Venison pairs best with rich, earthy red wines such as Syrah, Barolo, Bordeaux, and Nero D’Avola. Deer meat is not high in fat when compared to beef, thus, it is not as flavourful, and will not hold up to incredibly powerful wines unless there is additional fat accompanying the dish.
There are lots of factors to consider when pairing with Venison. From the cut of the meat to if the Venison was farmed or wild. On top of that, you also have to consider how the meat is cooked, plus any sides and sauces added to the final meal. Overall, however, I feel Venison is fairly red wine friendly, as red wine has plenty of tannin and juicy fruit flavours to mask the meat’s gaminess.
Best Wine with Venison
Syrah & Venison Pairing
Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape, however, when you pick up a bottle of Syrah, you can typically expect an earthier, meatier and savoury bottle of red wine than a fruity and spicy Australian Shiraz.
Syrah has an earthy and smoky component that makes it perfect with Venison’s rich and earthy notes. Heavier Syrah is excellent for fattier cuts of Venison, while mid-bodied Syrah is best for leaner cuts. You want to balance the weight of your pairing so that you taste both the wine and the meat at the finish of each bite.
Syrah has silky tannin, providing a velvety mouthfeel and showcasing intense blackberry, cherry, and blueberry flavours that elevate the Venison’s wild taste. You also have notes of black pepper, which further adds to this incredible pairing.
Barolo and Venison
For a lean cut of Venison you’ll need to seek out an aged bottle of Barolo where time has tamed the tannin, otherwise Barolo will overpower the Venison. Barolo is a powerful, but earthy red wine that will sucker-punch you in the face as it smells deceptively like roses, but tastes like dark fruit, tar and truffles.
For younger Barolo, where the tannin hasn’t had time to tame itself down, it’s best to pair this king of wines with a rich Venison Stew incorporating fattier organ meats. Barolo needs a high-fat content to smooth out its tannin punch.
Barolo’s ripe dark fruit flavours mask Venison’s gameness, and Barolo’s truffle-like flavours go perfectly with any earthy vegetables on the side or in a Venison Stew.
Zinfandel and Venison
While Venison offers strong flavours, many cuts are leaner than beef and thus pair better with reds with softer tannin and juicy fruit such as Zinfandel. Zinfandel also has smoke and black pepper notes that complement deer meat.
Zinfandel is an acidic red, meaning it will go well with any tomato-based sauces you add to the meat. Slightly sweet, Zinfandel will go perfect with any fruit sauce as well as it features notes of cherry, strawberry, blackberry and jam.
Bordeaux & Venison Steak Pairing
Bordeaux is a blended red wine from France that has been around for centuries and has been blended in a manner to ensure it is incredibly food friendly.
Some Bordeaux do require ageing, but these not so ready for prime drinking wines will be fine with a rich venison stew where the fat content and protein will help tame the tannin. Less expensive bottles of Bordeaux will perfectly partner up with grilled Venison Steak or Burgers.
If you hunt, and have a perfectly aged bottle of Bordeaux that you have been cellaring for decades, you’ve already certainly have a venison dish in mind that you will be drinking that Bordeaux with.
Nero d’Avola and Venison Stew
Nero d’Avola is Barolo without the tannic steroid smack to the face. Again we have a thin-skinned grape with floral, tar and herbal notes that pack a heavy-hitting punch. The tannin isn’t as bold as Barolo but instead comes across as silky. There is also a significant amount of acidity in Nero d’Avola can handle any Tomato component in your Venison stew.
When paired with Venison, Nero d’Avola shifts from a zippy and dark fruit flavour to a candied fruit taste. It’s the gaminess of the Venison that creates this change, and the gamier the meat, the more candied the wine will taste. I consider this a win as the candied fruit flavours cover up the gameness of Venison that not everyone appreciates. You also have the earthy notes of the wine, such as tar and mocha, that complement any root vegetables you may have added to the stew.
Pasta with Venison Red Sauce with Chianti Classico
If your pasta sauce has ground Venison, or perhaps the pasta features Venison meatballs, Chianti Classico is a fantastic choice. Chianti is made from the Sangiovese grape, and it is acidic, meaning it will stay strong against the tart acidity of the tomato sauce. Chianti is also full of similar and contrasting flavours of cherry, earth, meat, smoke, spice, strawberry, leather, and tobacco.
Chianti also has ample tannin that is further tamed by the rich meat in the sauce. This means that each bite will have the perfect finish, containing the fruitiness of the wine, and the smoky and earthy nature of the meat.
Venison Burgers and Baco Noir
Baco Noir is medium-low in tannin and high in acidity, so it’s perfect with medium to well-done cooked Venison Burgers slathered in ketchup. The less fat that is cooked out of the meat, the more this fruity wine is going to complement it.
Baco Noir is a rich and rustic red full of blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, blueberry, meat, smoke and earth flavours. Thus, you’ll get complementary and contrasting but refreshing flavours.