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Pairing Wine with Poultry

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  • Pairing Wine with Poultry

    We’re pretty much all familiar with the concept that white wines are best paired with white meats and red wines with red meats. So it seems like there would be a simple, straightforward answer to the question “which wine should I pair with poultry?” Well, not necessarily. Things aren’t always as simple as they seem. The term poultry covers a whole gamut of fowl for eating, ranging from the everyday chicken to the celebratory turkey, from quail to duck, goose, pheasant and a whole flock of game birds. And what about more exotic meats like emu? As you are probably aware, not too many of these have meat that comes even close to resembling a chicken.And then what about the sauce? Should you serve the same wine with a Coq au Vin in a hearty red wine sauce as you would with a Vietnamese Chicken Salad, Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pasta or a Chicken Tikka Masala? Starting to get a little complicated, isn’t it?Well, not really. There are a few simple guidelines that can make your choice of wine relatively easy, but as always, don’t be afraid to experiment to find the perfect match with your culinary creation – there is rarely one definitive answer.Matching Wine with Different Poultry Types

    As a general rule, the same concepts apply as when matching food and wine in general – the lighter the meat, the lighter the wine; the darker the meat, the darker the wine. But be sure to take note of how your sauce will affect the flavours of your dish to help guide your specific wine choice.The Lighter Meats

    Chicken, spatchcock (more correctly poussin), capon and turkey breast meat tend to be quite light meats and are in most cases best suited to white wines, especially Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Lighter preparations like salads and poached dishes particularly lend themselves to a pairing with the lighter end of the white wine spectrum like Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc, whereas a rich buttery sauce or roast might be better suited to a richer style like Chardonnay.Light fruit-based sauces like citrus, pear or apple are particularly good with Riesling. Stone fruit sauces are great with Chardonnay. Light herb based dishes are delicious with Sauvignon Blanc, whereas Mediterranean dishes with pungent herb and spice flavourings might stand up better with a light, spicy red like a Shiraz Grenache blend. Chicken curries are usually best with lighter, sweet and aromatic whites. A Moscato can work well, as will a Riesling or Gewurtztraminer.A dry Rosé can also be an excellent choice, particularly with roasts and turkey. Sparkling wines, especially the richer styles, also pair well with southern-style fried chicken (believe it or not!) and can lend a sense of occasion, particularly to the Christmas table. Some will swear that the very best match for the Christmas turkey is a sparkling red, or perhaps a sparkling rosé to beautifully complement the flavours of cranberry sauce and roast vegetables.
    If you’re cooking these lighter meats with red wine, the best bet is a lighter style like a Pinot Noir or light-bodied Merlot or Grenache. And the best match to drink with it is the same wine you added to the cooking pot. A heavier “darker” sauce, particularly one with berry, dark plum or cherry flavours, for example, would also suggest a red wine pairing. Barbecued chicken also works well with a light red, most notably Malbec, which is the perfect foil for the touch of added smoky char.The Mid Range

    Poultry like quail, duck, pigeon (squab), pheasant, guinea fowl and turkey leg meat fall somewhere in the mid range on the poultry meat scale. On the whole, these meats are probably best suited to a light red wine like a Pinot Noir, however they can be equally well suited to a complex Chardonnay, especially if served with lighter sauces or in a salad. The classic Duck à l’Orange will work really well with a Riesling or Gewurztraminer.Once again, the heavier the sauce, the heavier you can go with the wine. These meats can handle medium-bodied red wine styles quite deliciously if the sauce is suitably hearty to stand up to the wine. Asian flavours like Chinese Five Spice are simply perfect with a Pinot Noir, spicy Grenache or lighter-bodied Shiraz. Rich mushroom sauces will beautifully offset a medium-bodied red like a Merlot or a lighter Shiraz style.The Darker Side

    The darkest poultry meats include partridge, goose, emu and ostrich. At the extreme end of the spectrum these meats can almost be as rich and dark as beef in flavour and accordingly can be matched with medium red wines, even verging on full-bodied. As the texture of the meat is still relatively delicate and tender, however, the really full-bodied and tannic styles of wine are best avoided. Grenache and Shiraz are delicious options here due to their plush, juicy mid-palates, which are a wonderful complement to the plump fleshy meats. Classic Pairings

    Next time you’re eating out or doing some adventurous cooking at home why not try some of these classic pairings and let us know which ones work best for you?Thai Chicken Larp with Yellow Label MoscatoChiken Tikka Masala with Red Label Traminer RieslingDuck à l’Orange with Gold Label RieslingHerb-Crusted Poached Chicken Breast with Yellow Label Sauvignon BlancChinese Five Spice Quail with Gold Label Pinot NoirPeking Duck with Gold Label Shiraz ViognierBarbecued Emu Steaks with Grey Label ShirazCantonese Roast Goose with Platinum Label ShirazAnd here’s one of our favourite duck recipes – the Grey Label Cabernet Shiraz is a scrumptious match for the delicious flavours of pomegranate.
    Roast Duck Breast with Pomegranate

    Serves 44 duck breasts2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses2 pomegranatessalt & peppermicro-herbs of your choice to garnishPlace duck breasts, skin side down, in a cold ovenproof frying pan. Heat the pan over a high flame until the skin is golden and the fat has rendered out of the skin. Turn the duck over and place the pan in a preheated 220°C oven for around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with pomegranate molasses while hot, then leave to rest for 5 or 6 minutes.Bash upturned halved pomegranates with a wooden spoon over a bowl to release seeds.To plate up, drizzle the duck breast with pan juices, avoiding too much oil, and squeeze over a little pomegranate juice from any remaining seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and a few fresh micro-herbs and you’re done.Enjoy with a glass of Wolf Blass Grey Label Cabernet Shiraz. Simple and delicious!