Red or white with chicken?
Chambolle-Musigny One of the most obvious exceptions to the traditional rule about "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat" is roast chicken, indisputably a "white meat" but one that, in my opinion, works just as well and perhaps even better with red wine than white.

Having a guest in for dinner the other night gave us a good excuse to open a couple of bottles of wine and put the conventional wisdom to a tasty test:

Mugneret 1991 Chambolle-Musigny Les Feusselottes ($24.99)
Very dark ruby, with ripe black-cherry aromas and a big, chewy, black-fruit flavor framed by lemony acidity and surprisingly firm tannins. Big for a Burgundy and youthful for a '91, it's a real value for the genre, especially at this local sale price. U.S. importer: Willett Distributing Co., Alexandria, Ky. (Oct. 22, 1999)

Glen Carlou Glen Carlou 1998 Paarl (South Africa) Chardonnay ($13.99)
Clear, bright straw color, with tempting aromas of apples and hazelnuts with a whiff of caramel and a glimpse of oak. Crisp and fresh, apple fruit with spicy nuances that follow the nose; ripe fruit and relatively restrained oak, although the woody vanillins do become a bit more evident with time in the glass. U.S. importer: The Hess Collection New World Wines, Napa, Calif. (Oct. 22, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Both wines work very well with an Asian-accented roast chicken (butterflied, briefly marinated in peanut oil and dark soy sauce and dusted with "five spice," salt and black pepper, and roasted at 450F for 45 minutes, basting occasionally), but each works in a different way.

The South African Chardonnay's tart fruit seemed to "cleanse" the palate effectively after a bite of chicken, but I prefer the way the Burgundy works: The wine seemed to add to and expand the flavors of the chicken and its aromatic spices, creating a synergy that's not evident with the white.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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