Originally from Rhône, a region in France, viognier grapes are relatively rare. In the 1960’s, the grape was near extinction, until it was planted in California. Although demand has slowed since the 1990’s, in 1998, the viognier varietal was grown in more than 1000 acres. Currently, there are fewer than 300 acres of viognier grapes in Rhône, but it is being grown in parts of the world such as the aforementioned California, Washington, Virginia, Chile, and Australia. Viognier is a full-bodied white wine, and while its aromas and flavors are often considered sweet, it is more of a dry wine. The biggest and most common aromas and flavors that come through in Viognier wine are honeysuckle, peach, tangerine, rose, and apricot. Because viognier grapes don’t contain much acidity, they are better if grown in a cooler climate so that acidity is retained. It’s a crisp, textured wine that is so enjoyable you’ll be on glass #2 in no time.
Food it pairs well with: Shellfish; Bass; Halibut; Chicken; Indian Curries; Fondue; Fruit Salsas
Recommended Recipe: Macadamia Chicken with Orange-Ginger sauce and Coconut Pilaf from MyRecipes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup finely chopped roasted, salted macadamia nuts* (about 4 oz.)
- 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or other fine dried bread crumbs
- 4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (each 6 to 7 oz.)
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- About 2 tbsp. butter
- About 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup chopped shallots
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Viognier or other dry white wine
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice* (from about 2 oranges)
- Coconut Pilaf
How to make:
- Preheat oven to 375°. Put flour and coconut milk in separate wide, shallow bowls. In another bowl, mix nuts and panko. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
- Put 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess; dip into coconut milk, letting excess drip off; then press into nut mixture to coat on all sides. Reserve coconut milk. Lay chicken in frying pan in a single layer and cook until golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. With a spatula, turn pieces (taking care not to break off nut coating) and brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to a baking pan and bake until no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wipe any scorched nuts from pan with a paper towel. If pan is dry, add 1 tbsp. each butter and olive oil, then shallots, ginger, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour in broth, wine, and orange juice. Boil until liquid is reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Pour mixture into a blender and, holding lid down tightly with a towel, whirl until very smooth. Return sauce to frying pan and add 1/4 cup reserved coconut milk (discard remainder) and salt and pepper to taste; stir over low heat until hot, then pour into a small bowl.
- Spoon Coconut Pilaf onto plates, top with chicken, and serve with sauce.
Recommended CO Wines: Wild Women Wine Viognier; BookCliff Vineyards Viognier; Kingman Viognier; Avanti Viognier