Food pairing with Chenin Blanc

Published November 26th, 2022

Chenin Blanc is a white grape variety of French origin, commonly associated with the Loire Valley which remains its land of choice.

Food pairing with Chenin Blanc.

Chenin Blanc grape origins can be traced back to the ancient province of Anjou, with the first traces dating back to the 9th century. Small anecdote: the French writer Rabelais wrote about Chenin Blanc in his stories, as a wine with medicinal properties and one of the most popular ones in the 16th century.

This grape variety is famous for its profound versatility, a peculiar characteristic that makes it suitable for the production of different types of wines. It ranges from young dry whites, structured, for aging, up to sweet wines, in case the bunches are harvested late or attacked by Botrytis Cinerea. There are also some delicious classic method sparkling versions.

This makes food pairing with Chenin Blanc extremely varied and fun.

From fish to spicy food, from pork to cheese and dessert, Chenin Blanc makes a perfect wine partner to a huge variety of foods!

Here we will have a look at the main characteristics of the various wine styles and we’ll propose to you the best Chenin Blanc food pairings.

Food pairing with Chenin Blanc: the basics

Chenin blanc is often defined as "chameleonic," as it is capable of adapting and expressing itself well in very different climatic conditions and terroirs and of creating different styles of wine based on the production area and the winemaking techniques.

Dry wines from Chenin Blanc taste of white pulp fruit such as ripe apples, pear, citrus fruit, and herbs if coming from a cool climate area, like the Loire Valley in France. They are crisp, moderately alcoholic with excellent minerality and therefore they work delicously with seafood and shellfish, fatty fish, poultry, and veal.

The majority of the wines produced in the US, Argentina, or South Africa instead tend to be oaked and resemble Chardonnay, with a fuller body and tropical and stone fruit aromas as well as woody notes. These wines have enough structure to withstand the pairing with pork meat or intensely flavored cheeses.

But the most distinctive feature of Chenin Blanc is its high acidity which makes it perfect for producing perfectly balanced sweet or semi-sweet wines and to be paired with foods that contain a certain oiliness.

The sparkling versions, like the Cremant de Loire, are great with deep-fried fish and vegetables, while the off-dry wines, like the french Vouvray demi-sec, work well with sweet and sour recipes and spicy dishes, especially those of Asian cuisine.

Chenin Blanc vineyard.
Chenin Blanc vineyard

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Is Chenin Blanc dry or sweet?

It can be both, and even something in between. Indeed, it is impossible to define just one wine style for this grape variety. As mentioned, Chenin Blanc can be dry, off-dry, or sweet depending on the winemaking techniques used and on the desired style.

Chenin Blanc sparkling style

Chenin Blanc's versatility is so amazing that the grape can even produce excellent sparkling wines, both dry and off-dry. In the Loire Valley, the Cremant de Loire is the most popular example but sparkling Chenin Blanc is also made in South Africa. These are fresh wines with bright acidity and fresh aromas that are great partners for all shellfish and seafood dishes.

Top pairings for sparkling Chenin Blanc:

  • pan seared scallops

  • Valencay goat cheese

  • shrimp tempura

  • vegetable tempura

  • large prawns served with spicy sauces

  • shrimp scampi

  • oysters

  • shrimps Pad Thai (especially the off dry versions)

  • fish and chips

Fresh and fruity Chenin Blanc

Dry Chenin Blanc that are vinified and aged in steel tend to retain their fresh fruitiness, a lively acidic vein, and a distinctive minerality. They reveal sweet aromas of stone fruit, pear, and citrusy notes. This is normally the wine style you will find in the wines of the Loire Valley, but also in some examples from South Africa and US.

They pair exeptionally well with:

  • salads

  • veggie soups

  • Sushi

  • fish paté

  • soufflé

  • grilled or poached rainbow trout and salmon

  • Quiche Lorraine

  • Frog legs

Oaked, full-bodied Chenin Blanc

Most South African Chenin Blancs tend to be aged in oak and due to the warm climate, they aldo have a richer texture and are suited to more elaborate dishes and meats such as turkey and pork. These are wines reminiscent of wood-aged Chardonnays but with a slightly sweeter character and a more intense aromatic profile.

Best food pairings for this wine style are:

  • roast turkey

  • Chicken Alfredo

  • pork chops

  • roast guinea foul

  • osso buco

  • pork tenderloin

  • cheese fondue

  • Brie and Camembert

  • stuffed quail

Off-dry Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is a grape that lends itself very well to the production of both sweet and semi-sweet wines. Its aromaticity makes its wines pleasant, food-friendly, and captivating. Its sugary richness and high acidity create the perfect balance in wines and the typical notes of ginger and jasmine make them perfect as an accompaniment to the sweet and sour and spicy flavors of Asian cuisine. The most famous wines in this style are certainly the Vouvrays from the Loire Valley.

Try these options for chenin blanc food pairing with off dry wines:

  • glazed pork ham

  • Pad Thai

  • butternut squash soup

  • Peking duck

  • gingered ham

  • orange beef

  • Taleggio and Raclette cheeses

  • vegetarian curries

  • Vietnamese and Mexican cuisines

  • lemon meringue pie

Sweet Chenin Blanc

Some of the best wines from Chenin Blanc are sweet or botrytized. The famous Vouvray, Bonnezeaux, and Quarts de Chaume are produced in the Loire Valley, where the autumn mists create the ideal conditions for the development of noble rot, with its typical aromas. These wines are similar to Sauternes but lighter with intense aromas of orange blossom and tropical flavors, a pronounced syrupiness, and excellent aging potential. High-quality Chenin Blanc sweet wines are also produced in South Africa.

Here is a selection of dishes for a luscious Chenin Blanc wine pairing:

  • pumpkin pie

  • Pecorino, Gorgonzola or Roquefort

  • apricot tart

  • tarte tatin

  • foie gras

  • pear crumble

Chenin Blanc fish pairing.

Chenin Blanc fish pairing

Chenin Blanc food match with fish is a classic and one you can never go wrong with. Thanks to its delicacy and sweet aromaticity, Chenin Blanc wines can balance the gentle flavors of fish without overpowering them.

The sparkling versions are perfect with fish and chips and other deep-fried recipes.

The unoaked Chenin Blanc with their zesty notes and crispy character are ideal with grilled fish, fish soups, and shellfish.

The oaked versions (better if gently oaked) can pair well with fattier fishes like salmon and trout or those recipes including creamy sauces.

Our suggestion: Ironstone Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc pork and ham pairing.

Chenin Blanc pork and ham pairing

The medium body and good acidity of Chenin Blanc make it a perfect accompaniment to pork. South African wood-aged wines also have the necessary structure to support the texture of the meat.

While the residual sugars of off-dry wines can enhance the sweet notes of glazed pork ham.

Our suggestion: Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc chicken and turkey

Chicken and turkey are white and lean meats that always prefer to be paired with white wine. Depending on the preparation your Chenin blanc pairing will take a slightly different turn. A younger and fresher wine will probably work better with chicken salads or recipes including grilled chicken. While a roast turkey or a Chicken Alfredo will find more balance in pairing with an oaked wine.

Our suggestion: Saumur Chenin Blanc "L’Insolite", Domaine des Roches-Neuves

Chenin Blanc cheese pairing - Domaine Huet Le Mont Moelleux Premier Trie.

Chenin Blanc cheese pairing

The thousand faces of Chenin Blanc offer great versatility in cheese pairing. Indeed, young Chenin Blanc has the right minerality and acidity to withstand goat cheese.

Oaked Chenin Blanc can be paired with semi-soft and characterful cheeses like Brie and Camembert.

And for everything else like pungent and blue cheeses, there is plenty of choice among off-dry and sweet wines from the Loire!

Our suggestion: Domaine Huet Le Mont Moelleux Premier Trie

Chenin Blanc and spicy food

Like all aromatic wines, Chenin Blanc is the perfect choice for Asian cuisine. Not only do the sweet and sour flavors go well with the sweet fruit and spicy aromas typical of this wine, but the off-dry Chenin Blancs have sufficient residual sugar to balance and enhance the spiciness of some recipes such as Pad Thai or curry.

Our suggestion: Vincent Raimbault Vouvray Demi-Sec Les Terrages


It should be clear by now that few wines can beat the great versatility of Chenin Blanc. From dry and semi-dry sparkling wines to fresh and fruity young ones, from opulent, and sweet to rich and full-bodied and oaked, this grape shows everyone its many facets so that food pairing with Chenin Blanc offers endless options.

It’s all a matter of taste and experimenting!

Which pairing are you going to try today?

Photo credits: Megan Cole, NWongPR, Bernard Dupont