Game on!

Game on!

5th December 2018

INSPIRED by the recent National Game Week, Times Drinks Editor James Viner puts his sommelier’s hat on and tackles the best bottles to make the most of the British game season. Here are three wines well worth celebrating – game, set and match…

1) Silky Strawberryish Hungarian Bargain Red for Lighter Game

2016 Ostoros Egri Pinot Noir, Eger, Hungary (13.5%, £6.75, The Wine Society)

Everyone needs an ebullient, juicy, supple and immensely food-friendly pinot noir that is bang on the money; this one gets my vote and offers sleek, cherry and strawberry-like fruit, plus unbeatable quality for the price. Just the ticket for roast pheasant/venison/woodcock, wild boar, game pie or rabbit. An exciting discovery, this super bargain-buy red showcases Hungary’s great value under a tenner and has laudable focus and precision for a very reasonable price tag. Stock up and serve very lightly chilled. Hurry! You have the scoop. “Egészségére!”

2) 50 Shades of Gris: Winning Aromatic White for Pheasant Normande

2015 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Spiegel Domaines Schlumberger, Alsace (13.5%, £15.99
Mix Six, Majestic)

When it comes to the lighter, more delicately flavoured meat of pheasant and partridge, I prefer to poach it gently in a creamy sauce with orchard fruit, as they do in northern France. Whites are pre-eminent here, particularly a

dry or off-dry pinot gris as this full-bodied, aromatic, early-ripening pink variety will match the sweetness of the apples. Scour Majestic’s shelves for this pure, classy, just off-dry Alsace rendition, which has exceptionally deep varietal flavours, led by pear and Mirabelle plum but with strong support from ginger, honey, white flowers and smart acidity. It’s a whizz with faisan à la normande and perfect with Christmas turkey and trimmings/Boxing Day leftovers.

3) Bring on the Grouse with a Sophisticated Supermarket Syrah

2016 Delas Frères Saint-Joseph ‘Les Challeys’ Rouge, Rhône, France (13%, £18, Co-op)

Since 2014, sales of syrah (aka shiraz) have overtaken merlot to become our top red wine. Overflowing with juicy, blackcurrant, boysenberry, red fruit, herbal and peppery pizzazz, this elegant, poised and partially oaked version from the northern Rhône is tailor-made for pungent, well-hung grouse and has a pulsating finish (if you’re serving a fruity sauce with grouse, reach instead for a bottle of Aussie shiraz). Also crack open for roast wild duck/grouse/woodcock, squab pigeon, game pie and hearty casseroles of most game birds with bacon and garlic. From a brilliant vintage, this is a bringer of joy, certainly, and a supermarket autumn classic — grab it while you can!

And here’s a little something if you’re not a wine drinker:

Thrilling beers to enjoy
with game birds:

(All beers available from Beers of Europe, some from Fuggles Beer Café & The Beer Boutique)

  • Rodenbach Grand Cru Flemish Red Ale, Belgium (6%, £2.90)
  • Fuller’s ESB, England (5.9%, widely available – also great with venison)
  • Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock, Germany (7.5%, £3.19 – also great with venison)

…And for venison?

  • Steenbrugge Tripel Blonde, Belgium (8.7%, £3.19)
  • Traquair Jacobite Ale, Scotland (8%, £3.48)
  • Rochefort Trappistes 8 Ale, Belgium (9.2%, £3.39)

Follow James on Twitter
@QuixoticWine

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