Tacos are one of my favorite foods. They can come in many different forms and contain a wide range of fillings and, like many other foods that you eat with your hands, they are fun! I have enjoyed tacos stuffed with all kinds of things, including fish, shrimp, abalone, beef, pork, nopales (cactus leaf), jicama, pickled radish, cheeses and sausages. This month’s recipe combines a particular cut of chicken, a specific cooking method, a unique taco shell and a flavorful sauce to produce an exceptionally delicious version of this well-known food.
The wonderfully aromatic white wine known as Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAY) pairs particularly well with this Pulled Chicken Taco recipe for a variety of reasons. The wine is full-bodied for a white wine and typically exhibits ample notes of fruits on the nose and palate, which are a beautiful contrast to the slight heat in the dish from the taco sauce and black pepper. The acidity in a well-made Viognier acts as a nice partner for the richness of the slow cooked chicken, while tropical characteristics in the wine meld seductively with the smoky chipotle in the sauce. The toppings that you choose to accompany the taco filling can really enhance the meat and the wine. Nice seasonal toppings to try include vine-ripened tomatoes and cucumbers, radishes, cilantro and grilled bell peppers and scallions. Since it is the perfect time of year to do so, I would also recommend cutting up some fresh peaches and nectarines to enjoy alongside the tacos.
Viognier grapes have been cultivated for centuries in the northern Rhone River Valley in France and have more recently been grown to produce excellent wines in the new world including Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, South America and right here in California. The Sonoma and Napa offerings that I have tasted have been truly outstanding. So grab a bottle of local Viognier and some fresh fruit and produce then prepare this deceptively simple recipe and raise a glass to enjoying food that is fun! Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or www.JamesFamilyCellars.com.