Pair It Up! One-Sentence Chicken With Gamay

The Herbed Skillet Chicken recipe comes from the Good Housekeeping series Cook Without the Book: One-Sentence Recipes—dishes that are all about convenience. I cooked it three times this summer and can attest that, besides being brainlessly easy to assemble, it's healthy and delicious (hence the second and third times). The chicken picks up a little sweetness from the onions, savoury characters from the mushrooms and aromatics from the fresh thyme. Pairing wine to rustic food like this, a comfort dish with only four ingredients, is a dream. There are no sneaky spices clashing with the wine in ways you hadn't expected; all of the flavours are on the same page.

It's the kind of simple food cooked well that you would expect to eat in a small French town and one that naturally demands a glass of wine, but nothing too fussy. You'll find plenty of flexibility in what you can drink with it, but reds in the light to medium range with earthy and herbal characters really sing. Pinot Noir and Gamay are often smart picks when chicken and mushrooms are cooked together because they have complimentary mushroomy flavours and won't overpower the chicken. A lighter-bodied Syrah or Grenache (or blend) with herbaceous and black pepper characters would also be a fun match. The last time I cooked the Herbed Skillet Chicken, I accompanied it with a Loire Cab Franc from Francois Plouzeau called Le Rouge des Cornus. It is a wine with soft tannin, pretty fruit, subtle herb characters, and while it went well enough, the pairing would have been better with a lighter, even softer wine. I think this opens the door for Gamay.

From the My Wine Canada portfolio, I'm choosing the two single vineyard Gamays from opposite sides of the country. The first is the JoieFarm 2012 Gamay, made from fruit grown on the Naramata Bench. It packs soft fruit with a meaty, savoury side. The other is from the Niagara Peninsula, 13th Street Winery Sandstone Old Vines 2012 Gamay. The vines that produce this fruit were planted in 1983. Expect minerality and ripe, lush fruit characters. If economics is top of mind, opt for their 2012 Gamay Noir which is on special for a limited time at $17.95.


Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.

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