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Pairing Wine With Chicken Shawarma

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Shawarma is a delicious marinated meat dish, originating from the Ottoman Empire. It is commonly associated with Turkish, Palestinian or Lebanese cuisine, but these days, you can find it anywhere in the world.

Before cooking, the chicken is marinated in a medley of spices, including but not limited to paprika, cinnamon, cardamom and cumin. It is often served with some carbohydrates, be it pitta bread, rice or fries, and is usually accompanied by some sauce and salad. Lighter-bodied wines will suit this (often spicy) dish better. High acids and sharp, tart flavors will be perfect for taming the spice, fat and carbohydrates, while also meshing with the accompanying salad. 

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Chicken Shawarma

Characteristic Detail
Sweetness Dry to Sweet
Acidity High
Tannins Smooth
Body Light to Medium
Tasting Notes Lemon, lime and bright vegetal notes, or light red fruits with high acidity and refreshing tartness.

Chicken shawarma is essentially a light, playful and crunchy dish, so it’s best to avoid bold wines. They run the risk of making the entire experience too heavy. Your pairing can range from dry to sweet, depending on the sauce used in the dish – garlic sauce, for example, will work a lot better with a tart wine. Wines with a bright, refreshing character are the way to go, with elements of citrus or light red fruits. 

Best Red Wine To Drink With Chicken Shawarma

White wine will certainly be the more popular choice for enhancing a chicken shawarma dish, but there are a couple of red options too, ranging from light red to rosé. It’s worth keeping an eye out for wines from around the Mediterranean, for that perfect regional pairing.


Our main red wine suggestion is Xinomavro – in particular, a light one, if you can find it. This grape comes from Greece, so it’s a brilliant regional pairing, packed with flavors of sour cherry and baking spice. A light, crunchy iteration will come with high acidity for cutting through the fat and carbohydrates, while the wine’s spicy side will mingle beautifully with the marinated meat. Xinomavro can also be found in rosé form, or even in sparkling form, so it can be a very diverse choice.


There is a lot of rosé in this world, but it’s safe to say that most of them bring a light, refreshing and fruity character to the table. That’s exactly what you want with chicken shawarma – tart and juicy red fruits, with a hint of spice. Xinomavro rosé, a classy Provençal blend, or even a cheap and cheerful white Zinfandel would all be great options.

Best White Wine To Drink With Chicken Shawarma

For the ultimate chicken shawarma dining experience, the general consensus is that white is the best choice. It offers zesty, palate-cleansing fruits, and won’t get in the way of the wonderful flavors you can find in this Middle Eastern dish.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a playful varietal, with enough vegetal/herbaceous notes to mesh with the greens in chicken shawarma, and enough lip-smacking acidic character to stand up to the carbs and spices. This wine is also usually quite tart, so whichever sauce your dish is finished with, Sauvignon Blanc is a safe choice.


Riesling can be dry or sweet, and both forms have the potential to be a brilliant pairing for chicken shawarma. If you want to tame the spice in the meat or the sauce, sweet Riesling is a great option. However, if you topped off your shawarma with something creamy and slightly sweet, like garlic sauce or hummus, dry Riesling will be a better match. Other than that, Riesling is an excellent match for chicken, with its high acidity and intense citrus and stone fruit flavors.


This Spanish varietal is essentially the king of crisp, refreshing white wine. It usually pairs well with seafood, but it will also work remarkably well with chicken shawarma. It will provide a bright contrast to the complicated spice flavors, and supply you with enough acidity to cut through the fat and carbohydrates in this dish.

Best Wine To Drink With Chicken Shawarma

Whether you’ve just bought some chicken shawarma home from a fast-food joint, or you’re showing off your cooking skills to your friends, this dish is always going to taste better with a glass of wine. White, light and zesty is the best route, but there are also some solid red or pink options for those who adore red fruit flavors.   

  • Albariño
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Rosé
  • Riesling
  • Xinomavro