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Pairing Wine With Kung Pao Chicken

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Kung Pao Chicken is not a traditional Chicken recipe, and for this reason the pairing is not a simple matter. Let’s start from the beginning. This stir-fried chicken was created in the late 19th century, and since then has been converted into a signature dish of Chinese – Sichuan cuisine. The chicken requires time to marinate, so it can soak up all the flavours from the soy sauce, the mixture of spices, pepper, garlic, sugar and more. Everyone has their own recipe! Pairing the perfect wine to balance all the ingredients and in turn create a nice dining experience is a delicate matter. 

In this dish we have many components: the sweetness, umami and the spiciness. To create a balance with them we should opt for white wines which have some residual sugar, such as German Riesling or Pinot Gris from France. The spiciness and the aromatic characteristics of a Gewürztraminer will then match the characteristics of the dish, and complete it rather than compete with it. For red wine lovers, choosing a fruit forward red wine with low tannins, such as Pinot Noir or a Gamay from Beaujolais can be a good choice.

Pairing Wine With Kung Pao Chicken

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Kung Pao Chicken

Characteristic Detail
Sweetness Off-Dry whites, Dry reds
Acidity High
Tannins Low
Body Medium to full Bodied White, Light Reds
Tasting Notes Peach, Citrus fruits, Almonds, Apple, Lychee, Red Fruits, Black Fruits, Rose, Violet

Best Red Wine To Drink With Kung Pao Chicken

A dry, low alcohol, red with light tannins would help to soothe the hot sensation from the spiciness of the food, leading you to a finer and more delicate dining experience. Moreover, choose a fruit-forward wine with at most medium body.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir has everything we need to pair well with Kung Pao Chicken: low alcohol, medium body, fruit-forward with aromas of black and red fruits and low tannins. A hint of spiciness can derive from aging in small oak; this will enhance the spicy sensations of the dish creating a perfect balance. 


Another good option is a Gamay, the grape variety which has its base in France. Similar to Pinot Noir with the same characteristics, but usually more affordable in price! Depending on the winemaking techniques, it can have fresh aromas of red fruits such as strawberry, or juicy black fruits aromas such as blackberries. This wine maintains the low tannin level trend. 


Grenache – or Garnacha if it comes from Spain – is a grape variety which usually produces wines with low levels of tannins and color, but it can have high alcohol content. The Grenache can be a useful ally to pair with thanks to its spicy characteristics, together with the abundance of cherries and raspberries aromas.

Best White Wine To Drink With Kung Pao Chicken

The main characteristic of the wine that we should consider to create a nice dining experience is the sweetness. Some residual sugar (off-dry wines) is required and needed to mitigate the spiciness found in the dish. High acidity is also required to perfectly balance with all the other characteristics. 


German, France, Austrian or even new world Riesling are good options; the essential is the residual sugar. Riesling is very versatile and can come in a wide range of options. Off-dry versions are the most popular to pair with this dish. In fact, natural high acidity balances the residual sugar, creating a perfect balance with the complexity of the dish. 

Pinot Gris

French versions (mainly in Alsace) of this grape variety are off-dry. And with natural high acidity. Again, it is what we need in this dish to enhance its characteristics. Aromas of peach, citrus fruits, melon and almonds can also play with the peanuts found in the dish.


For a more “exotic” combination with the dish, we should call a Gewürztraminer. Versions with residual sugar are what we need. Gewürztraminer has a low-medium acidity but it has the plus of being an aromatic grape variety. In fact, its spicy, gingery aromas enhance the spicy sensation of the dish. 

Best Wine To Drink With Kung Pao Chicken

  • Pinot Noir
  • Gamay
  • Grenache
  • Riesling
  • Pinot Gris
  • Gewurztraminer