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Food & Wine Pairing - Game

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine...

Wine and Game is a glorious combination...

Pairing Wine with Game

For simple Roast birds served with traditional accompaniments like roast potatoes and a light gravy – pick a good bottle of Burgundy, a mature Bordeaux, Borolo or Rioja.

For delicately flavoured roast Partridge dishes try an elegant red Burgundy, the soft tannins will not overpower the delicacy.  Less well-known (in this country) are the red wines of the Loire Valley, where ‘La Chasse’ is a hugely popular pastime. Cabernet Franc from Saumur Champigny is a little like a slightly more tannic version of Fleurie and works wonderfully in this case.

Grouse with its stronger character look for more full-bodied reds made from Syrah.

Pheasant look for medium full-bodied wines with red berry notes – Chianti or Montepulcianao d’Abruzzo.

For fine cuts of Venison pair an elegant, classic Left Bank Bordeaux from the Haut Medoc or perhaps a Tuscan Chianti Classico, both have a classic backbone of acidity which and tannin which will bond perfectly with the proteins in the venison, rounding out the texture of the wine on the palate

For more earthy slow-cooked dishes, stews and casseroles….try the softer, riper flavours of a right bank  Bordeaux based on Merlot.  These often have an ‘earthiness’ combined with ripe, sweet fruit flavours which contrast match beautifully with the intense slow-cooked flavours and the sweetness of root vegetables.  Another option might be a Rhône red from Grenache or Syrah (the southern Rhône is a good option here).

Expertly hung game meats develop complex aromas and flavours.  Pairing the right wine with these flavours can be part art and part science, but a few simple rules can help to guide you to a perfect match: 

  1. Classic (Old World) reds often have higher acidity levels than their New World equivalents, this can help balance the lactic acid which builds up as the meat breaks down, helping to tenderise it
  2. Tannins in a red wine will bond with the protein in the game, transforming the texture on the palate….many classic reds are made to be drunk with food. Choose your usual weekday soft and juicy Merlot from the new world and you may well find it becomes insipid when paired with game…so with red meats in particular, be bold with the tannins!
  3. If you’re a fan of New World Reds, Shiraz or Grenache-based wines have an affinity with game, ‘GSM’ blends (Grenache Shiraz & Mourvedre) being a good bet
  4.  Not a fan of red?  Some whites can be quite successful…Alsace is the classic source for these, Riesling and Pinot Gris from this region are classically paired with goose, duck and even venison!

Duck & Game birds have a more intrinsic flavour and fat than chicken, and so they require a fully flavoured wine to accompany them. A medium-bodied, flavouful Pinot Noir is a good match to the richer flavour in these birds. (Ref: Red Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir)

Roast Venison is flattered by a mellow, premium quality Pinot Noir. Marinated and left to hang for a while before roasting, it can take on a rich reds such as Shiraz Cabernet, or Shiraz Mourvedre blend. Serve Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Shiraz with a more powerfully flavoured venison casserole.

Roast goose deserve gamy, mature reds made from Pinot Noir and Shiraz, or rich Cabernet Merlot blends. Try a fine Chardonnay Pinot Noir, like Jacob’s Creek for something out of the ordinary. Both Botrytis Riesling or a Premium dry Riesling with concentrated, full fruit flavours will do the honours with Foie Gras.

Look for a savoury, herby, smooth palate Shiraz or rounded Pinot Noir to accompany roasted Pheasant. Casserole Pheasant with bacon and shallots is delicious with a fruity, mature Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz.

Pigeon casserole is dark, rich and full – flavoured, and needs a red wine with fruit and body to stand up well to it. Try a weighty Pinot Noir, or plum and spice mature Shiraz or rich Cabernet Shiraz blend. Fruity but low – tannin Merlot or cool – climate Cabernet Merlot blends will partner a salad of warm pidgeon and crispy croutons.

Go from a humble game lover to a verified meat connoisseur.

A Guide to Different Cuts of Game

The most common types of game are:

  • Grouse
  • Pheasant
  • Partridge
  • Quail
  • Snipe
  • Wild Duck
  • Woodcock
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Hare
  • Rabbit
  • Venison
  • Wild Boar

Shoulder the distinctive grassy-gamey flavour of venison in an impressive roasting joint. Cook it rare to medium-rare to keep it succulent

Diced venison shoulder and leg meat is fully trimmed and evenly cubed to deliver the perfect basis for stews and game pies

Mince super-lean leg and shoulder combine to make a mince that’s a lower-fat alternative to beef or lamb but doesn’t scrimp on flavour

Burgers fine-ground meat and just a little bit of fat are seasoned with Italian herbs to make a fragrant, tasty burger

Sausages a tasty sausage combining lean venison with a well-considered sprinkling of herbs.

Haunch cut from the top of the hind leg, with the bones removed, this collection of muscles makes a tender and flavour-packed roaster

Haunch Steak a thick-cut fatless steak with a robust texture that’s best-cooked quick-and-hot to keep it soft and juicy

Diced fully trimmed and evenly diced leg and shoulder meat for slow-cooked winter warmers

Osso Buco lateral cuts through the lower leg of the carcass reveal succulent bone marrow and well-marbled meat that becomes flaky and tender with slow cooking in plenty of liquid

Tenderloin a long internal muscle (also known as the fillet) that nestles below the saddle and delivers delicate but distinctive flavour combined with the very softest of textures

Saddle Fillet running along the deer’s spine, this muscle is fine-grained for tenderness and looks impressive while being really easy to cook

Fillet Steak medium-thick cuts from the tenderloin are juicy and buttery-soft when flash fried

Rack the eye meat of the fillet presented on the bone to make an impressive centrepiece that tastes as good as it looks

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