Wine with Duck

Pairing Wine With Duck – Red Wine or White Wine?

You know what really sucks about writing blog posts for the Holidays. Well first, it’s the Holidays so writing blog posts is kind of like work and who really wants to work during the Holidays? Second, there are lots of distractions. Drinking wine, visiting with family, drinking wine, buying gifts, drinking wine, attending parties and drinking wine while at them, interminable amounts of driving and drinking wine – not at the same time however. Third, at least every other year, either Karen or I seem to get a cold. This year, we both got one as did Danny. So what’s the point? I am way behind on my last two Holiday food and wine pairing posts.

Duck and especially Goose aren’t consumed in western cuisine near as frequently as in decades past, although the classic Dickens Christmas still speaks to the Christmas Goose. We’re more likely to have Duck however, so this part of the post focuses on what wines pair with duck. Especially with duck, remember one of the main rules with pairing wine and food. If the meat has a sauce, which duck often does, then pair the wine with the sauce and not the meat. Duck often has an accompanying sauce so use our food pairing wizard to find a wine to pair with a sauce. Our suggestions below are explicitly for duck without a sauce. Contrary to what most people would intuit, white wines are not the best pairing for duck. For fowl, duck has a considerable amount of fat, and that fat–sometimes bordering on oiliness– calls for light to medium bodied red wines. The classic light red wine is of course Pinot Noir but I think medium bodied red wines pair with duck more effectively. A good, non-fruit-forward Merlot would be my first choice followed by a medium bodied Malbec. If there is a little spice to the seasoning, this would be a good place to bring out a Zinfandel as well.

Turkey, Chicken and Game Hens on the other hand pair with entirely different types of wine. Turkey and chicken meat can be dry if not cooked properly (and trust me, I’ve had my share of improperly cooked turkey and chicken). Even when nicely cooked, the juices in turkey and chicken are subtle and clear with a pronounced lack of fat so throw every suggestion we made about duck pairing out the window for these two traditional American meats. Most white wines pair with turkey and chicken extremely well. If you are a Chardonnay fan, this is one of the top food pairings. If you like Sauvignon Blanc (and if you do, why?), this is another good choice. For those of you that like to venture a little further from the traditional “safe and known” white wines, I think Albarino is a great choice as well. The only whites I would strongly avoid would be those sweet Rieslings and Muscats. The predominantly sweet flavor overwhelms the subtle flavors of chicken and turkey.

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