Friday, 14 August 2015

Wines for a game bird

The 12th of August, “the Glorious Twelfth”, marks the official start of the game season in the UK. From now, for a few short weeks, our native red grouse can legally be shot over the grouse moors of the landed gentry of northern England and Scotland.

Birds and Burgundy
Pinot Noir is the natural choice to accompany your feathered game, so there’s no better place to head for than Burgundy. A good rule of thumb is that early season birds will be more tender and delicately flavoured and will match well with younger, fruitier wines.

As the season goes on, the birds develop more flavour as well as becoming more sinewy – and birds will have been hung before sale to help tenderise the meat, resulting in a “gamey” flavour. For these birds it makes sense to choose a more mature wine which will have developed a similar gaminess.

Domaine Maillard Père et Fils 2013 Chorèy-lès-Beaune - £16.99 from Waitrose
Reds from the Côte de Beaune are generally lighter than those from the more northerly Côte de Nuits and this has soft, supple ripe red fruit with a smooth, silky feel.

La Grille Pinot Noir 2013 - £8.99 (or £6.74 as part of their mix and match offer) from selected Majestic stores
OK, not from Burgundy, but game lovers on a budget can get some idea of the fruity, fragrant style of Pinot Noir without breaking the bank.

Game for a white?
Red wine is undoubtedly the natural wine choice for game, but not everyone likes red, so I have been giving the matter some thought.

Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli 2011 - £15.95 from, Hawkshead Wines and other independents

If you can bear the emotion, this would make a great match – and not just because of the name. From Georgia (the country, not the US state), it’s a white wine that is made somewhat like a red wine, the crushed grapes left to macerate with the juice before pressing and fermentation, resulting in a deeply coloured white wine with some of the grip and body of a red. It is richly flavoured but dry, with walnuts, blossom and a hint of honey wafting around.

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