Venison steak on a plate garnished with vegetables.
Wild game pairing
Pairing Game Meat with Wine and Beer





Chicken, pork and beef are delicious, but preparing game meat can be a nice change of pace. When you pair game meat with the right wine or beer, the flavors can sing.


The fall is hunting season for Minnesota game animals such as deer, pheasant, duck, and-for lucky lottery winners-elk and bear. Some people love spending a weekend outdoors with friends, others love the skill involved, and many hunters have their own personal reasons for taking part in the sport. Even if you don’t hunt yourself, the fall months are the perfect opportunity to dive into what it really means to eat seasonally in Minnesota.
When you pair wine or beer with game meat, you have to consider that the meat is, well, gamey. It has a different texture because the animal uses its muscles more; it has a different smell. Oftentimes, the animals’ natural diet affects the taste, too.
Like all food and beverage pairings, the key is to know how to balance the fattiness, texture and flavors. With fattier meats such as duck, the hops and carbonation of beer can help take away the greasy feeling on your tongue, as can wine flavors like cherry or citrus. Venison can often be paired with drinks you would serve with beef-the main thing is to have a bold enough drink to complement the strong flavor and texture. Lighter meats such as rabbit go with lighter wines and beer, whereas denser meats like bear should pair with heavier drinks that have a rich finish, whether sweet or savory.
A near-universal pairing with any game protein is red burgundy, and here are some more pairing tips for delicious matches.
Bear: Merlot with dark cherry, chocolate, vanilla or cinnamon for a sweet finish; Mourvèdre for more of a savory pairing; grassy or hoppy beer such as an IPA can highlight that quality in the meat.
Duck: Red wine (Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon); beer with hops; and sharp fruit and fig flavors like a Belgian or brown ale.
Pheasant: Red wine (Bordeaux, Syrah, Hermitage, Côtes du Rhône, Pinot Noir if roasted) and beers (Stout, Dubbel, Bière de Garde).
Quail: Red wine (Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Merlot); white (Chardonnay with oak undertones); hoppy and bitter beer (American Pale Ale, American Brown Ale); or strong pale ale with fruity and sweet flavors.
Rabbit: Light wines (reds could include Pinot Noir, Rhône, and good white choices are Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc) and beers that have more malt and less hops (Bière de Gardes and, Belgian Saisons). Because the meat is so light, factor in the sauces you use to not overpower the natural flavors.
Turkey: Red wine (Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhône, Zinfandel) and beers (Dubbel, Bière de Garde, Oktoberfest, Scotch Ale, Brown Ale).


Venison: Red wines with earthy or smoky flavors big enough for the meat’s taste and richness (Mourvèdre, Syrah, Pinot Noir) and strong beer (Porter, Belgian Strong Ale, Double Stout). (Elk pairs similarly.)





A buck standing in a foggy field and looking at the camera.


License Dollars Create Opportunities
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, hunting and fishing license fees pay for fish and wildlife management, public land infrastructure maintenance and habitat management that DNR fish and wildlife staff perform across Minnesota. This work creates some of the nation’s most sought-after outdoor experiences. You’ll find them fishing or boating on one of Minnesota’s 5,500 fishing lakes, paddling or wading its 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams or afoot in field or forest at one of its 1,500 Wildlife Management Areas. 








wild game pairing
Food Pairings



Bacon-Wrapped Venison Tenderloin with Garlic Cream Sauce



Makes 6 servings
6 thick slices of bacon
2 (¾ pound) venison tenderloin roasts
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon onion powder, divided
kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
Garlic Cream Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 (8 ounce) package sliced cremini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped green onion or more to taste
½ cup heavy whipping cream or more to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Place bacon on a slotted baking pan.
3. Bake bacon in the preheated oven until partially cooked but still flexible, 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Brush venison tenderloins with olive oil and season with onion powder, salt and black pepper. Place tenderloin roasts side by side and wrap them together in strips of partially cooked bacon. Place into a roasting pan.
5. Roast until bacon is browned and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a tenderloin reads at least 145ºF, about 1 hour.
6. For the Garlic Cream Sauce: Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir mushroom and garlic in hot butter until mushrooms are soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir green onion into mushroom mixture; pour in cream. Cook, stirring often, until sauce is heated through. Serve sauce with tenderloins.
Recipe courtesy of allrecipes



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