What to serve with wild game
October 1 marks the beginning of hunting season in Belgium, so it's the perfect time to think about what to serve with game -- as well as mushrooms and other autumnal dishes. Don't worry, I also mention some non-gamey alternatives for the vegetarians among us!
One simple rule of pairing food and wine is that neither should over-power the other. They should complement each other. So the key question is how powerful is the taste of the food?
So the first rule for game is actually pretty simple: If you would serve a lighter white wine with grilled fish and chicken, you should serve a more powerful white wine with pheasant or rabbit because they have a stronger taste (unless you are serving them in a stew with tomato sauce, which changes everything - see below). For reds, if you would normally serve a lighter red with a steak or meatballs, you should choose a more powerful red to go with venison or wild boar because they have stronger tastes than animals raised for our tables.
The second consideration is how you're serving the game. If you intend to serve coniglio alla cacciatora, a typical Italian autumn dish in which rabbit is stewed with olives, onions, rosemary, bay leaves and tomatoes, you should probably consider serving a rosé or even a light red wine rather than a white despite starting off with white meat.
Lastly, think about how heavy or fatty the meat is. If you're serving something like turkey or cuts of red meat with more fat you might want to consider serving it with Champagne or a sparkling rosé or even a dry Lambrusco, respectively.
The same rules apply to seasonal vegetarian dishes such as mushroom risotto, lentils with sausage and vegetarian lasagna: the simpler the dish, the simpler the wine. The more powerful the tastes--for example funghi porcini vs. champignons de Paris, wild boar sausage vs. simple pork sausage, rich tomato sauce vs. non-tomato-sauces--the more you should lean towards powerful wines.
I happen to have a few perfect wines for the season. ;-) And all of them provide better value for money than 90% of the wines you will find in the supermarket.
For pheasant, wild turkey, rabbit and wild boar (without tomato sauce), you will want powerful white wines such as:
For venison, wild mushrooms, brown lentils with sausage and any dishes served with a rich tomato sauce, you could reach for one of these:
- Alpha Estate's 2019 Malagouzia (northern Greece)
- Su'Entu's 2019 Su'Imari Vermentino (Sardinia)
- Argyros's French oak-fermented Assyrtiko (Santorini)
- Domaine du Chenoy's organic Perle de Wallonie sparkling wine (Belgium)
- Karanika's méthode traditionnelle Xinomavro sparkling wine (northern Greece).
- George Skouras's Saint George (Nemea) from Agiorgitiko grapes
- Cantine di Dolianova's Anzenas (Sardinia) from Cannonau grapes
- Argiolas's 2017 Perdera (Sardinia) from Monica di Sardegna grapes
- Douloufakis's 2014 Alárgo (Crete) from Syrah grapes
- Argiolas's rich 2017 Costera (Sardinia) from Cannonau grapes
- Skouras's smoky 2018 Fleva (Nemea) from Syrah grapes
- Domaine du Chenoy's 2017 Grand Chenoy (organic, Belgium)
- Cantine di Santadi's Rocca Rubia (Sardinia) from Carignano del Sulcis grapes
(Six of these are included in my Richer Reds box).
For dishes that are somewhere in the middle--pork or game or lentils with a bit of tomato--you could try a rosé such as one of these:
All of the wines are also available individually in my web shop at reasonable prices! For large orders please feel free to write to me directly.
- The incontournable Gaia 14-18 rosé (Nemea) from Agiorgitiko grapes
- Domaine du Chenoy's Perle de Wallonie rosé organic sparkling wine (Belgium)
I hope to be able to see you at a wine tasting again soon - whether it's virtual or in our garden!
P.S. October is also the season of wine fairs at many Belgian supermarkets. My free advice: There are some good deals to be had in the "world wines" sections, including Portuguese and Chilean and Greek, whereas most of the French wine is over-priced. Don't judge by names or labels. Trust the ratings of well-known sommeliers such as Jancis Robinson, Robert Parker or James Suckling. If they give something more than 90 points, you're safe. If they don't, don't bother.
P.P.S. If it ever stops raining and before it gets too cold I will try to organise some small-circle wine tastings on short notice in the garden that we can enjoy some good wine in safety. Unfortunately they will be on short notice because I will only organise them if I'm sure the weather will be good.