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Wines to drink with Christmas duck or goose

Pinot Noir is a classic match for duck if you're planning to veer away from the traditional turkey, but there are always other options. Here are some things to consider, with a selection of wines recently reviewed by Decanter experts.

Here are some wine options to consider if you’re planning to opt for duck or goose this Christmas, drawing on previous advice published on Decanter.com and recommendations from Decanter experts.

A few styles to consider for wine with duck or goose this Christmas

  • Pinot Noir 
  • Gamay
  • Barbera
  • Rosé Champagne 
  • Riesling
  • Pinot Gris

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A great quality roast Christmas duck or goose will give you a richer, fattier meat on the festive dinner table compared to turkey.

Goose is actually the traditional English bird for Christmas dinner, while duck can offer heaps of flavour without giving you weeks of leftovers if there is a smaller gathering around the table.

There are different strategies to food and wine pairing, and you can find a summary of the key ones in this excerpt from The Wine Bible, by wine writer Karen MacNeil.

One option for duck or goose is to choose a wine with relatively high acidity that will cut through the fat content of the meat, but which also has the fruit concentration and weight to stand up to the stronger flavour.

The particular flavours in a sauce or stuffing mix might also affect your choice.

For example, Matthieu Longuère MS, of Le Cordon Bleu London, wrote in this previous Decanter article that any white wine paired with classic duck a l’orange ‘needs to have enough acidity and a hint of richness to cope with the sauce, yet enough body not to be overwhelmed by the texture of the bird’.

He suggested looking to Pinot Gris from Alsace ‘with a bit of bottle age’, or to Mencia from Spain’s Galicia region for red wine.

Pinot Gris could also be interesting to try with roast goose. Styles can lean more towards orchard fruit, such as apple and pear, or tropical fruits like pineapple, so it’s worth doing some research.

Common attributes of ginger spice and also a subtle touch of sweetness may work alongside a goose roasted with a classic five spice mix, for instance.

Alternatively, the rich texture and balance of acidity in many top Riesling wines could be interesting to explore.

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Red wines with roast duck or goose

Medium-bodied reds with a good concentration of bright red fruit and relatively high acidity should work well here. Some oak and tannin influence can add depth, but watch out for them overpowering the other elements.

Pinot Noir is regularly cited as the go-to wine for duck, although you’ll still find styles that differ in intensity and in their balance of aromas.

You could also try bolder styles of Gamay wines, such as those from the Morgon cru in Beaujolais. Examples of Gamay can be found elsewhere in the world, from Stellenbosch to Oregon.

Barbera, known for delivering delicious red fruit and high acidity, is another good option for duck – as cited by food and wine expert Fiona Beckett, of matchingfoodandwine.com, in an article for Decanter back in 2007.

Some fuller-bodied rosé Champagnes have the complexity and freshness to work brilliantly with roast duck, too, and many producers believe their cuvées are widely underrated at the dinner table.

Inspiration for pairing wines with duck and goose this Christmas:

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Wine with Christmas turkey

 See our full guide on matching wine with duck

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