Duck has become a popular meat in recent years, rivaling steak for top place. However, does it pair with wine? The resounding answer is yes, and in this article, we will tell you which are the best wines to pair with a duck dish.
Why Should You Pair Wine with Duck?
The reason you pair wine with food is to enhance its flavor, and duck is no exception. However, unlike steak, you have more choices of wine. Steak should always be paired with red wine but when it comes to duck, you can also pair it with white wine.
Which color you go for depends on the way the duck has been cooked.
Much of the time, wine is served with duck in order to bring down the intensity of the fat in the meat. The acidity in the wine lessens the overpowering feeling of oil that the duck gives. This gives you a pure meat flavor.
The 4 Best Red Wines to Serve With Duck
You really can’t go wrong serving red wine with duck. The high acidity of most red wines and the concentration of tannins enhance the flavor of the meat. Red wines easily break down the fat in the duck.
Duck is much fattier than other poultry such as chicken and turkey and red wine helps to lessen the feeling of too much fat on your palate. You can even put red wine in a glaze for the duck.
Let’s now look at the top four red wines to pair with duck.
1 – Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is top of the list when it comes to a red wine pairing with duck. It is a good choice if you aren’t that knowledgeable about wine as it is such a flexible wine and it can go with different methods of cooking duck.
Pinot Noir tastes of dark red fruit, especially cherry and raspberry, mushroom, the forest floor, cloves, and spices. Since duck cooks well with fruit, the fruity notes of Pinot Noir make a good match. Think duck in a plum sauce and duck a l’orange.
This wine is highly acidic so can balance the strong flavors of roast duck and cut through any fattiness.
2 – Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon has dark fruit flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, and blackberry, with hints of green bell pepper, spice, tobacco, oak, and vanilla. It has strong tannins and high acidity which balance the flavors of duck meat.
A young Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with duck confit because of its high tannin content. While a young Cabernet Sauvignon can be astringent when it comes up against fatty and meaty pieces of duck confit, the wine will soften, and the blackcurrant flavor will come out.
Cabernet Sauvignon also pairs well with duck ragu, a rich dish. The subtle oak tones complement the duck and the acidity of the wine cuts through the fattiness of the meat.
3 – Syrah
Syrah has a range of flavors depending on where it was produced. It can taste of smoked bacon, herbs, red and black fruits, white and black pepper, or can even have floral violet notes. It is a dry, full-bodied wine with low to medium acidity, high alcohol content, and strong tannins.
It provides a fruity flavor to a duck dish. However, because it has lower acidity than many red wines and is sweeter, it will pair best with a lightly seasoned duck dish or crispy duck.
In addition, Syrah goes with Peking duck pancakes and smoked duck as it elevates the flavor of the meat with its fruity notes. It also doesn’t overpower the meat.
Duck confit is another choice as the tannins in the wine become softer. The wine also cuts through the fattiness of the dish.
4 – Merlot
Merlot is a little fruitier than Cabernet Sauvignon but it is still a dry wine. It tastes of berries, with some earthy notes like vanilla, clove, and coffee.
Merlot has low acidity, and this pairs well with Chinese-style duck dishes especially those with a hoisin sauce, a type of smoky barbecue sauce. It also goes well with smoked duck meat. The earthy notes complement the smokiness of the duck dish.
However, despite the lower acidity, the wine has strong tannins, meaning that it can break down the fat in specific cuts of duck meat, especially the breast.
The 3 Best White Wines to Serve With Duck
Unlike with most red meats, you can pair white wine with duck but it is different compared to pairing duck with red wine. White wine is generally fruitier, and sweeter than red wine so can add a fruity and zesty flavor to the duck dish.
Because of this, white wines pair well with smoked and roasted duck. The zest of the wine balances out the earthy taste of the duck.
Let’s look at the top 3 choices of white wine.
1 – Riesling
Riesling is the first choice of white wine to pair with duck. It tastes of peach, pear, grapefruit, apple, apricot, and other fruits. Sweeter Rieslings tend towards apricot and peach, while dry Rieslings have intense notes of apple and grapefruit.
Because of their milder taste and higher acidity, dry Rieslings are the best choice, and they can go with several duck dishes, from the simpler flavors of toast duck to the rich flavors of duck confit. The acidity of the wine cuts through the fattiness of the meat.
The apple and grapefruit flavors of dry Riesling pair well with duck a l’orange. It is better not to pair a sweet Riesling with a fruity duck dish as the sweet flavors may overpower the glazes and marinades.
2 – Pinot Gris
Pinot Gris has flavors of lime, lemon, pear, nectarine, and apple. Depending on where the grapes are grown, it can have hints of honey, floral aromas, and a salt-like minerality. It is made from the same grape as Pinot Noir and has similar flavors, although it is a little fruitier and sweeter.
Despite being a white wine, it has high acidity.
Pinot Gris has the ability to cut through the fat of duck dishes because of its acidity. An off-dry Pinot Gris goes well with roast duck, as well as glazed and saucy duck dishes. The meat will develop a purer and more intense flavor.
3 – Chardonnay
Chardonnay, if unoaked, has flavors of lemon zest, green apple, and grapefruit. If it is oaked, it will also take on flavors of vanilla and spice if oaked. It is a very popular choice of wine the world over.
Because the wine has low acidity, it is best not to pair it with a fatty duck cut like the breast or with a dish such as duck confit. Pair it with a duck dish with an acidic sauce like duck a l’orange. The wine provides a citrusy edge to the duck meat.
Is it Possible to Pair Sparkling Wine With Duck?
Generally, you would serve either red or white wine with a duck dish but it is possible to serve duck with sparkling wine. Sparkling wines often have a sweet and citrusy flavor and this complements smoked and roasted duck dishes.
Let’s look at 2 sparkling wines.
1 – Champagne
Champagne is a wonderful drink to have at a celebration. It has flavors of peach, cherry, citrus, almond, cream, and toast. Because it has a sweeter flavor, it is best paired with plain and earthy duck dishes such as roast and smoked duck. Don’t pair it with a sweet dish like duck l’orange as you’ll get sweetness overload.
2 – Sparkling Rose
Sparkling rose wine has a milder flavor than Champagne so it can be paired with duck in a decadent sauce such as duck in a plum sauce or duck in a redcurrant jus. It is also good with appetizers that have a small amount of duck in them. This is because it has lower acidity than Champagne.
The Benefits of Pairing Wine with Duck Dishes
There are plenty of benefits of pairing wine with duck, not just because you like both duck and wine. Let’s take a look at some of them here.
Excellent Palate Cleanser
One advantage of pairing duck with wine is that the wine can cleanse your palate. Try taking a couple of sips of wine with every bite of your meal. This will restart your palate.
The best wines to cleanse your palate are dry wines as they generally have more acid. Acidic wines have the great ability to refresh your taste buds even with one small sip.
Wine Can Cut Through the Fat Content of Duck
Oiliness and fattiness can interfere with your enjoyment of a meal. Duck is a fatty meat, and the fat can compromise the flavors of the meat. Wine has the ability to break down the fat content of the duck allowing you to enjoy the flavors. An acidic wine is best for cutting down the fat.
Wine Can Be Used in Sauces and Glazes
Yes, you can enhance the flavors of your duck dish by adding it to sauces and glazes. Red wines are the best for this. After all, you can have a wine-glazed steak or add wine to a beef bourguignon, so why not use it for your duck dish?
A wine sauce glaze makes the duck meat juicier and more tender. This is a good idea if you are cooking duck breast as it tends to become dry when cooked. You could also add red wine to a duck ragu or plum sauce. It will give an extra fruity flavor.
As can be seen, duck and wine are a match made in heaven. What is even better, you can enjoy either white or red wine with your duck dish. Keep this list with you so that you can get the perfect pairing.