A Chef's Go-To Wine, Beer, And Cocktail To Serve With Chicken Piccata

Chicken piccata is one of those well-rounded dishes that's both easy to make at home and a common sight at Italian restaurants. The chicken cutlet and lemon sauce is often served with a basic pasta or rice, but you should be more deliberate about what you drink with it — so we consulted an expert for drink pairing advice. Chef and restaurateur Joe Isidori, who runs Arthur & Sons in New York's West Village and the Hamptons as well as Arthur & Sons Italian American Club, answered Chowhound's questions about the best beer, wine, and cocktail to pair with the dish.


According to Isidori, when pairing drinks with chicken piccata, you've got to focus on the key ingredients in the sauce: lemon, capers, and butter. Isidori said, "Certain drinks pair well with one or all of those characteristics, and it's all about striking a balance so that the flavors aren't fighting each other."  

Light wines go with light dishes

Starting with wine, Joe Isidori's first choice is a light and crisp pinot grigio, a popular white wine which he calls a classic pairing for chicken piccata. "Its subtle fruitiness and refreshing acidity complement the dish's tangy lemon sauce and briny capers, providing balance," Isidori explained. Pinot grigio is considered a light-bodied white wine, which means it has a lower alcohol content. (This is usually considered to be 12.5% alcohol-by-volume or less, although it can vary by brand). When it comes to pairing light-bodied wine with food, like goes with like. A lighter meat like chicken is considered a great choice for a subtler wine like a pinot grigio, alongside salads and seafood.


Another great white wine and chicken piccata pairing is sauvignon blanc. Like pinot grigio, this option is has a lower alcohol content, but sauvignon blanc is better if you'd prefer a wine with notes of citrus and herbs. According to Isidori, "Its bright acidity and grassy minerality enhance the flavors of the chicken piccata and add more depth." Sauvignon blanc is also considered a light-bodied wine. It tends to taste bolder, but it still pairs well with chicken when the sauce is bold enough to match as it is in chicken piccata. 

Pairing lemon chicken and mango beer

When it comes to beer, the conversation comes back to fruitiness. Beers don't tend to be as fruit-forward as wine, relying on grains and hops instead of grapes, so you need to dive into more specific, fruity beers. In this case, Joe Isidori recommends Golden Road Brewing's Mango Cart. Mango Cart is a popular wheat ale from the Los Angeles-based brewery. Spicy and non-alcoholic versions of the beer are also available if you're so inclined. Golden Road Brewing promotes using the beer for micheladas (which is perhaps why it comes in a spicier variant), but it works perfectly with tart, salty piccata sauce.


"[Mango Cart's] vibrant mango flavor not only complements the tangy lemon and salty capers but also adds a touch of sweetness that balances the dish's acidity," Isidori said. "The beer's bright punch harmonizes with this lemony dish, making for a refreshing, flavorful, and more unusual pairing." Wheat ales tend to be smoother in texture and less carbonated than other beers, which makes them flexible choices for pairing with foods. They work especially well with other fruit flavors like lemon and lighter foods like chicken.

Mixing sweet limoncello with sour lemon juice

Depending on how late in the evening you're having dinner, maybe you want a stronger drink with your chicken piccata. For cocktails, Joe Isidori suggests a limoncello spritz, an Italian cocktail made with prosecco, club soda, and limoncello lemon liqueur, served over ice. While you can buy limoncello pre-made, it's also easy enough to mix yourself using vodka, lemons, and sugar.


It may not be surprising that lemon liqueur mixes well with lemony chicken piccata, but the flavor profile of limoncello isn't actually that sour. Instead, it's got a sweet, very bright taste. "Unlike lemon juice, which can be tart and acidic, limoncello's sweeter lemony profile, derived from the zest rather than the juice of lemons, offers a balanced sweetness that complements the savory elements of the chicken piccata," Isidori said. The drink pairs well with the dish's buttery lemon sauce and briny capers, and the end result is a flavor profile that's well-rounded, with all the ingredients mixing together cleanly without competing with each other. 

No matter whether your beverage of choice is wine, beer, or a sweet cocktail, choosing your pairing carefully will bring out the best in both your dish and your drink.