So there aren’t many delicious things out there in the world of culinary delights that I find it hard to get excited about, but when the conversation turns to duck, my enthusiasm goes to the next level. I love red meat. A perfectly grilled ribeye or striploin deliver the kind of carnal cravings I rarely find in other foods, and the savoury complex flavours of game like venison, bison, caribou, boar and elk are special treats. That said, for me a perfectly seared duck breast is the perfect adjoining of these two groups of meats – just enough complex flavour to make things interesting, while delivering that rich and fulfilling fatty red meat experience that I crave in a great steak.
Like any other meat, duck delivers a variety of textures and flavours and preparations; perhaps even more options than beef or game. From the crispy skin and delicious fleshy fulfillment of a seared duck breast, to the rich, unctuous fall-off-the-bone flavours and textures of confit, to the umami-rich indulgence of crunchy fried duck wings, there is a lot to love here. I’ve noticed an improving selection of duck to choose from in better grocery stores lately, but for the most amazing quality and choice, I’d recommend those living in (or near!) Toronto pay a visit to the rockstars at King Cole where you can stock up and satisfy all of your duck-related needs!
1. Crispy Duck Breasts w/ Glazed Carrots RECIPE
Wine Match: Aromatic white blends featuring Gewurztraminer or Viognier
2. Duck Confit in Sour Cherry Sauce w/ Apple-Fennel-Walnut Salad RECIPE
Wine Match: Good Cote d’Or red Burgundy – especially Beaune or Pommard reds
3. Slow-Cooked Duck Legs w/ Plums & Star Anise RECIPE
Wine Match: Bright aromatic white w/ great acidity like Mosel Riesling Kabinett
4. Chili-Glazed Crispy Duck Confit Wings w/ Blue Cheese Crème Fraiche RECIPE
Wine Match: Aromatic off-dry whites – especially Loire Chenin Blanc
5. The Best Duck Club Sandwich You’ll Ever Eat RECIPE
Wine Match: Lighter reds like Gamay or Pinot Noir – especially young Beaujolais
When it comes to matching wine with duck, this decadent meat has a special love affair with Pinot Noir. Much like sauces featuring sour cherry, raspberry, cranberry or other tart summer fruits, Pinot Noir provides an elegant and refreshing counterpoint to the rich texture and meaty flavours of duck. For me, the best Pinot picks skew toward the more austere end of the spectrum, coming from cooler climate regions like Burgundy, Canada or northern Italy.
Variety is the spice of life, so if you’re looking to try some new wines with your favourite duck dishes, other lighter to midweight reds like Tempranillo, Gamay and Cabernet Franc are also great options. Finally, if you’re introducing a bit of spice to the mix, you’d be well served by aromatic whites with a touch of sweetness. In this vein, consider pulling the cork from a bottle of your favourite Riesling, Chenin Blanc or even a lighter Gewurztraminer – all wines that sing next to spicier dishes.