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Hunting season is a much-anticipated time of year for many in the South. I frequently receive e-mails asking about pairing wine with wild game. Here are a few easy tips to keep in mind for pairing wines with your catch of the season.

Deer, elk, caribou and moose: Venison is now thought of as primarily deer meat, though it can be the flesh of any game animal. Venison is leaner than domestic meat and often has a distinct, hearty flavor (the term “gamy” is sometimes used). It can be compared with beef dishes like steak or hearty stew, which are consumed with heavier red wines. A good rule is to pair game with a wine that shares the same intensity as the dish. A California zinfandel or pinot noir, France’s Cote de Rhone, Chilean merlot or French Bordeaux are good choices.


  • 2008 Santa Rita Merlot, Chile (about $12 retail)
  • 2008 Mark West Pinot Noir, California (about $14 retail)
  • 2008 Angeline by Martin Ray Pinot Noir, California (about $17 retail)


  • 2008 Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel, California (about $22 retail)
  • 2008 Siduri Sapphire Hill Russian River Pinot Noir, California (about $56 retail)
  • 2006 Chateau St. Sulpice Bordeaux, France (about $20 retail)

Duck, turkey, quail and pheasant: These birds generally have earthy flavors that are much bolder than chicken.

Because of this stronger flavor, a red wine can be an ideal match. A few varietals to consider are shiraz, zinfandel, pinot noir, grenache or tempranillo. When a white wine is called for, consider heavier and full-bodied wines such as chardonnay or Riesling.


  • 2007 Bogle Chardonnay, California (about $12 retail)
  • 2008 Concannon Pinot Noir, California (about $12 retail)
  • 2008 La Playa Chardonnay, Chile (about $12 retail)


  • 2008 Gemtree Uncut Shiraz, Australia (about $36 retail)
  • 2008 Turkey Flat Grenache, Australia (about $38 retail)
  • 2008 Justin Vineyards Chardonnay, California (about $26 retail)