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6 min read

Bucks, Brews, and Full-Bodied Reds: Best Drinks to Pair with Venison

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There's nothing better than seeing a white-tailed buck emerge from the tree line during deer hunting season in Minnesota. You channel your excitement, steady your breathing, line up your crosshairs, and pull the trigger. If you're lucky enough to hit your target, you'll be enjoying pounds of venison in no time. To celebrate your victory and complement the flavors of your venison, why not pair it with some vino or beer.

Pairing wine and beer with your venison doesn't have to be tricky. You're looking for full-bodied reds when it comes to wine and sturdy, malt-based brews when it comes to beer. There are plenty of great options to consider. Here are some of our favorites.

Big Wines for Your Big Game Feast

Chateau Talbot This 2011 red Bordeaux from the Saint Julien region of France is lovely and on sale.

La Historia di Italia 2011- A lovely Merlot for the occasion, a perfect Merlot for a venison tenderloin or rack.

Barbaresco Batasiolo 2009 - A robust, full-bodied red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape in the Piedmont region of Italy. A nice sale price too.

El Jamon Garnacha 2012 - This Spanish wine is delightful and a steal at under $10 on sale.

Vina Robles Cabernet - This California Cab doesn't disappoint. Bring it home today.

Limerick Lane Zinfandel - A Sonoma Valley Zin perfect for any cut of venison.

Napa Cellars Zinfandel - Big, bold, delicious and on sale for well under $20.

Aquaribay Malbec - From Argentina comes a great value wine that delivers. You'll want a case of this.

Caliterra Reserva Carmenere - An intense Chilean wine with deep ruby to violet-red color that's full of berry aromas. It has a lot going on for $10.99.

Bold Brews to Complement Your Venison

If you're not a big wine drinker, pick a beer that brings out the flavor of your prepared venison. Since venison tastes similar to beef in that it's heavy and meaty, you'll want a a sturdy beer to go with it, preferably with a malt base. Here are a few to choose from:

Brooklyn Brown Ale – A brown ale that is complex and fruity with a smooth and rich malt flavor. You may also taste notes of caramel, chocolate, and coffee.

Chimay Ale – This apricot-flavored Trappist beer is top fermented, then re-fermented in the bottle, and not pasteurized. 

Summit Porter – Summit Porter is a light-bodied beer with a malty character and sweet finish.

Boulevard Stout – A stout that offers complex flavors of espresso, roasted fig, and crème brulée. You'll also notice notes of plum from the Belgian yeast and spicy, herbal notes from the German hops before experiencing a dry, smoky finish.

BONUS: Three Drool-Worthy Venison Recipes

Venison Chili with Chipotle Peppers

  • 1 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. of chili powder
  • 2 tsp. of ground cumin
  • 2 lbs. of ground venison, browned
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of plum tomatoes with juice, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. of chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook until tender (5 to 10 minutes). Add chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the venison, tomatoes, and chipotle peppers. Heat to boiling. Add a little water if it looks thicker than you like. Decrease the heat and simmer uncovered for at least 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Venison Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce

  • 1 lb. venison tenderloin
  • 1 cup of dry red wine
  • 3 tbsp. of dijon mustard
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp. of blackberry jam
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the wine and mustard in a nonreactive dish. Rub salt and fresh pepper into tenderloin and coat with marinade. Refrigerate for at least six hours turning every couple of hours. Alternatively, the tenderloin can be cut into one-inch slices and marinated that way. Remove meat from marinade and shake off any excess. Heat two tablespoons of butter with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Brown the tenderloin on each side until rare, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan and tent with foil. The meat will continue to cook. Quickly add chicken stock and deglaze pan. Reduce heat by half then add jam. Cook until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Slice tenderloin into one-inch pieces (if not already done) and serve drizzled with sauce from the pan.

Balsamic-Glazed Rack of Venison

  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. of ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. of canola oil
  • Two, 1-1/4 lb. venison racks, 4 chops each, frenched

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, olive oil, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of pepper and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a nonreactive ovenproof skillet, heat the canola oil until simmering. Set the venison racks, bone side up, in the skillet. Sear them over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 1.5 minutes per side. Put the skillet in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, brushing the racks 3 times with the glaze until the meat is rare and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meat reads 125°. Cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining glaze to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Cut the venison into chops and serve with the sauce.

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