Wine Questions

What wine goes with Duck?

It’s the year of the pig… so go with duck

For something different, try duck

While duck has always been on the menu in restaurants, and many Kiwi families enjoy duck during the shooting season, duck is now readily available in supermarkets, with duck breasts, half duck, duck confit and other variations on offer. This presents a new conundrum for some: if you're serving duck at a dinner party, what wine should you choose?

Duck and Pinot Noir

When it comes to finding the perfect wine match for duck, there's one wine that almost all winelovers always turn to first, and that's Pinot Noir. It's one of those food and wine marriages that just works so well. But why is this?

Pinot and Peking Duck

One of the most successful combinations is Peking duck with crispy skin, plum sauce and spring onions rolled in tiny pancakes, and served with a delicate Pinot Noir. The rich, sweet dark meat of the duck combined with the oil and crunch of the skin comes to life when lifted with the cherry, strawberry, plum and spicy flavours of Pinot Noir like those from Central Otago, Marlborough or Martinborough.

The acid in the wine cuts through the fat of the duck skin, while the savoury forest floor and mushroom characters in the Pinot help carry the savoury, soft spice flavours of the marinated duck skin and tender roasted meat. If you’re a Pinot fan and haven’t tried this food match, you should.

French-style duck wine pairing

French-style duck dishes, such as that Kiwi 1970s classic dinner party staple, duck a l'orange, also match beautifully with Pinot Noir. The sweetness of the orange sauce balances out the bright fruit characters of the wine.

Duck meat also has the flavour and structure to carry the flavours and tannins of red wines like Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Barbera. Duck in orange sauce can also match perfectly with fuller-bodied Chardonnay. Here, the spiced vanilla oak characters contrast nicely with the tangy sweetness of the citrus sauce.

What goes with Duck Liver Pate?

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.

Pan-fried duck breast

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 is meat such as goose, duck or pork that has been cooked and preserved in its own fat. 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 is stored in the fridge in its fat until it's ready to use. Pan-fried then oven-baked, confit duck is delicious when 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 like Cabernet Merlot blends or a spicy, elegant cool-climate Syrah (Shiraz). White wines such as Pinot Gris or aged Chardonnay also make good matches.

Cassoulet: perfect winter dinner party fare

A cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole typically made with duck, goose or pork sausages. As perfect winter fare, a hearty cassoulet, cooked with duck, pork sausages, and white beans demands a big, bold wine. A Hawkes Bay Cabernet or Bordeaux-style blend, or a Côtes du Rhône red blend makes a worthy cassoulet partner.

If you're looking for a white wine, stay with richly flavoured and heavy textured wines such as oaked Chardonnay, aged Marsanne or Roussane or, surprisingly, crisp, zesty Riesling.