Justin Amick, the general manager and sommelier at the Spence, names a favorite pairing for fried chicken among wine geeks: Champagne, ideally rosé, for its zippy acidity, residual sugars, and carbonation—all key characteristics when dealing with fat, salt, and a crunchy texture. A more budget-friendly alternative that’s just as lively with added minerality is a dry (sec or demi-sec) Vouvray from France’s Loire Valley.
Arianne Fielder, a bartender at Inman Park’s Parish, says fried chicken wants a cocktail that “sings to the occasion and to the South.” Her first recommendation: a bourbon (like Blanton’s or Black Maple Hill) on the rocks, or a sweeter bourbon-based drink like an old-fashioned. For chicken with heat and spice, ask for a more refreshing cocktail splashed with sparkling wine.
Molly Gunn of the Porter Beer Bar thinks Southern fried chicken calls for Southern beer. She recommends contrasting browned bird with SweetWater IPA for its bright citrus notes that balance the grease. Or, to match similar flavors, try a Southern Pecan nut brown ale from Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia brewing company; its nuttiness will enhance the chicken’s sweetness.
This article originally appeared in our January 2014 issue.