DICK ROSANO The right wine to pair with a dish is one that highlights the core flavors of the recipe.
Oven-Braised Chicken With Leeks and Dill has four core flavors: the leeks (something of a cross between garlic and onion, though milder than both), dill, heavy cream and chicken. The recipe calls for chicken thighs. Dark meat is higher in fat and requires more substance in the wine than light meat.
The right wine would be light-bodied with bold flavors -- a wine that could stand up to a dish with oniony flavors, the depth of a cream sauce and a touch of dill. You would begin with white wines, reading reviews about them and asking people you trust in the wine stores and elsewhere. You are looking for wines with grapefruit, pear, cream and herbal flavors. One good place to find them is in the Rhone Valley, where white wines are commonly made to accompany just this type of cuisine. The Marsanne grape, herbal and steely at the same time, is forward in fruit yet subtle enough to add something extra to the dish.
My pick would be Chateau Grande Cassagne 2004 Costieres de Nimes ($8), Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2003 ($11) or Granges des Rouquette Marsanne Viognier 2004 ($10). All combine a light fruity personality with fairly assertive flavors. They can stand up the dish, and yet add another dimension. These wines -- or others based on the Marsanne grape -- have the added advantage of serving well as aperitifs.
Dick Rosano, author of "Wine Heritage, The Story of Italian-American Vintners" (Wine Appreciation Guild), teaches wine and food pairing at L'Academie de Cuisine. His pairings will appear on this page monthly with Entertaining.