Wine choice with game
The garnish or sauce (from cranberries to truffle sauce) often plays an important role in or with game dishes. The garnish and sauce often determine the choice of wine. Now imagine that you would like a wine specifically for game ‘a la naturelle’ (so without garnish or sauce). What would you choose?
The wine aroma
We all know the aroma of cassis, gooseberry, cedar or vanilla. Sometimes, however, you will find a ‘rural aroma’ in your red wine. If so, you have become acquainted with what vinologists call ‘brett’ (brettanomyces). Brettanomyces is a yeast that is increasingly found in full-bodied red wines, where it can cause a smell of stable air.
For game dishes, a little brett is often very tasty and wines with notes of stable air, leather and truffle often combine very well with the authentic aroma and taste of game.
Terroir or brett
Despite the ‘country’ scent, Brett remained unknown and undiscussed for a long time. French winemakers preferred to talk about ‘terroir’. That sounded a lot more positive and the added benefit was that no one knew exactly what it meant.
In reality, brett and wine can be faulty, especially if the stall air is too dominant. Most winemakers can do something about it, unless the brett yeast has been present in the wine cellar for decades. Brett only gets the chance if the wine is not properly protected by sulphite or if the hygiene in the wine cellar is not optimal. Wines are also more likely to get brett if the winemaker believes he should not have to clear or filter the wines. Wines from warm climates with a lot of alcohol and low acidity in particular are sensitive to brett, which is why you also find it more and more in Cabernets from Napa Valley and Pinotages from Stellenbosch. But you will also find it more and more often in red wines from Chile, Argentina, Australia and (increasingly) also from Spain and Sicily. Worldwide, the Rhone is best known for its brett association, with its most recognizable exponent, the Vacqueras La Grangeliere.
When you think of game (from deer to wild boar) you involuntarily think of a big feast or winter. With game you also think of pronounced flavors. Naturally, this includes wines with distinct flavors, winter and festive. That wine does not necessarily have to be red. White and rose wines go equally well with some game dishes.
The wine with various types of roast game
Roast deer fillet
Deer is medium in weight and firm but soft in texture. This game has an intense, delicate and fine taste. The meat gives many choices among the wines with a certain elegance from all over the world. These include Grands Crus from Bordeaux, top Pinot Noir from New Zealand or South Africa, top Syrah (such as Hermitage and Saint Joseph) or the more elegant Shiraz styles from Australia, Chile and South Africa.
Roast duck breast
Roast duck breast (poultry) is of medium weight and firm in texture. Duck breast tastes intense and ripe, with some fat. Unlike venison (and also hare), duck gives the opportunity to combine with a white wine. It must be a solid white wine (such as New World Chardonnays, Semillons from Australia or South Africa or Gruener Veltliners from Austria).
If you opt for a red wine, Pinot Noir is a favorite (both New and Old World) and red Austrian wines (Blaufraenkisch).
Roast hare fillet
Saddle of hare fillet is heavier than venison, with a tender (melting on the tongue) structure and an intense, ripe but also refined taste. It is best to choose high-quality wines. This includes Burgundies from the Cote-de-Nuits (such as Gevrey-Chamertin and Aloxe-Corton). But the right bank of Bordeaux is also a very good choice (Saint-Emilion and Pomerol). From Italy the Brunello di Montalcino and also the top Merlots from Chile are possible as well as the best Riojas.
Roast wild boar fillet
This game species is medium in weight and sturdy. Wild boar has a nutty appearance and a fine fat. It’s not too outspoken yet powerful. With wild boar, a white wine from the New World can be combined well, preferably with a herb butter and an oak touch. Also tasty are solid Roses and juicy Italian wines (such as Aglianico de vulture from Campania) or a beautiful Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (with or without a hint of brett).