Food and Wine Pairing: Chicken Marsala and Rkatsiteli

cast iron pan with chicken marsala

Every so often, you have a meal that just hits right. You may not have prepared or plated it perfectly, but it’s the most satisfying meal in your recent memory. That’s what I want the Food and Wine Pairing blog posts to be about; the pairing doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, it just has to hit right.

The other evening at Bremer’s Wine and Liquor, we had a tasting from the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery in Hammondsport, NY. I was looking forward to trying their Cabernet Franc because I love a dry red, but I had also chosen one of my favorite New York State wines of all time – Rkatsiteli – to be sampled because I knew that once people learned a little about it and tried it, they’d be as hooked as I am.

On a whim, I decided to bring home a bottle of Rkatsiteli to enjoy with the chicken Marsala I was going to make, not thinking of anything past a nice, dry white to go with chicken. We closed at 8 and I made my way home, greeted my dog, popped the wine in the fridge, and turned on Netflix for the Korean revenge drama I was in the midst of. After a few minutes, I got cooking.

I cooked the chicken a little too long, and the sauce didn’t thicken like I wanted it to, but hey, it was after 9 at night so I wasn’t going to beat myself up. I made a plate and poured a glass of cool Rkatsiteli, and I was in home-cook heaven. Despite the nitpicky imperfections with the chicken dish, it tasted so good, and somehow I managed to choose a wine that was, to me, a perfect compliment.

Rkatsiteli is one of the oldest known varietals and is popular in Eastern Europe, although not very common in the United States. And, here’s a Fun Fact: my first holiday season working here, I had a customer who was an American doing research in the Republic of Georgia, where this grape was developed; he told me that Dr. Frank’s Rkatsiteli is better than the Rkatsiteli available in the Republic of Georgia. (So, take THAT, ancient grape!)

I am no wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but I found it to be citrusy (but not as citrusy as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) and acidic, just like I remembered, and was a perfect balance to the thyme, mushrooms, and Marsala sauce (the chicken was good, too, but it’s – you know – chicken). It’s also a very light wine, which worked because I had the chicken over mashed potatoes, and we all know those are anything but light!

So, I want to know – what food and drink pairings do you like? Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? Email with your food and wine (or cocktail) pairing and we’ll blog it (just make a note if you’d like to remain anonymous).

You can get Rkatsiteli here, and my two go-to recipes for chicken Marsala are from Eating Well and Spend with Pennies.

Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Rkatsiteli: pairs well with chicken Marsala, potatoes, Korean revenge dramas