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Which White? Chicken/lime/cilantro

I'm having a pool party, Gustav willing, serving Epicurious foolproof grilled chicken, which is a brined chicken tossed in a "vinagrette" of olive oil, fish sauce, lime, mint, cilantro, and the barest hint of red pepper flakes. (note no vinegar, so easy on the wine) Sides are wheat berry salad w/ corn and tomatos, arugula/watermelon/feta/olive salad, multiple breads and spreads.

I need suggestions for a white that won't fight the fairly intense flavors of the chicken. I usually like NZ Sauv Blanc, CA Viognier, love Caymus Condundrum, but can't afford to serve it to this many people (24). Red suggestions are also welcomed if you think they're called for...my actual plan was just to serve the garnacha I have in the basement if people really want red w this chicken.

Specific suggstions (under $15, maybe?) or just an idea of a good choice of varietal would be helpful. Thanks!

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  1. In that price range ($15 or less), I would recommend a Riesling or Gewurztraminer from Trimbach, Pierre Sparr or Dr. Loosen.

    If you like NZ sauvignon blanc, try that as well or (to my palate) a less abrasive style SB from Chile.

    2 Replies
    1. re: vinosnob

      excellent advice from vinosnob. the gewurtz really should be a Trimbach or an other more dry style winemaker, though the rieslings can do with a little residual sugar. Another great combination would be gruner veltliner in a fuller style. these are often labeled 'smaragd', are mention a relatively late harvest month, like november (still dry wine). Domane Wachau Terrassen Smaragd would be nice for example.

      1. re: Willem

        you may be hard pressed to find any stuff at the smaragd level for less than 15 but i agree gruner veltliner would be a good choice..

    2. easy choice: riesling or gewurztraminer.... the lime, the fish sauce, the cilantro, the pepper flakes, not to mention the chicken, these wines are the common denominator.

      the only other thing I could recommend would be a sweetish bubbly like moscato d'asti.

      1. I'd probably do a dry or off-dry Riesling

        1 Reply
        1. re: whiner

          What about Chateau Ste. Michelle riesling? It's around $10 and WAY outperforms its price.

        2. Dana,

          You already like the Conundrum. It has the body to stand up to a fair amount of spice, and enough acid (from the SB) to handle food well. It also has the body, from the Chardonnay, to work with chicken. I'd stick with this one. Now, I liked the recipe better, when there was more Viognier and Musct, but then I loved the "Southern nights" smell of those earlier wines.

          This is our "house white," and, as my wife is a NOLA cook, I find that it holds its own with a lot of her dishes.


          1. Oops, just saw the price range - sorry. Still, Costco in PHX offers the Conudndrum at US$19/btl.. That is one reason that it is our house white. Kick in a few extra $'s and go for it. You will not be disappointed.


            1. Thanks everyone!

              Riesling: I appreciate the specific producers, because I'm always worried I'll get one of the sweeeet ones.

              Gewrutz: That reminds me, I liked a Montinore Gewurtz, Willamette 06 in a rest. this summer. I wonder what the chances are I could find that in a wine store...i see their only distributor is in Charleston, SC (where I tasted it). $11-$13

              Condundrum: Good price, Bill...i think I'm paying $25ish. And that's interesting about the change...I used to love it a little bit more than I do now, I thought I was just becoming jaded ;-)

              Which leads me to... how many wines do you think is resonable to serve at a party? Does it become confusing for guests if there are too many choices?

              Appears Gustav will not be turning east, but now Hanna is my rain maker.

              9 Replies
              1. re: danna

                If I was throwing the party, I would offer a variety of wines within my budget. This will spark conversation and give everyone the opportunity to taste wines that they might not drink usually.

                In my experience, guests don't get overwhelmed by a wide selection of wine; they just drink it ;)

                1. re: danna

                  How many wines to serve? Depends on a couple things.

                  FIRST, assuming it's a dinner with a little wine emphasis and you have just one main course, then I'd say 2 wines is about right, gives you the opportunity to compare how the 2 wines match and clash with the dish. Add one additional wine for each course you're having.

                  OR, assuming that you're really doing more of a wine tasting and the food is just there to "bounce the wine off of", then there's no realistic limit. 4 or 5 wines would be fine, just try to get varietals that have some realistic chance of matching your dish(s).

                  And... whenever someone mentions "party", I think it's always great if you can fashion some sort of post-dinner wine experience with nice matching desserts. Often that's what guests remember most and it fits the festive atmosphere.

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    Well, there aren't actually any "courses"...it's a pool party with a buffet table. But I am putting out hors d'ouerves in advance of dinner :

                    fig, goat and prosciutto pizza
                    cheddar fennel cheese straws
                    chips and salsa

                    (I know, a bit of mish mash but they are favorites from previous parties) Maybe I should start out w/ something different.


                    1. re: danna

                      Because your main course accompaniments are medium-whites I would try to avoid heaveir wines with these hors d'ouerves...

                      For the latter two items (cheddar fennel anything) and chips and salsa, IMO the common denominator there is Sauvignon Blanc.

                      I assume the pizza is goat CHEESE, fig and prosciutto.... I'd probably do a moscato d'asti with this as moscato is very nice with both figs and prosciutto...

                      Interestingly, if you do moscato and sauvignon blanc with your apps then you could keep these two wines on the table for the main course (the lime cilantro chicken), and serve (for example), a riesling and gewurz along with the chicken.... so you end up turning it into a mini-tasting event by giving the guests 4 wines to match their main course with which is an excellent wine-tasting experience that people could learn alot from (assuming that's part of the objective of the meal).

                      1. re: danna

                        RE: How many wines to serve. If you meant bottles/person...

                        You know your guest better than we do. HOWEVER... depending upon how much these people are lushes, and assuming the only alcoholic option is wine, I'd probably assume 6 pours in a bottle and an average of 2 pours/person-who-is-drinking for the first hour, 1-2 pours for the second hour, and 1 pour for each additional hour. (So, for example, if you think the party will last 4 hours, I'd plan on going through just under 1 bottle/person-who-is-drinking)

                        If it were MY friends who are all in thier twenties and early thirties, and mostly big wine drinkers, it could be a little more than that. If it were my parents friends, who are all in their late 50's and not big winos, it could be a little less than that.

                        If you meant how many DIFFERENT wines to serve: I wouldn't serve more than three and I might serve two. BTW: Fig goat and pricutto pizza sounds AWESOME and would go reat with bubbly, particularly rose. Actually, the chips and salsa would also work with pink bubbly.

                        In terms of Rieslings in your price range, I like Claire's Landing from Australia and Dr. Konstanin Frank (preferably) Off-Dry from the Fingerlakes in NY. If you can handle a little sweetness, I'd go with the Dr. L (Germany) or, if you can find it in your price range, the Leitz Dragonstone (also Germany).

                        1. re: whiner

                          I like the pink bubbly idea...most of my guests are teammates and our team colors are pink and more pink.

                          I should have said, fig preserves rather than fresh fig, although if I can find a few I'll toss them on for garnish...it's a fairly sweet concoction, but balanced(I think) by the cheese and the salty prosciutto. (like the country ham and fig preserve biscuits I grew up eating.) I did a test run last night and it WAS awesome, thanks for saying so!

                          1. re: danna

                            I would serva a couple of bubblies with the apps and bring out your whites for the chicken.

                            It's a party! Two or three choices for each is not too many, since it's a casual gathering.

                            If you can find Vision Cellars CA White Table Wine, (www dot visioncellars dot com) it's a blend of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. We love it with the combo of lime and cilantro.

                          2. re: whiner

                            You were right...way more wine was consumed than I expected. Even with most the of the ladies starting with a couple of the (rather weak) mojitos, and a lot of guys drinking beer, 20 adults still went through at least 8 bottles of wine, and I think probably more. Lots of people brought wine, and I lost count of how many of those I opened. And, luckily, one of the gift wines was Condundrum!

                            Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

                            1. re: danna

                              So your tastes and my rec. for the Conundrum went well? Regardless, glad to hear that you enjoyed the evening.

                              Just did a reunion with friends in CO. Meal for six and one is not a wino. We ended up doing eight bottles during a six hour meal. If there had been any more cigar-guys in the group, I'd have tapped the hostess' Port selection.

                              Glad that all either lived, or were staying (us) really, really close by. However, wife and I had a 7:00AM tee-time. Let's just say that I have struck the ball better...


                    2. Wow! what a great thread. I learned so much on pairing and recipes reading this.

                      Danna, glad your party wasn't "Hanna'ed" out. Hope everyone enjoyed everything.