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June, 2021

certified sustainable vineyard tasting


If sustainability is important to you, you should know that many California wineries and vineyards are Certified Sustainable. Their practices may not be obvious to the eye when you visit, but these businesses are taking steps to save energy and water, and to farm in a way that’s good for the planet and for people. A third-party audit confirms what they do, so you can feel good about spending your wine dollars on businesses committed to a more sustainable future. 

Click here for more reasons to love California wine country this summer!

The Pour

The charred flavor of grilled chicken works best with red wine, and preferably a younger one. If you’re eating outdoors, the delicate aromas of an older wine might be diminished, so choose something fresh and fruity.

California winemakers produce Pinot Noir in a range of styles from bright and light, with cherry and raspberry aromas, to brooding and smoky. Look for a lighter-styled version from a cooler region, such as Anderson Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains or Los Carneros. A medium-bodied Merlot, which has softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, is another good option with this dish. Ask your merchant for a cool-climate bottling; the Oak Knoll District is one place to look. 

Meet the Grapes: Explore more wine pairings.

The Recipe

Grilled Five-Spice Chicken with Cucumber Peanut Salad

Vietnamese chefs introduced Californians to the delights of five-spice chicken, and the dish is now entrenched in the Golden State repertoire. A cool, crunchy, lime-laced cucumber salad provides a refreshing contrast to the highly seasoned chicken. The marinade makes the chicken skin extra-crisp and tasty, so purchase skin-on thighs if possible.  

Wine suggestion: California Merlot or California Pinot Noir

Summer Grilled Five-Spice Chicken with Cucumber Peanut Salad



  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce  
  • ¼ teaspoon five-spice powder 
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, about 1-1/2 pounds (680 g)

Cucumber Peanut Salad 

  • 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated 
  • ½ small sweet red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice with some pulp 
  • 2 tablespoons water 
  • 1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce  
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced 
  • ½ small jalapeño chili, minced (remove seeds first, if desired) 
  • ¼ cup (10 g) coarsely chopped cilantro 
  • ¼ cup (30 g) chopped roasted unsalted peanuts  
  • Lime wedges 

Serves 4


Prepare the marinade: Combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, five-spice powder, garlic, shallot, and sugar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Put the chicken thighs in a glass baking dish or other container just large enough to hold them. Pour the marinade over the thighs and turn them to coat all over. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, turning once halfway through. 

 Prepare the cucumber salad: Put the cucumber, carrot, and onion in a bowl and toss gently to mix. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, water, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and chili. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, then pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Add the cilantro and peanuts and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. 

 Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place skin side down on the grill. Brush the flesh side with any marinade in the baking dish. Cook on both sides until the skin has browned and crisped and the chicken juices run clear, not pink, when probed at the bone, about 20 minutes.  

 Divide the cucumber salad and the chicken among 4 dinner plates. Garnish with lime wedges. 

Wine Institute is an association of California wineries and affiliated businesses from the beautiful and diverse wine regions throughout the state. Wine Institute works to create an environment where the wine community can flourish and contribute in a positive fashion to our nation, state and local communities. For information please contact