Today is the official start of the grouse season. (Yes, it is the 13th but since the Glorious 12th falls on a Sunday this year they (though I haven’t the faintest idea who ‘They’ are) decided to postpone it a day). For those of you unfamiliar with this gastronomic treat grouse is a small, wild bird that inhabits open moorland, and is much prized for its gamey flavour.
It’s sufficiently rare to create a bit of a stir when it turns up on a menu, particularly this year when numbers have apparently been adversely affected by disease and the poor weather. If you’re not a member of a gentleman’s club or fortunate enough to have a traditional Scottish butcher on your doorstep you’re most likely to find it in such game-friendly establishments as The Goring, Hambleton Hall in Rutland, the Mayfair butcher Allens or London department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges, though you may well need to order it in advance. (I also discovered a website www.ovenreadygrouse.co.uk that supplies direct from the Barningham Park estate on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors)
In terms of a wine match this is the perfect opportunity to bring out one of your best bottles of red burgundy - and an ethereal style of red burgundy at that: something like a Chambolle-Musigny or a Vosne-Romanée with a few years’ bottle age would be perfect. Assuming you don’t have a Romanée-Conti to hand, of course . . .