Poultry is a popular category of meat all over the world. While most people connect it to chicken, other delicious poultry meats make great dishes as well. One of them is duck. Some of the best duck dishes come from France, but Asian countries also have a tradition of making fabulous duck meals. And many of them are even better with the right glass of wine. But which duck and wine pairings actually work?
Which Wine to Pair with Duck?
Duck can be quite versatile, depending on the preparation method. In general, however, you should pair duck with either a light red wine or a medium- to full-bodied white wine. Rosé wine is a good alternative in most cases, too.
Before we go into specific duck and wine pairings, let’s have a quick look at the characteristics of duck meat.
What Is Duck and How Does It Taste?
Duck meat belongs to the category of poultry and thus is considered white meat. That’s despite the fact that it’s darker than other poultry meats. Typically, duck meat comes from either the breast or the legs. In comparison with chicken, it’s fattier and more flavorful. In some cases, it might remind you of game rather than poultry.
The Best Duck and Wine Pairings
To compose the best flavor combinations, you should consider the specific dish. That includes the preparation method, the seasoning, and the side dishes. Some of these combinations might call for other wines than those stated above. So let’s talk about the most popular duck dishes and the matching wines.
Peking Duck and Wine
One of the most popular dishes from Asian cuisine is Peking duck. It’s also one of the oldest recipes with a history going back to the 13th century. The duck gets cooked until its skin becomes golden and crispy, and the meat is very tender. Usually, Peking duck comes with steamed spring pancakes, different vegetables, and sauce. Hoisin sauce is the traditional choice that adds powerful sweet, salty, and spicy aromas. Another option is a plum sauce, which is more viscous and not as salty and spicy.
Peking Duck with Vegetables and Spring Pancakes
The right wine to match these flavors is a fruity red with a medium body. Think of a Grenache or a Pinot Noir. Their aromas of red fruits match the meal’s flavor profile superbly, while their tannins aren’t too powerful. A Zinfandel can be a good match as well, given it isn’t too bold.
For white wine lovers, a Chardonnay is a nice pairing for Peking duck. Make sure to go on an unoaked wine, though. It should be ripe and feature notes of tropical fruit to complement the dish’s aromas.
Orange Duck and Wine
A traditional recipe from France is Orange Duck (or “Canard à l’Orange”, as the French say). Especially for Christmas, this crispy roast is a delicious classic. Orange duck features rich meat, sweetness and acidity from oranges, and subtle tart and bitter notes.
The right wine to pair orange duck is a fruity white wine from France. It needs some acidity to cut through the meat, but it should be low in tannins. Go for an Alsace Gewürztraminer or a Chenin Blanc from the Loire region.
If you are a fan of bold whites, here’s another suggestion: The spicy vanilla notes of an oaked Chardonnay are a great add-on for orange duck.
Confit de Canard and Wine
Another classic duck dish from France is “Confit de Canard” (English: preserved duck). As the name hints, this preparation method was a means to preserve duck for later consumption originally. Nowadays, refrigerations can do this job much better. But the French still follow this preparation technique to create a very flavorful meal.
First, the meat is marinated with salt, pepper, and other spices and herbs such as bay leaves, garlic, or thyme. Then, it slow-roasts in its own fat for up to 24 hours, traditionally in a copper pot. After this preparation, it’s so flavorful that you can serve it without a sauce. Instead, it goes with scalloped or mashed potatoes and steamed or fried vegetables.
Confit de Canard might be the most wine-friendly duck dish and allows for a variety of pairings. A very common recommendation to enjoy with this dish is Alsace Pinot Gris. Vintners harvest the grapes for this white wine late in the year, so they contain a lot of sugar. The wines they make from these grapes are medium- to full-bodied and deliciously sweet.
In case you aren’t a fan of sweet wine, try a Marsanne or a Roussanne wine. Both varieties are native to the French Rhône Valley and produce dry, medium-bodied white wines that feature citrus and tropical fruit flavors. A red alternative to pair with Confit de Canard is, for instance, Burgundy wine. Make sure to pick a lighter rather than a bolder style.
Foie Gras and Wine
Here is another French duck dish: Foie gras. It’s made from a duck’s liver (or alternatively a goose’s liver) and is considered a delicacy in France. Traditionally, the French season foie gras with mushrooms and cognac (or a similar spirit), cook it at low temperatures, and serve it cold. But it becomes more and more common to grill, roast, or sear it at higher temperatures. No matter the preparation, foie gras is a rich and fatty dish that calls for a juicy wine.
A sweet dessert wine is a perfect wine for foie gras. To cut through the fat, it should have a high acidity level. Noble rot wines such as Hungarian Tokaji or French Sauternes belong to this category. They both have an outstanding balance, so neither their acidity nor their sweetness dominates the taste. The formerly mentioned Alsace Pinot Gris is less sweet but nevertheless a fine wine pairing for foie gras.
More Details on Tokaji: WHAT IS TOKAJI WINE AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Duck Curry and Wine
Asian cuisine is famous for its fabulous curry dishes. And one of the best curry dishes is Thai Red Curry. This dish from Thailand offers a complex combination of aromas, including hot chiles, spicy onions, salty fish sauce, a bit of sugar, and multiple herbs. Chefs prepare it with all types of meats. When they choose duck, they typically use breast meat, either with or without the skin. The result is a rich, mildly spicy meal.
To match this complex flavor profile, choose a semi-dry white wine. Especially wines with aromas of citrus or tropical fruit complement the curry flavors excellently. They need a good acidity level to help clean your palate and reduce the heat after having a bite. Gewürztraminer from the Alsace region in France is precisely that. And you might also find bottles from California or Washington State that fulfill these criteria.
Duck Cassoulet and Wine
Last but not least, here’s another French dish: Duck Cassoulet. Cassoulet is a stew made from white beans, bacon, garlic, and several herbs. Besides, it contains at least one, but often multiple types of meat such as beef, pork, lamb, goose, or duck. All ingredients slow-cook in a ceramic pot called “Cassole”, from which the dish’s name derives.
Duck Cassoulet is a very hearty, flavorful meal. To counter the dominating meat aromas, you need a powerful, full-bodied wine. For red wine lovers, a bold Zinfandel, Malbec, or Barolo is the right choice. These wines have the tannins, the acidity, and the structure it needs to stand the rich Cassoulet.
In case you prefer white wines, you are somewhat limited in your options. Only full-bodied whites that spent some time aging in oak barrels have the power to stand Duck Cassoulet. Try a New World Chardonnay, for example, from California or Australia.
More Details on New World Wine: COMPARING OLD WORLD WINE VS. NEW WORLD WINE
There is a wide variety of great duck dishes. You can consider many of them festival dishes as they are so rich in flavor (and require plenty of time for preparation). And what could be better than a delicious festival meal with a fine glass of wine? With the information from this article, you are ready to compose great duck and wine pairings and provide a fantastic culinary experience to your guests.