Teriyaki is a soy-based sauce that is sweetened with brown sugar, honey and seasoned with garlic and ginger. Teriyaki adds an incredible amount of flavour and stickiness to chicken and will pair well with light but fruit-forward red wines like Lambrusco, Schiava and Beaujolais, or white wines like Gewurztraminer, Riesling or Torrontés. While teriyaki is a dark sauce, chicken is a neutral white meat, so you don’t want a red wine that is too heavy, or a white wine which is bold as it will drown out any subtle poultry flavours that aren’t already drowned out by the Teriyaki sauce.
Off-Dry Riesling & Chicken Teriyaki Pairing
The brown sugar used Chicken Teriyaki makes the sauce savoury-sweet, and the residual sugar in an off-dry Riesling complements the sweeter notes while contrasting the ginger and garlic component. Meanwhile, the zesty citrus, pear and apricot flavours or Riesling elevate the chicken flavours even further. Bursting with acidity, Riesling can cut through the sticky Teriyaki Sauce and deliver the goods for a delicious finish. The acidity in Riesling also ensures your taste-buds are refreshed in between bites, otherwise, after a certain point, you’ll only taste the Teriyaki sauce and not the chicken.
An Off-Dry Riesling is perfect for Chicken Teriyaki either served as an Hors d’oeuvre, or perhaps at home where you might be enjoying a Chicken Teriyaki bowl (where the Chicken Teriyaki is served on top of a stirfry.) Riesling is an incredibly food-friendly wine so it will pair up with most foods thrown at it.
Lambrusco & Chicken Teriyaki Pairing
Teriyaki has a sweetness to it, but the dark sauce is also savoury and salty. Lambrusco is a red Italian wine (although Australia and Austria have been releasing their own versions) that is sweet, bubbly and fruity. The sweetness of Lambrusco complements brown sugar element in Teriyaki sauce, while the bubbles and fruitiness offer a nice counterpoint to savoury and saltiness of the sauce. With Chicken Teriyaki, I would suggest a Lambrusco di Sorbara which is the lightest style of Lambrusco as it will still allow you to taste those chicken flavours. With Lambrusco di Sorbara, expect some interesting notes of mandarin, cherry and violet.
Schiava & Chicken Teriyaki Pairing
Schiava is another Italian red wine (although you’ll find this wine in other countries, such as Germany where it’s called Trollinger) that has a fruit-forward character but remains light and elegant. Schiava tastes like roses, strawberry sauce, bubblegum and cotton candy, and these elements complement the sweetness of Teriyaki sauce and contrast the savoury and salty nature of the sauce as well. With all of that said, Schiava tends to be produced in a dry style, so while the wine tastes sweet, there isn’t necessarily a lot of residual sugar in the wine.
Schiava is a little harder to find, but is recommended for banquets, where you might have Chicken Teriyaki served on skewers as an Hors d’oeuvre. People are more receptive to unusual wines during a cocktail hour, and with its notes of cotton candy, roses and strawberry shortcake, Schiava will certainly give people something to talk about.
Gewürztraminer & Chicken Teriyaki Pairing
A semi-sweet Gewürztraminer complements the sweetness in the Teriyaki sauce, as does the oily texture of this white wine. Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine, featuring notes of lychee and roses. The wine is also a touch of ginger spiciness to it, which complements the ginger seasoning used in creating the Teriyaki.
Torrontés & Chicken Teriyaki Pairing
Torrontés is an aromatic white wine featuring sweet floral aromas of rose, along with flavours of peach and lemon. The light and breezy flavours of Torrontés dance nicely with the garlic and ginger flavours of the Teriyaki sauce..
Torrontés is often made in a dry style, meaning there is plenty of acidity to cope with the sticky Teriyaki sauce. Furthermore, the intensity of Chicken Teriyaki is at the right level, where it won’t overwhelm the delicate flavours and aromas of the wine.