Top pairings | The best wine pairings with venison

Top pairings

The best wine pairings with venison

What is the best wine pairing for venison? An easy answer is the same sort of wine you’d drink with beef, but I’d suggest a few modifications as the two are not quite the same. Three qualities of venison, or cervena as it's sometimes referred to in New Zealand, particularly distinguish it from beef and should influence your choice of wine match: 

  • Venison is leaner
  • Venison is gamier
  • Venison is usually combined with stronger flavours (e.g. juniper)

Let's dive into each of these characteristics and see how they might influence the wine pairing for specific venison dishes.

For a start venison is quite a bit leaner than most beef cuts with a finer texture which tends to favour more elegant red wines such as red burgundy, barolo or mature Bordeaux - certainly when it’s served as a roast or a fillet (see this sensational match) Pinot noir is also particularly good with a venison tartare.

It is also a slightly gamier meat than beef which could lead you towards high end Rhône reds such as Côte Rôtie, Hermitage or Saint Joseph or a Bandol if it’s made into a casserole or venison stew. I’ve also had venison successfully paired with malbec.

And it tends to be combined with strong flavours like juniper or wild mushrooms which again might lead you in a pinot direction or, as I suggest with this recipe for spiced venison with wild mushroom and truffle sauce with a more vibrant Western Australian cabernet merlot blend (or a younger, fruitier Bordeaux).

With a rich foie gras accompaniment it might even pair with a shiraz as I discovered to my surprise at a Wine Australia tasting a couple of years ago.

A more off-the-wall pairing, if you’re feeling adventurous, would be a German spätlese riesling which I greatly enjoyed with a dish of rare venison at a restaurant called Zum Krug. (But most people I suspect would prefer a spätburgunder if they were thinking German wine.)

Image by Natalia Lisovskaya at

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Comments: 1 (Add)

Thomas on December 31 2022 at 19:21

Great suggestions for the wines. I'm having venison butterfly chops for dinner with a mushroom/coconut milk sauce.

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