Pairing Off: KFC

Robert Emery of Goody Goody in Addison hangs around with a few pretty strange types.

Don't believe me? "I know some people who drink Krug with KFC," he says. Probably also runs in the 'let's take my C-Class to this weekend's Oklahoma St. game' crowd, too. But his comment begs a question rather fitting for this first Pairing Off episode: which wines go with Col. Sanders' secret recipe?

"Acidity--that's important with anything fried," says Harris Polakoff, owner of Pogo's. He suggests Louis Latour's 2006 Duet, a Chardonnay-Viognier blend ($12.99). "It's light, bright, good acidity--I think it's a real nice compliment.

"Although," he adds, "it's hard to stand up to KFC."

The Colonel, after all brings military bearing and...what? That's just a bullshit honorary title kinda like Decider? Oh, well.

Christopher Zielke, owner of Bolsa in Oak Cliff, suggests a Portuguese varietal: Famega Vinho Verde (which his restaurant sells for $20 a bottle). At barely nine percent alcohol, it's more akin to beer without the weight--clean, crisp and somewhat similar to the style recommended by Polakoff. Plus, Zielke points out, "it's got just a tiny little sparkle to it."

Perhaps Krug isn't such a bizarre idea, after all. "I was just thinking Champagne," Polakoff admits. "Maybe even a rose."

Don't want to go there. Rose causes shrinkage.

So Emery settles on either a Taittinger ($34.94) or, from California, a sparkling Scharffenberger (only $17.49)--"something crisp and bubbly, something to cut through the fat."

But how much should one really spend to wash down eleven herbs and spices, most of which seem to be salt? "If the market rallies, anything you want," Polakoff replies. Realistically, however, we wanted something on par with the cost of fried chicken, say in the $10-$20 range. Both the guy from Goody Goody and the owner of Pogo's then recommended cava from Spain, either the Marques de Gelida ($14.99 at Pogo's) or the Marques de Monistrol ($7.99 from Goody Goody).

For some reason, our editor insisted on the latter. I mean, really insisted, in a Dick Cheney kind of way.

The cava works miraculously: sweet enough to quell some of the chicken's salinity but with a quick, clean finish--no complexity for the Colonel to kill off. That's paired to original recipe. Versus honey mustard, globbed onto an order of boneless wings, the wine's natural sugar once again pulls tamer flavors to the fore, softening what is a rather clumsy sauce.

Not bad. Of course, against KFC's slaw, biscuits and so called mashed potatoes, it's another story. --Dave Faries

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