What to DRINK With That – Duck

WTDWT - Sept 2013

L-R: Sid Cross, Alishan Driediger, Jason Yamasaki


What to DRINK with That

DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. This time we are doing DUCK – both classical and modern.


Our Experts:

Sid Cross (SC)
Food & Wine Judge, Expert
Sid Cross is the Honorary President globally for The International Wine & Food Society with vast knowledge and experience at matching food and wine. He posts interesting wine and food items on their site (http://blog.iwfs.org) every Monday. Sid judges many wine and food competitions including the Gold Medal Plates (Victoria, Nov. 7, 2013) and The Canadian Culinary Championships (Kelowna Feb. 6-8, 2014).

Alishan Driediger (AD)
Winemaker, Little Farm Winery
A cooking and language course as a 22-year old in the South of France set it all in motion for Alishan. Since then, she’s done a professional culinary diploma, started a catering company, bakes artisan bread for Farmers’ Markets, opened Okanagan Grocery in Kelowna, and been named a Top Foodie under 40 in Western Living Magazine. Her interest in wine lead Alishan to study winemaking and Agricultural Sciences, and work in wine retail in Vancouver and in wineries in the Okanagan. She has completed WSET Level 3 and is currently studying winemaking through UC Davis. Moving to a farm in the Similkameen Valley and growing Riesling and Chardonnay allows her to get her hands dirty and make her own wine!

Jason Yamasaki (JY)
Sommelier, Assistant Manager, Chambar Restaurant
Vancouver-born Jason Yamasaki began his hospitality career in high school at the proud BC institution of White Spot Restaurants. What began as an unassuming career placement program exploded into an unquenchable obsession with food, wine and hospitality. His naturally studious nature attracted him to a Bachelor’s Degree of Hospitality Management and professional accreditation though the International Sommelier Guild as well as the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Jason is currently the sommelier and assistant manager at Chambar Restaurant.


What to DRINK with:

Duck Classic:
Pan-seared duck breast with red wine & quince sauce (red wine reduction, garlic, thyme, shallots, balsamic vinegar, membrillo)

SC. Two important factors always to consider is the weight of the food and the elements of the sauce. In this prep the red wine in the sauce is a factor (whether a light Beaujolais to a sweeter Port style) as is the membrillo – a light jelly or a sweeter quince candy. Still the duck should be flavourful, juicy and slightly gamey. Pinot noir will meet the key requirement of balanced fruit weight and acidity, allowing you to enjoy the unique flavours of the duck and the sauce but have your palate refreshed by the wine’s complementing acidity. Some New World pinots may be too sweet but cooler climate earthiness from BC, Oregon, Burgundy, Mornington Peninsula Australia, or Tasmania should all work well. Other possibilities with better acidity include Bordeaux, Barbera, or Rosso di Montalcino.

AD. Love duck and love the classic, crave-able comfort-foody flavours here so I had to try to make this one (and the other recipe) last night. I thought the richness and crispy fatty goodness of the duck as well as the rich and concentrated flavours of the quince sauce were begging for the juicy refreshingness of Gamay. I’d recommend a wine with a bit of gaminess, earthiness and tart red fruit like a Cru Beaujolais. Another tasty option would be a Similkameen or Okanagan Gamay with juicy meatiness and lots of dark brambly berries.

JY. Duck – what a luxurious meat. I’m pressed to think of another protein that drips with such immediate decadence. I am looking for a red wine featuring beautifully radiant fruit with kinetic and edgy acidity to slice through the richness of both the duck and the sauce; one with a ripe core of fruit to meet the waves of meltaway meat and highlight the detailed nuances of the sauce. These layers should pop – and that’s why I’m throwing a sparkling red wine on the table for this dish: Lambrusco. Not a sweet, swathy, weedy Lambrusco; I’m craving a drier Lambrusco with tensile red and dark fruit expression and a texture of quivering effervescence to quench and refresh between bites. There are some incredible families (seek out Rinaldini) from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region taking this style very seriously and it’s an absolute delight to savour the charm of a slightly chilled sparkling red wine at the table.


Duck Modern:
Aged Duck Breast roasted on the bone with garlic, miso & lemon verbena, with Fermented Walnut and Creamed Farro

SC. This should be a sweeter and richer dish, particularly with the creamed farro – often accompanied by duck confit and mushrooms. Miso can vary a lot but fermented soy is often salty and the fermented walnut and lemon verbena will affect your perception of the wine’s acidity. A bigger, fuller Pinot noir would still be my first choice but you need acidity. It also would support aged Nebbiolo from Barbaresco or Barolo. Burgundy again, but BC, Central Otago, Chilean Casablanca or even top California should be welcome. A savoury Sangiovese or Tempranillo will be beautiful mates but be careful that if your choice is at the lowest price level of Chianti or Rioja it might be too light and acidic for this dish. Northern Rhone Syrah would be a nice treat with subtle black pepper to balance the salt. However, always be careful that the wine chosen for duck is not too big, jammy or alcoholic or you will lose the complex flavours of this delicious bird.

AD. I’m reading these ingredients and thinking earthy flavours and umami. I’d like to try a wine with a bit of its own earthiness and some meatiness. Also thinking that you’d want to watch the acid and tannin levels in the wine so you don’t get a nasty reaction with the umami flavours in the miso and end up with a sad and bitter bottle. Rioja is pretty delicious and could fit the bill with its medium acid and tannin levels and meaty flavours, spice and leather, berries and dried fruits – maybe a Reserva so there is a bit of age on it and some softer developed flavours.  Another interesting thing to try would be a richer white wine like a Chardonnay or Viognier with lots of lees contact, giving it its own yeasty umami-ness!

JY. This dish deserves a wine that is profoundly singular and original. And for that, let’s visit the Jura, France’s smallest wine region and one that showcases very idiosyncratic styles with totally unique profiles. I’m thinking white for this dish and that would mean that we’re sipping either Chardonnay, Savagnin or a blend of both. The whites from this region tend toward a streak of nutty and savoury, sherry-like characteristics that are absolutely gastronomic. This quality in wine is critical when we’re trying to match such magically complex ingredients like miso and fermented items. Don’t forget the further earthy intensity from the aging on the duck breast – mmm delicious decay. The walnut and creamed farro provides the platform for the entire experience and that’s such a natural and graceful nod to the broad and extravagant texture of Chardonnay. If you have a penchant for adventurous flavours, the mysterious wines of the Jura should be the next stop on your wine route.


Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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