A friend who is a published author, was kind enough to share some of her hints, contacts and encouragement when we met last Friday evening. Of the magazines she suggested approaching, I received a prompt response from the Lake Country Journal. They were interested to see 650 words by May 15th for their fall issue.
Here is my article on food and wine pairings for the hunter.
Fall speaks a special language to many Minnesotans. The riot of colorful leaves visually shouting their demise, explosive cackles of pheasants, muffled quacks from the waterfowl blind and snorts of passing deer. These sights and sounds evoke both an emotional and gastronomical response in our home. Hunting licenses, stamps, shells, clothing and wine are purchased in anticipation of fresh game. Does wine seem like an unlikely item on a hunting list? I hope after reading this article, it will become a natural addition.
Wine was an integral part of the post hunt feast since the early hunter gatherers of Egypt, Greece and Europe. From these celebrations, we learned that food and wine complement each other. Flavors are heightened, social gatherings are enhanced and memories are made.
So how do you know what wine to buy and serve? The easiest way is to match the body or weight of the food with the body style of the wine. The most often used analogy for understanding body styles in wine is to imagine drinking a glass of skim milk as opposed to a glass of heavy cream. You will notice a difference in the way each liquid coats your mouth and tongue. Now compare a lighter bodied wine such as a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to a heavier bodied buttery California Chardonnay. My mother-in-law’s pheasant in cream sauce would overpower the citrus flavors of the Sauvignon Blanc but the similar creaminess of the Chardonnay, with its characteristic apple flavor would be a perfect match.
Because pheasant is not a strong flavored or heavy meat, the cooking method and sauces that are used, affect the wine selection. Our favorite preparation of pheasant is in stir fry dishes; however fiery foods can be a challenge in wine pairings. By complementing the dish with a spicy and slightly sweet German Gewürztraminer, the heat from the sauce is tamed while accentuating the Asian flavors.
Duck is a staple not only in gourmet restaurants but also many Minnesota kitchens in the fall. The rich, moist, dark meat best lends itself with tart fruit or wine based sauces. A woodsy, earthy, yet fruity Pinot Noir from Oregon, with its mellow tannins, will cut through the fattiness in the meat. Or if teriyaki bacon wrapped duck hot off the grill is more your thing, a fruity French Beaujolais with moderate acidity and low tannins is an excellent match for the smoky-char flavor.
Now it’s time to bring out the big guns, both literally and in our wine choices. Deer hunting can be a right of passage for young hunters, a life-long passion that borders on an obsession and a bonding experience between family, friends and nature. It also provides the cook with both lean cuts of meat as well as cured products. If steaks, roasts and stews are on the menu, head right for a California Cabernet Sauvignon or Argentinean Malbec. These highly tannic, robust reds can stand up to the sometimes “gaminess” of venison.
If you process your deer into sausage, ask for some with Italian seasonings. The most amazing venison and wine combination you will ever taste is a sausage, peppers and Parmigiano-Reggiano penne skillet with a mildly tannic Tuscan Sangiovese. Now you can understand why all those straw-covered bottles once graced Italian restaurants. This grape is the main variety in all Chianti. Savory foods like cured meats, aged cheese and tomatoes can battle with red wines due to a receptor in your taste buds called umami. What does ooo-MAH-mee mean? It is the word for “yummy” in Japanese and was identified in 1908 as the fifth taste bud sensation. Chianti’s status has been recently elevated with enforced quality standards so look for one that has "reserve" on the label. It is the everyday red wine we enjoy in our home.
Has all this talk about food whetted your appetite for a trip to your local liquor store? Great! Here is my list, and could you also pick up some extra shells?
Thanks again Norma and wish me luck!