Gunning for a good red
IF YOU enjoy a taste of the hunting life, September signals the start of the game season and there are many flavourful wines available to accompany these wild birds of Britain.
Rich, gamey flavours call for rouge noirs with plenty of berry-rich fruit to complement the earthy, meaty nuances of these tasty dishes.
The shooting season continues through to the end of November, and in some cases January, so there's plenty of time to choose your style of red to match the strength and flavour of the bird.
To get ahead of the game, Spar has a merlot which offers great value if you've fallen prey to a brace of partridge. Try Spar Chilean Merlot, Central Valley, Chile (£4.79 from £5.49 until September 19, Spar), which suits the delicate flesh of young birds with its plummy, blackberry forest fruits and gentle, rounded tannins.
Serve your oven-ready partridge with bacon rashers, game chips and bread sauce, and a glass of shiraz (syrah) such as Dona Dominga Single Vineyard Syrah 2010, Chile (£7.49, Waitrose) will fit the bill perfectly with its succulent spiced cherry and currant, with a dash of malbec for some added structure on the peppered finish and chewy tannins.
A luscious pinot noir suits most game birds and this smooth example from Down Under is not only great value but a gamekeeper's trophy red. Try Telegraph Station Pinot Noir 2011, South Eastern Australia (£5 from £10.99 until September 25, Tesco) for a ripe and juicy pinot with an elegant mouthfeel. With real depth to the warming raspberry and black cherry flavours, the refined tannins linger delicately.
For well-hung birds that are more savoury, a weighty South African such as Extra Special Fairtrade Pinotage 2011, Western Cape, South Africa (£6.98, Asda) suits the strong tangy flavours of pheasant or duck, especially when paired with herb stuffing and Savoy cabbage. Pinotage is South Africa's speciality red grape (a cross between pinot noir and cinsault) and this juicy, powerful wine, with intense blackcurrant and plum flavours, smoke and spice, tastes great with game.
Tender pink duck breast that's rich in flavour suits a ruby red from the southern Rhone and the trusted Cellier des Dauphins label, a co-operative of 13 different producers, promises wine lovers a top drop with its Les Dauphins Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010 (£16.99, Tesco). With hints of clove and some rich, spiky peppery flavours in the mix too, a glass or two goes down very easily, almost without noticing.