a Cremant, says Salcito. These French sparklers are made using a similar method to that used in Champagne, but are generally much less expensive. Salcito likes wines from the Jura (try the NV Tissot Crémant du Jura Extra Brut, $22) as well as those from Alsace, which are often made with Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

And don't forget Germany. You can't go wrong with a dry, bubbly German Sekt, typically made with Riesling. Look for producers like Van Volxem, says Salcito, which is bottling some of the best wines around.