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44 Live: Venison and Vino

As the blaze orange battalion returns from the trenches of the Wisconsin woods, many carry with them the thick, muscular deer meat that is to become a household meal in the coming weeks and months. When the stove starts cooking and your trophy turns into a delectable treat, you may have to pop open a bottle of your favorite Wisconsin wine. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when combining venison (or any wild game meat) and vino.

First of all the versatility of Wisconsin wine allows for incredible pairing potential. Whether it’s the deep robust flavor that Carl’s Wild Grape provides or the earthiness that Red Door delivers, the natural high acid levels provide the balance needed to equalize the food and wine.

Secondly, try to think of wild game and wine as more of a symphony than a dueling metal guitar battle. They should blend, balance and compliment so well that rather than recognizing differences, you’ll notice an entirely new composition.

The goal of these pairing is to compliment the natural flavors of the wild game meat with the acidity and mouthfeel of the wine, rather than fruity aromatics. This is why we primarily use reds.


This is an example of pairing body with body. A wine like Frozen Tundra Red is medium-bodied and making venison in the form of jerky creates a much less dense version of the original meat. Also, the cherry notes from the wine will compliment the salty taste of the jerky exceptionally well.


We want to emphasize the earthiness, the texture, the smokiness of both the full-bodied wine and the thick, muscular density of the meat. Both the flavors will combine to form that balanced expression we’re searching for.


The spiciness that derives from the brats can only be enhanced by the semi-sweet flavor of the wine. We’re focusing on the sweet and spicy idea here that often comes from Asian cuisine. We recommend Baco Noir or 44 Red (soon to be released).  


Wild game is best when you mix the wine you plan to pair into the cooking process. With stew and brats, put a bottle of wine into the crockpot or skillet and have the food absorb the flavors and acidity. That flavor will mirror the same expressions that you get with the wine.

As with anything related to wine, it all comes down to balance. Remember not to overpower the earthy flavor of your wild game meat with the wine you choose to pair. Also remember the versatility Wisconsin wines offer when it comes to food pairing. And finally, explore and test pairings for yourself. See what works and what doesn’t. In the end it’s all about your palate and what you enjoy. Cheers!!

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