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What to Drink with Goose? It's easier than you think

roast goose

People overestimate the difficulty of matching wine to roast goose. I really don't think it's tricky. I do goose at Christmas every year and often on at least one other occasion during the year and have found all sorts of different wines over the last 25+ years. I've tried various stuffings, but the recipe that I return to, because it's always popular, is a rich, flavoursome one that includes chestnuts, prunes, sausage, herbs and spice (here's my recipe). Apart from a bottle of 1980 Grange that may well be past it's best (read about my visit to the recorking clinic), I haven't decided what we're going to drink this year (yes, I know it's only days to go), but this is how I approach the choice of wine:

• Red, full, mature and really good, Old World or New.

• Depth of flavour is important.

• You don't want obtrusive young tannins - they don't work.

• The exception to the age 'rule' is Pinot Noir, although Burgundy, mature or otherwise, isn’t easy unless from a ripe vintage.

• Burgundy is easily overpowered by rich stuffings (prune, apple, chestnut, bacon, spices et al) and by gravies enriched with Madeira or Marsala. A Burgundy success that stood out was a mature Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru.

• With New World Pinot Noirs, I have had good matches with Felton Road (Central Otago, New Zealand) and Marimar Estate (Russian River Valley, California) but less success with the more European Rippon, also from Central Otago.

• Apple sauce and braised red cabbage with apple and port can be wine killers, but that doesn't stop me doing red cabbage in some years (it's so helpful to have a forgiving vegetable dish cooked in advance).

• Mature reds that have worked very well have included:

Penfolds Grange (Shiraz, Australia) several times (try any complex, mature, Shiraz-based red), Tim Adams The Fergus (Clare Valley Shiraz), Pesquera and other red Ribera del Duero (Spain), Mas de Daumas Gassac (Cabernet Sauvignon-based, Hérault, Languedoc), Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 30-year-old Chateau Musar (Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhône varieties, Lebanon), 30+ years Torres Mas La Plana (Cabernet Sauvignon, Penedes, Spain), Masi and Allegrini Amarones (Valpolicella, Italy), and in 2011 a spell-binding magnum of 1999 Serego Alighieri Valpolicella Classico Superiore, a special 650th anniversary bottling (should that be magnuming?).

• I'm wary of Bordeaux when serving rich stuffings, gravy and other accompaniments, but Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf 1989 and 1990 worked well at 20 years old (both notably ripe vintages of this Saint-Emilion) and 1986 Château Mouton-Rothschild at 25 years old was a success – more so than I was expecting.

• Alsace Pinot Gris and Pfalz Riesling Spätlese can work, especially with a fruity stuffing, but I prefer to drink red with goose.

Serego Alighieri Valpolcella

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