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Which are the best wines for game, venison, rabbit, salmon and brown trout?

Bring out the flavours with carefully selected wines advises our expert Harry Fawkes of Decanter magazine

wine with game

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 served with venison 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.

Try 2011 Côtes du Rhône Villages, Massif d’Uchaux, Domaine de la Renjarde

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.

Sainsbury’s, Taste the Difference, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône, France 2009

Price: £10 Sainsbury’s

choosingwinewithgameWine 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.

Try Au Bon Climat, Sanford & Benedict, Santa Ynez 2009

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.

Try Viognier Cuvee Balthazar 

Price £11.49 Waitrose

winewithduckWine 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.

Try Ciabot Berton, Rutuin 2013

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.

Try the award-winning Marks & Spencer, Mâcon-Villages, Burgundy, France 2014

Price £10

Macon Villages wine 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.

Try David Léclapart, L’Artiste Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru, Montagne de Reims, 2007

Price £52 Clos & Cru