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7:00am Saturday 15th September 2012 in Lifestyle
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris ups her game and recommends some meaty reds.
Gunning for a good red
If you enjoy a taste of the hunting life, September signals the start of the game season and there are many flavourful wines available to accompany these wild birds of Britain.
Gamekeepers and shooting parties kicked off the grouse season on the Scottish moors three weeks ago (aka the Glorious Twelfth), and partridge, duck and goose are all coming into season now.
Rich, gamey flavours call for rouge noirs with plenty of berry-rich fruit to compliment the earthy, meaty nuances of these tasty dishes.
The shooting season continues through to the end of November, and in some cases January, so there's plenty of time to choose your style of red to match the strength and flavour of the bird, some of which will be at their best in October and November.
To get ahead of the game, Spar has a smashing merlot which offers great value if you've fallen prey to a brace of partridge. Try Spar Chilean Merlot, Central Valley, Chile (£4.79 from £5.49 until September 19, Spar), which perfectly suits the delicate, tender flesh of young birds with its plummy, blackberry forest fruits and gentle, rounded tannins.
Serve your oven-ready partridge with bacon rashers, game chips and bread sauce, and a glass of shiraz (syrah) such as Dona Dominga Single Vineyard Syrah 2010, Chile (£7.49, Waitrose) will fit the bill perfectly with its succulent spiced cherry and currant, with a dash of malbec for some added structure on the peppered finish and chewy tannins.
A menu of young grouse with its soft, succulent breast and a rich game stock suits a medium-bodied cab sav from the Languedoc such as Cabernet Sauvignon Domaine de Saissac, IGP Pays d'OC 2010, France (£7.75, www.corneyandbarrow.com). One of Corney & Barrow's best-sellers, it's earthy and minerally with berry and cedar-spice flavours, a moderate grip and a drying finish for added interest.
A luscious pinot noir suits most game birds and this velvety smooth example from Down Under is not only great value but a gamekeeper's trophy red. Try Telegraph Station Pinot Noir 2011, South Eastern Australia (£5 from £10.99 until September 25, Tesco) for a ripe and juicy pinot with an elegant mouthfeel. With real depth to the warming raspberry and black cherry flavours, the refined tannins linger delicately.
For well-hung birds that are more savoury, a weighty South African such as Extra Special Fairtrade Pinotage 2011, Western Cape, South Africa (£6.98, Asda) suits the strong tangy flavours of pheasant or duck, especially when paired with herb stuffing and Savoy cabbage. Pinotage is South Africa's speciality red grape (a cross between pinot noir and cinsault) and this juicy, powerful wine, with intense blackcurrant and plum flavours, smoke and spice, tastes great with game.
Italian wines are full of surprises and the beguiling flavours of Selvarella, Orcia Rosso DOC, Colleoni, Santa Maria 2010, Italy (£14.20, www.tanners-wines.co.uk) will continue to impress when the grouse season rolls on and casseroles start to grace the table. Warm and spicy with a forest floor of cherry and raspberry fruit, it has an earthy complexity, a seductive bouquet, good acidity and well-integrated tannins.
Tender pink duck breast that's rich in flavour suits a ruby red from the southern Rhone and the trusted Cellier des Dauphins label, a co-operative of 13 different producers, promises wine lovers a top drop with its Les Dauphins Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010 (£16.99, Tesco). With hints of clove and some rich, spiky peppery flavours in the mix too, a glass or two goes down very easily, almost without noticing. What does stand out is the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape crossed-keys hallmark embossed on the bottle, and this good expression has a drinking window of three years.
:: Best buy
A brewer's bible... A tome to the world of beer, more than 500 international beers from more than 30 countries are featured in The World Atlas Of Beer, the definitive guide to everything you ever wanted to know about prize pints. The World Atlas Of Beer by Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £25. Available now from all good book shops.
:: Liquid news
Stoli's sweet 'n' sour recipe... Stolichnaya Premium Vodka is celebrating 50 years of flavoured vodkas with the launch of the fiery and peppery Stoli Hot (£19.65, 70cl, www.thedrinkshop.com), which will add an extra kick to a Bloody Mary; and Stoli Sticki (£19.65, 70cl, www.thedrinkshop.com), which has a honeyed sweetness for those fond of a syrupy cocktail. Not convinced? Here's the recipe to try at home:
Stoli Sticki Bee's Knees
50ml Stoli Sticki Premium Vodka, 10 ml fresh lemon juice, 10ml honey syrup
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Stoli Sticki, lemon juice and honey syrup. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
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