Bring out the flavours with carefully selected wines advises our expert Harry Fawkes of Decanter magazine
Cooking and serving game or venison you’ve shot yourself is one of a shoot day’s rewarding highlights. More and more cookery schools are offering game cookery courses to help you discover new dishes and update your culinary skills. And when you’re back from the riverbank, presenting guests with freshly caught salmon or trout is a taste sensation to savour.
We asked Decanter magazine for some advice on the best wines for game, venison, duck, salmon and trout – in different price brackets.
Wine with venison
The venison flavour profile can in some ways be similar to beef, but with less fat, as it’s a lean meat, and a gamier aspect. The best wines will be full bodied, with softer tannin such as the serious Pinot Noirs of the Alto Adige, New Zealand and Burgundy. Barbera, mature Tuscan Sangiovese and Côte du Rhône may be other places to look.
Price 12.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
Wine with pheasant
Crozes-Hermitage is a vast area with some magical pockets of soil. This is produced for Sainsbury’s by the well-known Michel Chapoutier and it’s a bargain. The dense, brooding nose has charcoal elements with fig and damson notes. To taste, it has a lovely, inky attack, with iodine notes coming through on the mid-palate. Great character and style for the price.
Price: £10 Sainsbury’s
Wine with grouse
Grouse is strong in game flavour, and because of that can handle the fuller red wines, with either ripe or medium tannins. Top Burgundies and premium Pinot Noir from New World areas are a wonderful accompaniment. The leaner, serious Syrah from Northern Rhône is also a winner.
Price £39 The Wine Society
If you decide to cassoulet with any of your game, reach for the bigger, heartier reds such as Cahors, Bordeaux, Northern Rhone or California Zinfandels.
Wine with duck
Duck also lends itself with the cherry flavours of Pinot Noir in the variety of ways it can be cooked, especially lighter styles such as the Bourgogne Rouges. Cook the duck in a sauce and your wine match changes! Both orange and cherry sauces point toward white wines, with opulent whites matching well with orange, such as Viognier, and crisper Rieslings with cherries.
Price £11.49 Waitrose
Wine with rabbit
Rabbit is a gentle meat that reacts to the sauce it is cooked with. If it is predominantly on its own, either roast, grilled and pan fried then light to medium bodied red wines are a great match, such as Dolcetto or Beaujolais – made from the Gamay grape. Rabbit stews, on the other hand, normally have the addition of red wine and calls for heartier reds such as Primitivo and Southern Rhône and Languedoc reds made from the Grenache and Syrah grapes.
Price £10 Gerrard Steel
Wine with brown trout
Brown trout is not up there on the “fishy” scale in flavour, so will need soft, unoaked whites with lower acidity. Unoaked – New World Chardonnays, Pinot Blanc or the grape Pecorino (not the cheese) from Italy.
Champagne and salmon
Salmon and Champagne is a match recognised universally, and it’s specifically the Chardonnay grape used in making Champagne that salmon has a particular affinity with. Look out for Blanc de Blancs styles of method Champenoise styles – the sparkling wines of England and Spain also fit the bill. If you are not after bubbles, lightly oaked Chardonnay from the cooler climates is also a winner; White Burgundy, New Zealand and Yarra Valley in Australia are some of the places to look for.
Price £52 Clos & Cru