Assumptions that game has a rich meaty flavour can make wine pairing tricky. But if you follow wine expert Amy Hollier’s advice it should be plain sailing. This month we look at four types of game and look at both classical and modern pairings.
What you’ve got to remember about venison is that it’s lean. It doesn’t have the fattiness of beef or lamb and so needs a pairing with a wine that has fewer tannins. If you try and pair it with a high-tannin wine the flavour will be lost and the wine will dominate.
Classical: Northern Rhône. Look for something like a Gigondas with its softer tannins and something made with the Syrah grape. What you are really looking for is a fruitiness in the wine, something that will go well with what is also growing in the habitat where venison live. So, think hedgerow fruits and berries.
New World: A California Cabernet would work as well as a Merlot from Chile. You could also look at a Carmonere from Chile also.
In August when the grouse are young the emphasis should be on a wine that is light and summery. This will change as summer becomes autumn and the grouse age.
Classical: Pinot Noir. It needs to be light enough for summer. The very best choices would be red Burgundy. So, think wines like Gevrey Chambertin, Pommard or a Sauvigny Les Beaunes.
New World: Chateau Musar from Lebanon. A California Pinot Noir from Napa Valley
Hare does have a stronger characteristic and in my opinion a full-bodied white wine is the way to go.
Classical: Condrieu. This is a small relatively new appellation created in 1940 and lies on the banks of the northern Rhône river. It is famous for white wines made with the Viognier grape. These can have fruity almost apricot-type flavours and go well with hare.
New World: Napa Chardonnay, New Zealand Pinot Noir, Australian Riesling.
Pheasant is not a rich meat and needs careful attention when it comes to wine pairing. Fruitiness is important here.
Classical: Chianti. The Sangiovese grape with its fruit and red currant flavours would be my number one choice.
New World: South African Cabernet Franc, Australian Chiraz from somewhere hot like Yarra Valley or a South American Malbec