The number one question people have when it comes to making coq au vin is “what wine should I use?” My first answer to that is “use a wine that you like because you’re using only 2 cups and it would be a shame to pour the rest of the bottle away.” 😉 All joking aside, it is important to use a wine that you like. If you don’t like the flavor of the wine (or any ingredient for that matter), why would you put it in your food? If you’re like me, however, that answer doesn’t really narrow down the options. So, the next thing to consider when choosing your wine is where the dish originated. Coq au vin is a classic dish from Burgundy, so it makes sense to go with a Burgundian wine. The most common red varietal from Burgundy is Pinot Noir, so that is one option. The challenge with using Pinot Noir is that good Pinot Noirs tend to come at a price that makes you wish you were pouring it into a glass, rather than a Dutch oven (which would make it a perfect bottle to have with coq au vin). So, you could widen the origin and think about a French wine instead of specifically Burgundian. Pick a medium-bodied red wine like Merlot or Carménère or Cabernet Franc, or go a little deeper and pick a solid Cabernet Sauvignon. Really… just pick a wine that you like.
Remember, preliminary browning is important to good braising, so don’t cheat on the step of browning the chicken. Getting good color on the chicken not only makes it look more presentable, but gives the entire dish better flavor. You can read more about how to braise in the cooking school here.