Considered poultry, yet all of its meat is dark and a bit oily like a goose, you can prepare duck in many ways other than roasting. When roasted, the flavor is quite different from Duck L’Orange, which is sweet, or Confit of Duck, which is savory and silkily tender.
Knowing the wines that work well with the duck recipe you are cooking will help you make a successful pairing of flavors to serve with your special meal.
Quick Tips and Rules on Pairing Wine with Duck
Duck is an oily meat, and acidic wines pair well with most dishes you will cook with duck.
However, several flavors are going on in some duck recipes. These flavors may lend themselves better to a light-bodied red wine that is sweet or fruity. At the same time, other recipes may call for a dessert wine, sparkling wine, or Champagne.
There are many wines suggested for pairing with Foie gras, for example. Still, in my personal opinion, French Champagne works nicely.
But, of course, as with most foods, what wine is suggested to go with a particular food may not suit you. But, the best place to start when pairing foods and wines is with the tried and true.
- Slow-cooked duck can pair well with either a white or light red wine.
- Confit of duck, barbequed duck, and roast duck pairs best with a robust wine high in tannins and high acidity. A light wine low in tannins and acidity may be overpowered by the rich flavors of duck recipes.
- If you want to play it safe, you can stay in the middle of the road and serve almost any Rose with your duck recipe, and it will be okay. But, why settle for okay, when you can find a pairing that pairs with what you are cooking?
Wines to Pair with Roasted Duck
Of all the ways you can cook a duck, roasting is the most common. However, you must be careful not to dry it out.
Even though duck is oily, cooking it too fast or at too high a temperature will turn it into shoe leather, and we don’t want that. Unless you have heavily herbed a duck for roasting, its flavor will be mild, though a little gamey.
Although the meat’s full flavor comes through when you roast a duck, it doesn’t require a full-bodied wine as a pairing, as the flavor of the duck may overpower it. When a duck is roasted, it is cooked slowly, and the typical seasonings are only salt and pepper.
My grandmother served roasted duck in her restaurant on Sundays when it was available. She would wrap each duck individually in foil and roast them at a low temperature for several hours. People would line up around the restaurant to dine on her Sunday dinners. Still, duck and turkey with dressing were special and the most popular.
It was much later that I tried wine with duck, and several will go with yours, too.
Although not available until November of every year, Beaujolais is an excellent pairing with roast duck. Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese, a nice Bordeaux, or a Cabernet Sauvignon will also pair well with roast duck.
Finding a wine to pair with roast duck is easier than with other recipes, as it has a milder flavor and is not seasoned as heavily.
Wines to Pair with Confit Duck
Confit duck is a dish that will require a full-bodied red wine; otherwise, the rich oily flavor may overpower your wine.
However, a wine heavy in tannins and acidity will cut through the strong tastes and meld with the flavors of this wonderful culinary delight.
Confit of duck is a French dish, and the word Confit in that language means “preserved.” Some recipes call for the duck to be rubbed with salt and marinated with a blend of ground shallots, garlic, onion, thyme, and parsley when preparing duck in this manner.
After marinating the duck for 24 hours, you cook it in its fat, low, and slow, making any tough parts tender and infusing the mirepoix’s full flavor into the meat. As you notice, these are intense flavors and, along with the strong flavor of the duck meat and its fat, require the pairing of strong wine.
Red wines, high in tannins and acidity, such as Pinot Noir, Petite Siran, Syrah, Cabernet, and Nebbiolo, will pair best with Duck Confit. The richness of your recipe won’t overpower the boldness of their flavors.
However, if your preference is white wine, Muscadet, Chablis, and Riesling are higher in tannins than other white wines.
Wines to Pair with Duck a L’Orange
The confit of duck is savory; however, Duck L’Orange is not and calls for a different approach when choosing a wine pairing.
A well-prepared Duck L’Orange will have a crispy skin, succulent meat, and a creamy, orangey sauce that draws the flavors of this classic recipe together.
The recipe for Duck L’Orange is similar to that of Confit duck. However, the addition of navel oranges, currant jelly, vinegar, and sugar gives the dish an entirely different flavor profile that calls for a distinct wine pairing.
Due to the sweetness of this recipe, your choice of wines is broader, and Pinot Noir is the go-to for any recipe that includes duck. The acidic, medium-bodied flavor has the flavor of raspberries, cherries, and the earthiness of mushrooms. When aged in oak, this delightful wine will take on notes of allspice and vanilla.
Another red wine that will pair well with Duck L’Orange is Bordeaux, which is full-bodied and bold.
However, if you desire white wine with your Duck L’Orange, try a Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, or even sparkling wine to enhance the flavor of this dish.
As with all the recipes we cook, what works for me in the wine department, may not work for you, so try more than one variety of wine to decide which best suits your palate.
Wines to Pair with Peking Duck
You can order Peking duck in most Asian restaurants or cook it at home, and the wine pairing will be whatever you choose, instead of someone’s house wine.
The flavors of this recipe are complex and require a bold wine that will complement its sweet spiciness. Unfortunately, Peking duck takes time to prepare and takes even more time to cook. So, if you order it out, be prepared to wait.
Like Duck L’Orange, Peking duck is a salty, sweet, and sour dish; however, it is also spicy. It’s Thanksgiving spicy, though, not hot pepper spicy. The spices used to season this recipe include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, honey, and soy sauce.
Each of these flavors alone is bold and, when combined, can overpower all but the most full-bodied red and white wines.
Wines that pair best with Peking Duck will need to complement its sweetness and include Riesling, or Gewürztraminer, both full-bodied white wines.
Or, if you desire a red wine, then Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, or Grenache all have the fruity flavor and boldness to stand up against the intense flavors of Peking duck.
Wines to Pair with Foie Gras
Foie Gras is a French delicacy; you will typically serve it as an appetizer accompanied by a sweet or fruity white wine.
However, I can attest that it also goes well with dry French Champagne. Or, perhaps the Foie Gras was merely an excuse to consume Champagne. As if one needs a reason when it’s offered!
Made from duck or goose livers, Foie Gras, another French recipe, can be served on crackers or bread, as you would pate’. Or it can be pan-seared and served with a sauce as an elegant appetizer for a special occasion.
The classic recipe for Foie gras is duck or goose liver, salt, and pepper. However, some chefs will add Cognac or a Sauterne, paprika, or nutmeg to enhance the flavor of the liver in this recipe.
The best wines to drink with Foie gras terrine, or sautéed Foie gras, are sweet red wines, such as a Sauterne whose notes of butterscotch, ginger, caramel, citrus, and apricot pair well against the livery, salt, and peppery flavor of Foie Gras.
Another white wine with fruity notes, Riesling, is also a good pairing with Foie Gras. For something a little different, a Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, and Champagne are all suitable for serving with Foie Gras.
Wines to Pair with Smoked Duck
Because fatty meat takes on the flavor of smoke so well, duck is an excellent meat to smoke.
You can buy smoked duck commercially, or if you have the equipment and a sense of adventure, you can do it yourself. Finding smoked duck on a restaurant menu is difficult, but roasting or cooking it shouldn’t be that difficult if you have a duck to cook.
Many cooks will soak a duck in brine before they smoke it. This practice will help them stay moist because even though ducks are very fatty, they will dry out if cooked too quickly or if they are cooked without adding moisture of some kind.
Since you don’t cook smoked duck with vegetables that add water to the process, brining is how you keep your duck moist, especially if you have a duck that is a bit on the lean side. It isn’t a necessary step. However, that may be the difference between a tough, dry bird and a succulent one.
The wines that pair best with the rich flavor of smoked duck are robust reds, and again, you can’t go wrong with a Pinot Noir with any duck recipe.
In addition, you will want a fruity red wine paired with smoked duck; Syrah and Zinfandel are excellent choices that go well with any smoked red or dark meat.
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewürztraminer, all full-bodied white wines, also have the substance to stand up against the intense flavors of smoked duck.
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