Pairing Off: Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Categories: Pairing Off
Patrick Michels/liza31337/protohiro
Chicken salad is of great cultural significance. Unlike omelets, which require a measure of creative destruction--can't make one 'without breaking a few eggs' speaks to enduring human progress, a can-do attitude, let's soldier on and get the job done, that sort of thing--the chicken salad idiom allows us room for laziness. It's impossible, as we all know, to create a decent version from a pile of chicken shit, right? Hey boss, it seems to say, I couldn't get it done because you failed to provide me with the right materials. It's a chance to slack off, take it easy, drop the ball and not worry about consequences.

So what's not to like about chicken salad? Take the day. Relax. Think about it over a bottle of...of...What the hell goes with a good old fashioned chicken salad sandwich?

Food writers dine out, oh, six nights a week, which means I finally ventured into this question on Monday. Unfortunately, a number of the city's retail wine experts routinely take the day off. It was, therefore, a regular old clerk at Goody Goody who directed me to Dry Creek's 2007 "Fume Blanc," (meaning dry Sauvignon Blanc), a chilled California varietal.

The wine disguises its true intentions, showing little on the nose but quick breathe of fruit then bursting with grapefruit (which lingers and condenses and coils into a candied residue), copper and some spice as you begin to sip.

So far, so good.

Against the sandwich, however, you realize Goody Goody's clerk took the easy way out. He recommended a nice, cheap, general purpose bottle instead of thinking through the ingredients and the way they might affect a wine. In other words, he figuratively shrugged and said 'can't make chicken salad...'

Yes, the wine developed a creamy mouth feel as it interacted with the sandwich. But that sweet-tangy copper background devolved into nickel--a sturdy, flat mineral character. A waifish vanilla wriggles into the picture, which is a plus. The chicken salad manages to absorb all that nice fruit, however, leaving only the bitterness of grapefruit behind.

Think I'll call for a do over. Or maybe find time on a day when the experts have clocked in.

On the other hand...

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