I have to admit it… I love Buffalo Hot Wings. Spicy, crispy, chewy little nuggets that leave your face and fingers red and your tongue on a low simmer… I mean, what’s not to love? Unfortunately those delicious little deep-fried gems do not live up to the promise of healthy eating which one often associates with the consumption of chicken. This month’s recipe provides much of the flavor and toothsome satisfaction of hot wings without all of the guilt. When paired with a crisp and chilled Riesling, you can really enjoy much of what this time of year has to offer.
Riesling is an aromatic white wine which is often associated with Germany and other cool growing regions in Europe, but it is also successful in many other parts of the world, including Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Upstate New York and California. Some wonderful examples are produced locally in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties. The wine itself can be produced with varying levels of sweetness ranging from bone dry and bracing to sweet and sticky. I would recommend a slightly off-dry (meaning slightly sweet) version as a soothing counterpoint to the spicy heat and vinegar base in this month’s grilled buffalo chicken sandwich recipe.
The floral aromatics in the wine match quite alluringly with the slight smokiness from the grill and the gentle tang from the marinade. The frame of acidity in which Riesling hangs its flavors is a nice match for the round, fatty textures in the dressing, cheese crumbles and sauce, while the integrated fruit flavors and sweetness aid the chicken in exhibiting a juicy texture. The fruit notes in Riesling generally tend toward stone fruits, apples, pears and light citrus.
This is a great time of the year to fire up the grill and whip up this simple, relatively healthy and delicious meal to pair with a great local Riesling and to share with family and friends. 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