Venison pairs well with merlot, shiraz

Published 7 December 2017

Among the many pieces of art adorning my in-laws' walls, one piece is my favorite. An engraved wood plaque that simply reads, "We interrupt this marriage to bring you the hunting season."

Venison is the first and most abundant addition to our freezer. Venison is not your average red meat, it has a rich, distinctive flavor but also is extremely lean. The key to the pairing is to stay clear of red wines with high tannin. Wines offering an ideal combination are merlot, syrah, shiraz and zinfandel. These wines will generally have less tannin but bring out the richness of the venison's gamey taste to complement the blackberry, peppery spice of these wines.

THE VALUES

2015 Carisma Mendocino Syrah, California (about $13 retail)

2015 14 Hands Merlot, California (about $14 retail)

2015 BV Coastal Merlot, California (about $11 retail)

2015 Bogle Merlot, California (about $12 retail)

THE SPLURGES

2014 Bell Canterbury Vineyards Syrah, California (about $27 retail)

2015 Charles & Charles Merlot Blend, California (about $18 retail)

2015 Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah, California (about $22 retail)

Duck breasts are notoriously fatty, which gives them delicious flavor and juiciness. Grilling is a great way to cook them to perfection giving them a little smoky flavor and creating that crackly skin so many of us enjoy. Because of the earthy smoky flavors a pinot noir is the ideal wine pairing. If you want to heighten the pairing combination, make a classic dried cherry sauce bringing the cherry flavors of the pinot noir front and center with the flavors.

THE VALUE

2015 Carmenet Pinot Noir, California (about $14 retail)

2015 Bread & Butter Pinot Noir, California (about $13 retail)

2015 A by Acacia Pinot Noir, California (about $14 retail)

2015 Angeline Pinot Noir, California (about $13 retail)

THE SPLURGES

2015 A to Z Pinot Noir, Oregon (about $19 retail)

2014 Bell Russian River Pinot Noir, California (about $50 retail)

2015 Resonance Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir, Oregon (about $47 retail)

2014 Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Washington (about $34 retail)

2014 Fulcrum Gap's Crown Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, California (about $55 retail)

Lorri Hambuchen is a member of London's Institute of Wines and Spirits. Contact her at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203, or email:

uncorked@thewinecenter.com

Food on 12/06/2017