With the colder months comes the hunting season, and game features as a key ingredient of many a winter dish. Boar, woodcock, pheasant, hare, partridge, wild duck, and venison all make for a hearty meal on a chilly evening. But what kind of wine should you pair with these succulent and gastronomic meals?
What exactly do we mean by game?
‘Wild mammals or birds hunted for sport or food’. Some are feathered, others are furry, and they each have a distinctive taste to be enjoyed. There is something they have in common, though, that will help us with our wine choices: game meat has firm flesh and a strong taste to it. They are often marinated to soften them a bit, as well as being roasted in the oven, both delicious ways to prepare a nourishing meal.
What should we drink with this kind of meat?
Quite simply, you should uncork a red. Although we have a surprise idea for you at the end of the article.
More supple and delicate reds, or mature vintages, should be served with birds like quail, pheasant, thrush, wood pigeon, wild duck or woodcock. Powerful wines will pair better with tougher game like boar and venison.
To please everyone, a 5–10-year-old Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône is a safe bet.
We would recommend Maison Guigal and its 2014, Clos du Mont-Olivet 2012 or a Clos des Papes 2014.
When organising a banquet, opt for a magnum of Cornas Brise Cailloux 2015 from Domaine du Coulet or for a special occasion a La Chapelle 2006 by Paul Jaboulet Ainé.
Fit for a feast (without breaking the bank), you can count on Faugères 2016 from Clos Fantine, Violette 2014 from Clau de Nell and even a Haut-Carles 2014.
To bring a bit of sunshine to the table, why not go for a Languedoc wine such as a Corbières, a Costières-de-Nîmes, or a Fitou.
If you want to be a bit different, a Chinon, a Bourgueil, (both from the Loire), a Beaujolais cru such as Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent, or maybe a southern Cahors would work with game.
And we did promise you a surprise. So if you want to cause a stir without losing all credibility, we recommend these white wines: if you’re serving hare, try a Pinot Gris or a dry Gewurztraminer. With partridge, you could uncork a Meursault. And if you’ve made a dish using wild duck, you might want to pair it with a vin jaune! Trust us on this one…
So, when’s dinner ready?