Food & Wine Pairing: Chicken Fried Steak

Food & Wine Pairing: Chicken Fried Steak

Today I have another food and wine pairing for you. Suzanne, who writes an excellent food blog, gave me her recipe for Chicken Fried Steak, which was one of my favorite dishes during my time in Houston, TX. At first glance, Chicken Fried Steak does not really call for wine.Ice-cold beer, soft drinks and ice tea are probably the true Texan pairings with this dish. I have to admit, that pairing Chicken Fried Steak with wine was quite a challenge but I like challenges so I gave it some thoughts.

With Chicken Fried Steak we want a medium-bodied red wine with a moderate acidity. Why? The wine should have soft tannins and a good structure. Further more, we want an old-world wine because, from my experience, the new-world “fruit bombs” do not pair well with many dishes.

So what choices are there? An aged French Syrah would work but my choice was a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Tenuta Torre Raone.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Montepulciano is a native Italian grape that is mostly grown in the regions Abruzzo and Marche. A variety of DOC & DOCG wines are produced with Montepulciano. With the most famous appellation being Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG. The Marche are famous for Rosso Conero DOC. The grape pairs well with a variety of meat.

The grape has nothing but the name in common with the Tuscan wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. Vino Nobile is produced with 100% Sangiovese. Please do not confuse the two.

Montepulciano ripens late and is therefore rarely planted in northern Italy. If produced right, Montepulciano wines are known for its rich bouquet, deep color and excellent structure. These are exactly the characteristics we are looking for.

2008 Tenuta Torre Raone – San Zopito – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC

Tenuta Torre Raone - San Zopito - Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCThe Montepulciano that I paired with Suzanne’s Chicken Fried Steak comes from organic winery Tenuta Torre Raone. This small winery, cultivates 30 hectares (75 acres) of vine and 3 hectares (7.5 acres) of olives. Torre Raone manufactures four red and four white wines. Their flaghsip wine is the San Zopito, which has, according to Wine Searcher, an average retail price of 15€ excluding tax and shipping.

San Zopito is produced with 100% Montepulciano grapes. The wine aged 18 months in French barriques. In the glass, San Zopito had a deep, garnet red color with light ruby red shades. The bouquet was very harmonious and of great balance. There was black fruit (ripe cherry, blackcurrant, blackberries), rosemary, viola, licorice, and some spices (vanilla, cocoa, black pepper, cinnamon). The oak notes did not dominate the wine. In the mouth, San Zopito was very dry and warm. The wine had silky, pleasing tannins and a medium body (almost full-bodied). I tasted cocoa as well as black and red fruits. Pretty well-balanced. The acidity was moderate. San Zopito had a lingering aftertaste.

4 / 5 stars      

Parting words

The San Zopito turned out to be an excellent choice. Here in Germany, Chicken Fried Steak, is not known at all but my guests all enjoyed it. I want to thank Suzanne once again for sharing her recipe with me. You can find it below. I strongly recommend that you follow her blog.

Suzanne's Chicken Fried Steak Recipe Show

If you are looking for a quality Montepulciano d’Abruzzo but don’t want to rob a bank for an Agriverde Plateo then San Zopito from Torre Raone is a great choice. I have previously tried (and reviewed) the 2007 vintage of the San Zopito, which convinced me, too.

As usual, if you have tried the San Zopito, let me know how you like it.

You might also enjoy reading:

2006 Trabucchi d'Illasi - Recioto - Recioto di SoaveDessert and wine pairing suggestions
Every since their existence, desserts have been used to celebrate birthdays, weddings and other special occasions. In many countries, desserts get also served after dinner. If you are the host of a such a dinner then you have to ask yourself: “What wine should I pair with the dessert?” Should you pick a wine at all or is it better to go with something else? It is said that desserts are the most difficult to pair with wine. This guide will help you to make the right choices.  But remember, these are general rules and there are always exceptions. The guide will focus mostly on recommendations for traditional Italian desserts.


21 comments on “Food & Wine Pairing: Chicken Fried Steak”

  1. Suzanne Reply

    Thank you for making my recipe and I am so happy you enjoyed. Living in Houston at one time also, I had a lot of chicken fried steak and chicken fried chicken. You paired with my favorite wine a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo I always keep at least 2 bottles in my wine all times. Now I am going to have to make the recipe and have with my favorite wine. Thanks so much Julian.

    • vino in love Reply


      Thank you for sharing the recipe! This was a wonderful pairing. Chicken fried chicken was almost even more popular around my family & friends during my Houston time! Everything “fried” is popular in Texas 🙂

  2. wineking3 wineking3 Reply

    Good job, Julian. Great match. Montepulciano is among my favorite italian grapes. Haven’t paired it with chicken fried steak yet but might try so in the future. i don’t really eat that often. Not that common down here.
    The 15€ for the San Zopito seems to be an amazing QPR or not?

    • vino in love Reply


      Thanks for stopping by! Indeed 15€ is a pretty good price. I paid 21€ in Munich, which I still consider a pretty good quality-price ratio. Let me know how you like the wine if you try it.

  3. Sean P. Reply

    Uh never ate this before. Both, the dish and the wine, are now on my “to-try” list 😀

  4. foodwine88 Reply

    Great pairing. Wine doesn’t cross my mind usually when I think about chicken fried steak but sweet ice tea does! I’ll give this pairing a go in the next weeks.
    I’ve followed Suzanne’s blog for quite a while now and absolutely love it. One of my favorite cooking blogs. So glad you did a wine pairing with one of her recipes!

    • vino in love Reply

      I agree that wine is not the first drink that one associates with chicken fried steak, however, Montepulciano pairs very well with it. Trust me!

  5. hannah-theis hannah-theis Reply

    Before moving to Canada a few years ago, I lived in Louisiana and one of my favorite dishes there was chicken fried steak with white gravy and beans. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the wine recommendation that goes along with it!

  6. winetalks winetalks Reply

    Ever since my trip to Abruzzo, Montepulciano has become one of my all-time favorites. I LOVE the complexity of the wine.
    Makes perfect sense to me to pair chicken fried steak with Montepulciano 🙂 Well done, Julian!

    • vino in love Reply

      Thanks again for your awesome guest post about Abruzzo! Absolutely love the wines from Abruzzo. Have you tried white Pecorino from Abruzzo before?

  7. drinkforlife Reply

    Who would have thought that it’s possible to pair wine with this! Never crossed my mind to open a bottle of precious wine with chicken fried steak but maybe I should give the pairing a try 😛

  8. armchairsommelier Reply

    I love Southern food! The Montepulciano is an intriguing choice. Will have to test that one! :o) I see the word “fried”, and my pairing brain automatically jumps to Bubbles. How do you think that would work with the Chicken Fried Steak? Salud!

    • vino in love Reply

      Southern Food is so tasty! Bubbles could work, too but honestly I think that pairing fried food with bubbles is an American phenomenon. in Europe it’s less common to pair fried food with bubbles. Lots of New World red wines are “fruit bombs” and therefore don’t pair well with food. Next time you prepare something fried, you could try to pair that with a an aged Old World red wine instead of pairing it with bubbles 🙂

  9. Marco van Puff Reply

    Nice review! Absolutely love chicken fried steak 😀
    Will have to try this pairing out because Montepulciano is among my three favorite Italian wines!

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