With the great variety of wine and beer available for enjoyment today, it’s virtually impossible to say with certainty that one is better than any other.
Why? Because everyone’s tastes are different. Some people prefer flavorful red wines with meat, such as a Pinot Noir, Burgundy or Cabernet. But that doesn’t mean that a smooth, buttery chardonnay won’t be a nice addition with your favorite venison dish. Likewise, a darker beer such as stout or porter with richer, deeper flavors may be your preference. But don’t overlook a biting cider or IPA, and of course a good ol’ lager you can find in any store gets the job done well, too.
Some would turn up their noses at the thought of pairing a chardonnay or other white wine with red meat. Horrors!
But throw out the rules and find what you like best. That’s one of the great things about all the options today, from inexpensive wines and traditional beers to craft brews and more expensive wines at your local specialty shop. If you take the latter route ask for suggestions and then make your decision, possibly with two or three options to taste and compare.
DDH contributors Krissie Mason and David Draper offers these possibilities:
Serve venison with a dry full-bodied wine such as Lucas & Lewellen Syrah Noir Vertical Blend. It has rich and lingering flavors of smoky mesquite and peppered bacon that are balanced by nuances of mulberry and blackberry fruit with structured tannins, or check your local wineries for regional favorites.
For example, in my neck of the woods a venison stew pairs well with Alexis Bailly Vineyards Voyageur, named for the French-Canadian pioneers who paddled their way through the St. Lawrence Seaway. It’s a blend of Marechal Foch, Leon Millet and Frontenac grapes. Voyageur is richly flavored with bold fruit flavors of blackberries and smoky vanilla aromas. It is aged in Midwestern oak barrels. It drinks soft and supple when young, and rewards with greater complexity as it ages.
If you’re more into barley pops instead of vino, check out these beer pairings:
Pick up a rich, brown malty porter such as Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Edmund Fitzgerald. It is very smooth, with a rich, malty nose, almost herbal, that gives way to dark fruit, hops and roasted malt. It stays sharp and drinkable, and finishes with something like sweet and salty nuts.
Also check out Fuller’s London Porter, widely regarded as the World’s Finest Porter, having won awards all over the world. It is rich, dark and complex, and has an outstanding depth of flavor. It is brewed from a blend of brown, crystal and chocolate malts for a creamy delivery and balanced by traditional Fuggles hops.
Ciders in Season — There’s a reason suckling pigs get their snouts stuffed with a bright, red apple, and it’s not just because traditionally pigs are taken during the fall when apples are ripe (though that is part of the reason). It’s because the flavors work so well together — think clean, sweet and acidic vs. fatty, savory and succulent. Cider isn’t technically a beer, but the combination works so well it can’t be ignored. Look for something a little sweet and not too tart.
Reach for: Tandem Ciders Smackintosh; Angry Orchard Strawman.
Spice is Nice — When you bite into something that really burns, such as a spicy, Asian-inspired pheasant stir-fry, hit back with hops, but not too much. You still want to taste the food and too much hops can fire up the heat. Try to find a beer that treads the line between Pale Ale and IPA. They have just enough hops to temper the spice without amplifying it or overpowering the flavor of the dish. Try to find one with a citrusy tongue and drier finish that will help cut the oil of a stir-fried dish.
Reach for: Stone IPA; Red Hook Long Hammer.
’Merica — At the end of a hot day when you’re flipping venison burgers for the family, a big-bodied beer might as well be mud. For times such as these, you need cold, plentiful and light, but not too light. That means it’s time for an American lager. Your dad drank it, and his dad did, too, meaning you’re not too good for it. Sure, it sounds like its straight out of a beer commercial, but lagers are crisp and satisfying, with not so much carbonation that it slows you down.
Reach for: Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils; Miller High Life.
How About an American Original?
If you’re up for something a little stronger, don’t forget to lift a tumbler of one of of America’s genuine originals: moonshine. Droptine Persimmon & Apple Moonshine, which is only 50 proof — a far cry from some ‘shine created decades ago — is delicious and has the flavors of apple, persimmon, cinnamon and a few other spices.
While many think of moonshine as a harsh drink, fact is, moonshiners were the original small-batch craft distillers in America. Many of those moonshiners were outdoorsmen who were inspired by nature to create something special.
These artisans would infuse their moonshine with various sweet fruits that created delicious new spirits. But they were also illegal and their dedication and craftsmanship to making these sweet beverages were never fully enjoyed. Until now, and Droptine is happy to bring back the experience of how amazing a true handcrafted and infused moonshine can be.
Good suggestions! If you’re dialed in on a favorite, well, we can’t make you give up the goods to try something else. That’s up to you. But it’s always fun to try new things and that includes letting your taste buds run wild now and then.
Try This Deer Recipe
Here’s a great recipe sent in by DDH reader Kevin Naze for our popular cookbook “We Kill It, We Grill It” that’s loaded with super ideas for your deer meat. Be sure to pick up a copy or two, and if you done have any deer meat left in the freezer for these kabobs then practice with beef before deer season gets here.
KISSed (Keep It Simple, Sir) Venison Kabobs
For the skewers
1 dozen large mushrooms
2 lbs boneless venison loin
3 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 orange)
4 small, sweet onions
Wood skewers soaked in water
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp honey
Combine all the marinade ingredients (or your favorite variation) in a resealable plastic storage bag. Cut the loin into 1- to 1½-inch cubes and refrigerate in marinade for a minimum of two hours to a maximum of one day; take out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (about 30-60 min.) before draining. Save extra marinade for use while grilling.
Cut the bell peppers into inch-size chunks, large mushrooms in half and onions in quarters. If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior (use a dish or something else to hold them under), then skewer the venison, onions, mushrooms and peppers in alternating fashion.
Scrape the hot grates a final time before spraying or brushing with oil. Grill over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating 90 degrees every 2½ to 3 minutes (baste with extra marinade before each turn). When done, baste a final time, flip and wait 10 seconds before removing from grill. Let ‘em rest a minute, then serve hot with your favorite age-appropriate cold beverage!