Ideal Holiday Wines for Turkey, Venison, Duck, Goose, Rabbit, and Other Game

For those of you who love the intense flavors of quality game, the world is full of wines that match it perfectly

This is definitely carnivore season. For those of you who love the intense flavors of quality game, the good news is, the world is full of wines that match each of the meats perfectly. The important thing to remember is that the sauces and sides can have a dramatic effect on the wines. People seem to love to put something sweet on their meat during the holidays, and that will inevitably make you believe the wine is too sour. So if possible, show a little restraint with the sweet sauces and jellies, or at least warn the wine drinkers that they'll be happier if they get a good mouthful of something savory before going back to the wine.

Europeans eat a good deal more game than we do, and their wines are a great place to start for pairings. From France, Rhône's red wines are ideal with every imaginable game dish, and since they come at all prices from $10 to $1,000, any budget can be accommodated. At the bottom of the price range, Parallèle "45" ($11) is available all over town, and it provides a good hint of how great Rhônes can taste. Up a step and still widely available is M. Chapoutier's Belleruche ($14). For a full-bore fun wine, get something from the St. Joseph area. E. Guigal and Domaine Jean-Louis Chave both make great big plumy wines for around $35.

Italians also love their game, and most of the red wines of Italy will work nicely. There are many tiny Italian wineries, and many of the interesting small ones will be at just a store or two, so the best strategy is to go to a store where there's a trustworthy wine person and ask for a recommendation. That being said, one of the great bargains of Italian wine is Masi's Campofiorin Ripasso ($15), a wine with the substantial mouth cleansing acidity that game requires. Also, pay special attention to any Barberas from Piemonte, starting with La Nunsiò Ideale Barbera d'Asti Superiore ($13) ranging up to Braida Il Baciale Barbera ($28) or Bruno Giacosa ($35), all ideal with rabbit.

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