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Grapes and Game

December 2nd, 2013 by Alan A. Barone

As you may or may not know, The Griswold Inn is renowned for our seasonal Festival of Game menu featured every year in the month of December. This is the perfect opportunity to try a variety of game offerings, as well as to taste some well-matched wines with one ultimate objective in mind: to elevate your dining experience for the holidays.

A simple guideline for pairing a certain varietal with food begins with defining weight. You want to  balance the weight of the food with that of the wine. A light wine with a rich dish, simply will not work.  The bolder the flavor of the dish, (as with most game) the bolder the wine must be to stand-up to it.  Next try to take into account the sauce or accompaniment of the dish and the cooking method.   For instance, grilling a piece of chicken produces a stronger flavor than say, steaming, and a rich cream sauce will require a different choice than a spicy salsa. Consider the acidity level and sweetness of the wine, as well. An acidic wine will cut through fat, making the dish seem less rich, similar to what a squeeze of lemon might do. Generally, a wine must be at least as sweet as the food, if not the wine may taste tart and thin. The last basic is the presence of tannin in wine. The best partner for tannic wine is meat because the fat in the meat tends to smooth-out the astringency of tannin.

With goose, quail and duck, you must consider their richer, savory flavors. A medium bodied Pinot Noir or a Rhone blend with Syrah and Grenache that has fruitiness and a spicy edge will match well. If you are a fan of the more intense game flavors of Moose or Venison, try fuller, earthy, more complex older wines like a Syrah from France (or Shiraz from Australia), a California Petite Sirah or Cabernet Sauvignon, a Spanish Rioja or a sturdy Barolo from Italy.

Here are three rich, spicy reds that pair famously with our featured Sautéed Venison Medallions with Five Peppercorn Sauce.  Enjoy and Happy Holidays:

2009 Girard Petite Sirah, Napa Valley

2009 Greg Norman Shiraz, Limestone Coast

Westside Red, Troublemaker, Paso Robles



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