Why do the world’s best chefs recommend you take time to match your wine to what’s in front of you on the dinner table?

While many also say we should drink what we like, culinary champions remain firm advocates of the benefits of a well-considered wine selection.

So what happens when two of our country’s most renowned food and beverage products come together on the table?

Leading Christchurch chef Graham Brown recently demonstrated his food-matching credentials to 600 of the world’s leading Pinot Noir advocates. Our farm raised venison also came under the matching microscope from some of the world’s best qualified gourmands.

Brown is executive chef at Deer Industry NZ and has created a farm raised venison menu especially for a recent session at the sold out quadrennial Pinot Noir Conference in Wellington.

“It was a brilliant platform,” he says. “There were all these world-renowned Masters of Wine and wine enthusiasts at the conference and we got to show them all the great things about our wonderful venison. Pinot Noir and New Zealand farm raised venison is a pairing like no other and it’s about time we started championing two of New Zealand’s greatest exports as a union.”

“New Zealand farm raised venison is lean, healthy, incredibly versatile and very easy to cook. We’re looking forward to spreading the word about it to a global audience at the conference.”

An unashamed advocate of the lean meat, Brown designed a menu for a formal delegates lunch and also conducted a talk to explain the dishes to the delegates.

“The thing is,” he says, “cooking with venison is actually very easy. Many consumers just aren’t aware of its availability in most supermarkets or of the lean meat’s versatility, which often strikes fear in the average kitchen cook.”

According to authoritative international wine magazine Wine Spectator, the secret behind many classic wine-and-food matches is in achieving balance – the wine and the dish should be equal partners, with neither overwhelming the other.

Dishes featured on the farm raised venison focused menu included Venison Medallions with Orange, Sumac and Zhoug; Venison Yakitori with Miso Dressing, and Tea-Smoked Venison with Roasted Beetroot, Walnuts, Goats Cheese with a Raspberry Vinaigrette.

The menu unveiled an array of innovative, nutritious and versatile recipes, yet simple enough for the everyday cook to recreate in the comforts of home, Brown says.

Utilising one of the most popular cuts of venison, the pan-fried medallion dish is not only perfectly complemented by the fragrant and spicy zhoug. According to Pegasus Bay winemaker, Matthew Donaldson, it also works wonderfully with a rich and full-bodied red wine – one that has dark fruity characters.

Donaldson says, “A riper Pinot Noir from Martinborough or Wairarapa Valley will pair nicely with this aromatic dish; one that has low acidity, to avoid clashing with the zhoug.”

An extremely versatile cut, the yakitori-style venison steaks are an ideal summer meal – perfect for cooking on the barbeque or griddle, which Donaldson says should be matched with “a medium to full-bodied, sweet and juicy red.”

“A low-acidic Pinot Noir from Marlborough works perfectly here, accentuating the succulent texture of the lean venison.”

Lastly, as farm raised venison is greatly suited to lighter style dishes, Brown’s tea-smoked dish is an ideal light lunch or entrée offering, especially for the balmy summer evenings ahead.

Donaldson says, “Pairing this dish with a lighter bodied Pinot Noir, which has significant acidity and vibrancy, makes for a wonderful accompaniment to the meal.

“The toasty, aromatic oak notes of a Central Otago Pinot Noir will pair with the venison deliciously in this instance, complementing the smoky notes.”

And as Brown says, “Pinot Noir is the ideal wine match for tender and delicious farm raised venison as they both have subtle gamey flavours.”

Click here for a tasty Venison Kebab recipe from www.fresh.co.nz to pair with your favourite Pinot Noir.


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