When it comes to finding the perfect wine match for duck, there’s one wine that all winelovers tend to turn to first: Pinot Noir. It’s one of those harmonious food and wine matches that just works so well.
Duck and Pinot
Let’s look at why the pairing of duck and Pinot Noir works. One of the most successful combinations is Peking duck with crispy skin, plum sauce and spring onions rolled in tiny pancakes, served with delicate, ethereal Pinot Noir. The sweet, rich dark meat of the duck combined with the oil and crunch of the skin comes to life when lifted with the cherry, strawberry and wood smoke flavours of a cool-climate Pinot Noir.
The acid in the wine helps cut through the fat of the duck skin, while the savoury forest floor and mushroom-like characters in the wine help carry the savoury, soft spice flavours of the marinated duck skin and tender roasted meat.
French-style duck wine pairing
French-style duck dishes, such as that classic 1970s dinner party staple, duck a l’orange, also match beautifully with Pinot Noir. The sweetness of the orange sauce makes a good foil for the bright fruit characters of the wine. Duck meat also has the flavour and structure to carry the flavours and tannins of slightly heavier-bodied red wines like Grenache, Tempranillo, Barbera, Grenache Shiraz Mataro (GSM), and Sangiovese. Duck in orange sauce can also match perfectly with fuller-bodied Chardonnay, where the spiced vanilla oak characters will contrast nicely with the tangy sweetness of the citrus sauce.
The incredibly rich flavour and luxuriant texture of duck liver pate really needs a contrast rather than a complement. Choose a sweet white wine such as botrytis Riesling or dessert wine, or a rich, ripe Pinot Gris, with spiced cooked pear flavours that will provide a foil to the unctuous richness of the pate.
Pan-fried duck breast works well with lighter-bodied, aromatic reds such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, Sangiovese and Tempranillo. Depending on whether you accompany the duck with a fruit sauce or a cream sauce, choose the wine to complement the sauce.
Confit Duck Wine Pairing
Confit duck is a French-style dish where marinated duck pieces are slow-cooked in duck fat or goose fat until the meat is almost falling off the bone. The cooked duck can be stored refrigerated in its fat until it’s ready to use. Pan-fried then oven-baked, confit duck is beautiful served with mashed or scalloped potatoes, steamed green beans or braised red cabbage.
Naturally rich in flavour, confit duck matches well with robust, structured wines such as Cabernet Merlot blends or a spicy, elegant cool-climate Shiraz (Syrah). White wines such as Pinot Gris or aged Chardonnay also make fine matches for confit duck, along with textured whites like Marsanne, Roussanne and Gruner Veltliner.
Cassoulet wine pairing
A big, hearty cassoulet, cooked with duck, pork, sausages, white beans and speck demands a big, bold wine. Match cassoulet with a meaty Malbec or Zinfandel that has the power and structure to cut-through the richness of the dish. A Cotes du Rhone red blend or Barossa Valley GSM also makes a worthy cassoulet partner. Nebbiolo, from Italy or Australia, also carries the flavours of slow-cooked cassoulet beautifully. If you’re looking for a white wine, stick to richly flavoured and heavy textured wines such as oaked Chardonnay, aged Marsanne or Roussane or, surprisingly, crisp, zesty Riesling, or nutty, honeyed Hunter Valley Semillon.