Besides being considered by just about everyone in the know as “the ultimate high low pairing,” Southern Living explains that the qualities of each are innately perfect matches. For the same reason that people often drink Coca-Cola with fried foods, the bubbles and acid in champagne make it an excellent palate cleanser for grease. Katie Morton, wine director at Vini e Fritti — which means wine and fried in Italian — tells Vinepair that the zingy crisp acidity in champagne makes your mouth water, refreshing it between each bite.
The only issue is that champagne tends to be expensive, making it less approachable for regular drinking. If not champagne, Southern Living recommends choosing a dry sparkling wine such as Cava and avoiding sweeter options like prosecco, which are made using a method that doesn’t produce crisp bubbles. When looking for alternatives, Grub Street suggests picking bubbles made using the traditional method, which entails aging the wine on dead yeast cells, often labeled “sur lie.” Though it might not sound like something you want around your wine, the yeast imparts aromas that the site describes as bread-like. In turn, these flavors make a fantastic match for fried breaded chicken.
Since fried food can vary widely depending on whether it has been battered, breaded, lightly fried, or deep-fried, if you plan to try this pairing beyond chicken, Morton suggests choosing higher acid bubbles to go with richer food and vice versa (via Vinepair).