Pairings | Game

Top wine and beer matches for game

Top wine and beer matches for game

We Brits have always had a reputation for liking our wines old and our game high but times have changed. Today the key factor in matching game tends to be not how ‘gamey’ it is but how it’s cooked and what is served with it.

Wine and game matching revisited

Wine and game matching revisited

A muggy evening in mid-July might seem an odd occasion to focus on wine and game matching but there were two reasons for last night’s Louis Jadot game dinner and the Westminster Kingsway catering college. One is that they hoped to engage the attention of consumer magazines who work 4-6 months ahead in terms of feature planning and the second is that the Game-to-Eat campaign is trying to encourage us all to think of eating game year round.

Game terrine and London dry gin

Game terrine and London dry gin

I’ve already written about how well game terrine pairs with oloroso sherry. Now I’ve discovered an equally good, if not better pairing: London Dry Gin.

Game pie and Listrac

Game pie and Listrac

A classic match for this time of year but no less enjoyable for that.

Game terrine and sweet oloroso sherry

Game terrine and sweet oloroso sherry

Last week I was given a couple of slices of gorgeous game terrine by Stephen Markwick of Culinaria with whom I’ve been writing a book (of which more news soon). We had it for lunch and the only wine I had open wasn’t up to the intensity of the spicing (which was dominated by allspice) and the accompanying damson chutney.

Ideas for a beer and game menu

I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):

A challenging game menu

Q I am going to a dinner where we take our own wine. The starter is slices of smoked pheasant with partridge pate, followed by fillet of venison then a dessert of profiteroles with lemon cream + chocolate sauce. then a savoury of rabbit and tarragon terrine. You may now realise my problem! Any suggestions?

What to eat with old Côte Rôtie

What to eat with old Côte Rôtie

An irresistible dinner invitation came my way a few weeks ago, to attend a game dinner and tasting of René Rostaing’s Côte Rôties at Emanuel College, Cambridge. Cambridge colleges are famous for their wine cellars but these wines came from the personal wine cellar of its ‘wine steward’ Dr Jonathan Aldred, the fortunate fellow (in both senses of the word) who buys all the wine for the college.

How to cook grouse

How to cook grouse

Now that we're a couple of weeks into the season you might be tempted to bag yourself a couple of braces of grouse - it's a great treat for a small dinner party.

What food to match with red Bordeaux

What food to match with red Bordeaux

Although Bordeaux produces some of the most expensive wines in the world it also produces bottles that are great for everyday drinking. So what kind of food pairs best with them?

The best pairings for amontillado and palo cortado sherry

The best pairings for amontillado and palo cortado sherry

Amontillado sherry has richer, nuttier flavours than a classic fino or manzanilla sherry and calls for different food matches. Think more in terms of cured meat, game and cheese than seafood and richer, meatier tapas.

The best food pairings for dry oloroso sherry

The best food pairings for dry oloroso sherry

The Spanish are more adventurous than us when it comes to matching sherry and food. I remember drinking a dry oloroso with roast partridge a few years back in Jerez. But what else could you pair with it?

Sweet Bordeaux and savoury food

Sweet Bordeaux and savoury food

Last week, the Union des Grands Vins Liquoureux de Bordeaux, the body that represents Bordeaux sweet wine producers, hosted a tasting of wines from six of the appellations they represent to partner savoury and sweet dishes at a lunch at le Cercle restaurant in Chelsea.

The best food pairings for Barolo and Barbaresco

The best food pairings for Barolo and Barbaresco

The food of Piedmont in north-west Italy is as highly regarded as its wines so it makes sense to make the local dishes your first choice if you’re looking for a match for a bottle of Barolo or Barbaresco.

 The best wine pairings for partridge

The best wine pairings for partridge

I sometimes think partridge is my favourite game bird - less full-on and ‘gamey’ than pheasant, more subtle and delicate than chicken. But what to drink with it?

Venison and Cot (Malbec)

Venison and Cot (Malbec)

The most successful wine pairing from a tasting I hosted on behalf of Touraine wines the other day was not the expected sauvignon and goats cheese or even fish and chips but a rich gamey dish of venison with a robust Cot, the name by which Malbec is known in the Loire.

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.

Which foods pair best with whisky?

Which foods pair best with whisky?

I’ve been a bit of a sceptic in the past about pairing food with whisky. Not that there aren’t some great combinations but I find it hard to sustain for more than one dish.

The best wine pairings for pheasant

The best wine pairings for pheasant

Even if not well-hung, as it rarely is these days, pheasant has a stronger flavour than other feathered game such as partridge or duck. And older, tougher birds are often braised or pot-roasted which calls for a more robust wine match still.

The best food pairings for Pinotage

The best food pairings for Pinotage

Like any other red South Africa's Pinotage comes in different styles - some lighter and fruitier than others. When you're matching it with food you take a cue from the sort of ingredients and dishes that go with its two ancestors - Pinot Noir and Cinsault.

What food to pair with mature Margaux

The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.

Rabbit stifado

Rabbit stifado

A robust, winey stew from Rebecca Seal's mouthwatering new book, The Islands of Greece which immediately makes you want to jump on a plane and fly off there. Top tip about cooking rabbit too.

Josceline Dimbleby's Crispy Pigeon Pie

Josceline Dimbleby's Crispy Pigeon Pie

This impressive Moroccan-style pie from Josceline Dimbleby's food memoir Orchards in the Oasis would make a great centrepiece for a dinner party or more casual supper with friends.

Must grouse wine matches be classic?

Must grouse wine matches be classic?

I’m always in two minds about whether to write about the beginning of the grouse season. After all only a tiny number of people will be sufficiently interested - or well-heeled - to bag the first birds that arrive on restaurant tables this evening.

What to drink with goose

What to drink with goose

If you’ve decided to serve goose rather than turkey this Christmas you’ve already opted to be adventurous. So you could arguably be adventurous about your choice of drink too.

The best food pairings for Pinot Noir

The best food pairings for Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is one of the most versatile red wines to match with food and a great option in a restaurant when one of you is eating meat and the other fish.

10 good wine pairings with paté

10 good wine pairings with paté

And by paté I’m thinking of rough country patés and terrines like a paté de campagne rather than fish patés or vegetarian patés which I’ll tackle separately. The sort that you might take on a picnic or eat in a wine bar.

Venison tartare with Mountford's The Rise 2009 pinot noir

Venison tartare with Mountford's The Rise 2009 pinot noir

As you can imagine I’ve been drinking a fair amount of pinot noir in New Zealand this week (it’s a hard life). In general Kiwis pair it with lamb for obvious reasons but the most striking match I came across was with a venison tartare at the North Canterbury forage, a fabulous event I’ll be writing more about in due course

Tandoori grouse and an Indian ‘SuperTuscan’

Tandoori grouse and an Indian ‘SuperTuscan’

If you’d asked me a week ago whether I thought it was a good idea to cook grouse in a tandoor oven and then to serve it with a full-bodied red I’d have said no, and no. Which shows how you can continually be surprised by this food and wine pairing lark.

Roast venison with tapenade and a modern Spanish red

Roast venison with tapenade and a modern Spanish red

Frankly almost any full-bodied red will work with a roast meat like venison but I’m particularly excited about the new breed of modern Spanish reds that are appearing on the shelves.

Rabbit (or chicken) with spring vegetables and Viognier

Rabbit (or chicken) with spring vegetables and Viognier

On Saturday I was in London’s Borough Market which was full of the most wonderful spring vegetables - artichokes, broad beans, peas and asparagus. It reminded me of a dish I normally make this time of year when we’re at our house in the Languedoc in southern France which is rabbit braised with spring vegetables and Viognier.

Grouse and Chambolle-Musigny

Grouse and Chambolle-Musigny

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.

How to create a dish to match a wine

How to create a dish to match a wine

Signe Johansen recently competed in - and won - a food bloggers challenge to come up with the perfect dish for a Casillero del Diablo Chilean Cabernet. Here’s how she went about it. (You can find the recipe for the winning dish, Pigeon breast and chocolate mole with redcurrants and parmesan mash here.)

What type of food pairs best with Brunello di Montalcino?

What type of food pairs best with Brunello di Montalcino?

I always like to respond promptly if someone draws attention to a wine match that’s not available on the site so thanks, Nigel B of Hong Kong for pointing out there was nothing on Brunello di Montalcino.

5 of the best food pairings for Australian Shiraz

5 of the best food pairings for Australian Shiraz

Shiraz, like every other wine, varies in style depending on its price, age and region of origin but you can be pretty sure when it comes to matching Australian shiraz we’re talking about a full-bodied red.

10 food pairings for peaty whiskies

10 food pairings for peaty whiskies

Following my trip to Islay a while ago I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. I’m not a great one for whisky dinners but I like the idea of serving tapa-sized dishes with a dram.

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

If you've been following the new alternative lifestyle programme Château Monty on Channel 4 you’ll know that ‘Monty’ is wine writer Monty Waldin who set out to make his own biodynamic wine in the Roussillon down in the far corner of south-west France

Venison cottage pie and a ‘lunchtime claret’

Venison cottage pie and a ‘lunchtime claret’

This week’s match is a blast from the past - a visit to the historic Rules restaurant in London’s Covent Garden where we tucked into the kind of food you’d have eaten 50 years ago - if not 100.

Roast venison and madeira

Roast venison and madeira

It was a tough call coming up with a single wine pairing last week - there were so many good ones but I’m going for this combination because it’s such a cool serving suggestion.

Roast partridge and Pinot Noir

Roast partridge and Pinot Noir

I’ve already suggested pinot noir as a good pairing for partridge so it was good to find the recommendation vindicated at lunch with Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines at 67 Pall Mall last week.

Rabbit stew and 2011 Henri et Gilles Buisson Saint Romain ‘Sous Roche’

Rabbit stew and 2011 Henri et Gilles Buisson Saint Romain ‘Sous Roche’

This isn’t the first time I’ve singled out pinot noir as a good pairing for rabbit (see here for one back in 2011) but it’s good to be reminded what an adaptable wine a relatively modest red burgundy can be.

Pot-roast pigeon and Sangre de Toro

Pot-roast pigeon and Sangre de Toro

As the weather is finally turning warmer we thought we had better clear the freezer of winter ingredients so last night my husband pot-roasted a couple of pigeons we’d picked up on the cheap. Unusually we didn’t have any red wine left over so we cracked open a bottle of Torres Sangre de Toro, a sound but not overly exciting Garnacha and Cariñena-based Spanish red.

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Once the game season starts to get into full swing my husband ventures into the kitchen. Pheasant, of course, doesn’t come into season until the 1st of October but our local butcher was obviously clearing out last year’s stocks and we picked one up for a song.

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

Les-Baux-de-Provence and civet de sanglier (wild boar stew)

I went to a great little bistro the other day in St-Rémy-de-Provence called - appropriately enough - Bistro Découverte. It’s run by a very talented young sommelier I used to know in London called Claude Douard who worked for Marco Pierre White and Joel Rebuchon.

Goat biryani and natural wine

Goat biryani and natural wine

I subjected myself to a somewhat daunting experience last Thursday trying to persuade a largely sceptical audience of journalists and bloggers of the virtues of natural wine. I think/hope I made some modest headway, helped by the fantastic feast laid on by chef Stevie Parle and his team at Dock Kitchen.

Carpaccio of venison with Mollydooker The Boxer shiraz

Carpaccio of venison with Mollydooker The Boxer shiraz

My match of the week is not in fact my match of the week which was some sublime sashimi and koshu at the Japanese embassy but as that pairing has featured before I’m going for my second best this week*.

Braised rabbit and Château Fond Cyprès Syrah de la Pinède

Braised rabbit and Château Fond Cyprès Syrah de la Pinède

Most of this past week has been spent in Paris where almost every wine match is a good one. There’s been a lot of Beaujolais - and other Gamay - drinking and a fair amount of crisp dry whites such as Aligoté - but the pairing I’m going to pick is a Syrah I didn’t know with a stonking great plateful of braised rabbit at the legendary Baratin.

Braised pheasant with chestnuts and Vacqueyras

Braised pheasant with chestnuts and Vacqueyras

Our final pre-Christmas meal at our favourite local restaurant Culinaria the other night was a real feast of winter flavours. Unusually every dish went well with the bottle we chose, a 2005 Vacquéyras Cuvée des Templiers from Le Clos des Cazaux, a wonderfully full-flavoured blend of Syrah and Grenache that was as good as many minor Châteauneuf-du-Pâpes I’ve tasted. A real treat.

 Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noir Early 2014

Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noir Early 2014

This full-flavoured pinot noir from Worcestershire took me totally by surprise this week. I would never have guessed it was from the UK.

Pithivier of pigeon with Hermitage jus and 2011 Château Plaisance, Fronton

Pithivier of pigeon with Hermitage jus and 2011 Château Plaisance, Fronton

Matching a rich dish like pigeon with wine is quite challenging, especially if you serve it with an intense jus like this one so should you go for something equally rich or a refreshing contrast?

What to drink with venison and chocolate sauce

Being Easter it’s not surprising that there’s a focus on chocolate in the press today though I’m not sure how many of us would be bold enough to serve venison with chocolate sauce to our nearest and dearest as Mark Hix has done in the Independent today.

The best food matches for Amarone

The best food matches for Amarone

A recent lunch* and discussion hosted by Masi at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner gave a revealing glimpse of what the best food pairings for amarone might be.

Asian food isn’t the only way into German riesling

Asian food isn’t the only way into German riesling

Having spent five days in Germany this week I’ve been thinking a lot about riesling and food. And my conclusion is that the heavy focus on Chinese, Thai and Indian food may be doing German wine a disservice

Spiced Venison with Wild Mushroom and Truffle Sauce

Spiced Venison with Wild Mushroom and Truffle Sauce

An elegant main course recipe* from one of my favourite food writers Sue Lawrence's A Cook’s Tour of Scotland that would be a great option for a haggis-free Burns' Night supper.

What to drink with asparagus part I

What to drink with asparagus part I

Last night I had dinner at the Dorchester Grill Room, one of London’s grander hotel restaurants which has been given an absurdly baroque makeover reminiscent of what Balmoral must have looked like in Victorian times. The team in the restaurant though are bang up to date with one of the smartest sommeliers in town, Jason McAuliffe doing an impressive double act with the talented young chef Aiden Byrne.

Roast venison with Chateau Talbot 1982

Roast venison with Chateau Talbot 1982

I was lucky enough to dine in a Cambridge college, Peterhouse, last week and even more fortunate to drink a 1982 Chateau Talbot.

Roast pigeon and Salice Salentino

Roast pigeon and Salice Salentino

A slightly unseasonal but absolutely delicious wine pairing from Bjorn van der Horst’s much anticipated new restaurant Eastside Inn. The talented Van der Horst used to cook at the Greenhouse and then for Gordon Ramsay at La Noisette and has now branched out on his own. I’ll be posting a full review in the next couple of days but this, for me, was the outstanding match of the meal, selected by sommelier Thierry Sauvanot, also ex-Ramsay.

Roast goose with Nebbiolo

Roast goose with Nebbiolo

As a chef friend who recently took over a farm had some geese to get rid of we had goose for our main Christmas meal this year - stuffed somewhat improbably with hay (long story. Not such a good idea!)

Poached langoustines and Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc

Poached langoustines and Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc

Last week I caught up with Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte which I visited a couple of years ago when the winery was nominated Wine Tourism Champion by the Great Wine Capitals of the World (you can find my Decanter article on the experience here).

Hepple gin and venison tartare

Hepple gin and venison tartare

We think of gin even less than whisky as a pairing for food but with the incredible popularity of gin these days - and the need for the many new entrants to the field to create a distinctive image for their brand that could be about to change.

Guineafowl with cherries and Beaujolais

Guineafowl with cherries and Beaujolais

I’ve been so busy catching up after my Alsace trip that I haven’t had much time for new food and wine discoveries but here’s one we had at Les Temps Changent in Chalons-en-Champagne, a hotel we frequently stop at to break the journey through France.

Gladstone Pinot Noir and hare royale

Gladstone Pinot Noir and hare royale

My match of the week has to include Gladstone Pinot Noir from Wairarapa in New Zealand which featured in two unexpectedly good pairings at two different restaurants.

German spätlese riesling and rare venison

German spätlese riesling and rare venison

One of the most interesting things I noticed on my trip to Germany last week was how Germans drink riesling with red meat. I wouldn’t have thought it would work but was utterly convinced by this pairing of super-tender rare venison with an exotic spätlese (late picked) riesling.

Crab tian and premier cru Chablis

Crab tian and premier cru Chablis

I went to a very posh lunch at Fortnum & Mason last week (about which more to follow) which has to be the most festive place in London. If you’re in the vicinity this week make sure you check out their Christmas decorations department on the first floor. And don't miss the spectacularly expensive crackers! (I was told the £1000 boxes had already sold out.)

Blesbok loin with root vegetables, num num and 2010 Delaire Graff Botmaskop

Blesbok loin with root vegetables, num num and 2010 Delaire Graff Botmaskop

Another week of brilliant pairings, another tough decision to make but I’m going for this combination at Delaire restaurant in Stellenbosch because it was such a great dish.

Aged Vouvray and wild boar terrine

Aged Vouvray and wild boar terrine

I sometimes forget to put the wine first in a pairing when it should be the star of the show and this 1995 Close du Bourg Vouvray from Huet was truly spectacular: still fresh as a daisy but subtly, seductively honeyed it was pure pleasure from the first to last sip.

10 year old Bonnes-Mares grand cru burgundy and confit duck

10 year old Bonnes-Mares grand cru burgundy and confit duck

Rooting round the cellar (well, cupboard under the stairs) in France last week I stumbled across a bottle of 2003 Bonnes-Mares, a Grand Cru burgundy from Jean-Luc Aegerter I’d been sent as a sample about eight years ago and furtively stashed away until it was ready to drink.

 Vinsobres with wild boar stew and chestnut polenta

Vinsobres with wild boar stew and chestnut polenta

You’d expect a Southern Rhône red to go with wild boar but in fact it was the chestnut polenta that made the match with this former Côtes du Rhône ‘cru’ so successful

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

An alternative Burns Night supper for six

Haggis may be traditional fare for Burns' Night but let's face it, it's not everyone's cup of tea. So here's a Scottish inspired menu that I suspect you'll probably enjoy rather more (unless you're born and bred Scots, of course...)

The Garage Project's Chateau Aro

The Garage Project's Chateau Aro

How on earth can I pick a single wine of the week from my two week trip to New Zealand? The answer is I can’t so I’m chickening out and going for a beer

Ojai vineyard Roll Ranch Syrah 1998

Ojai vineyard Roll Ranch Syrah 1998

It’s always a treat to drink great old wines, especially when they’re on top form like this fabulous syrah from Californian producer Ojai in the Santa Maria valley.

St John and the art of the long lunch

St John and the art of the long lunch

Everyone I know who’s into food has a soft spot for St John. True, it has/has had its ups and downs but It’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking it was when it opened 19 years ago. And how absolutely right its values still are in terms of serving great ingredients simply,

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