“You may remember a few weeks ago when we wrote on these pages about pairing champagne with biscuits and gravy. It seems that article may have opened a Pandora’s Box of sorts – since then we’ve been challenged almost constantly to up the wine pairing ante.
So, in the spirit of rising to meet the challenge, we will propose a pairing for a dish so odd, so wrong, so…..delicious, that it is going to take some serious brilliance – and humility – to find the right wine.
The dish we’re talking about is turducken, that animal-in-animal curiosity of modern culinary exploration. This is a dishc that has Americans divided. Not only has it mystified cooks around the world, it has torn families apart and, some say, tainted our rich gastronomic heritage. This is a dish so divisive that only wine could possibly heal the ugly wounds it has inflicted (those poor birds!).
Turducken’s primary flavor is something I call ‘blork’ – otherwise known as grease. This can be attributed to the fact that the birds used were sourced from beneath freeway overpasses and filthy tents ‘down by the river’. Truthfully though, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that we’re probably not talking about the most high quality protein. If these were hazelnut-fed, cruelty-free birds, why would you stuff them inside of each other? I mean, this isn’t Jet Blue economy class.
After the fat and gristle and bone, this three-way carcass fest doesn’t offer a lot of nuance. So, in our search for the right wine, we can pretty much rule out Pinot Noir. As we shift our focus to Washington State and Southern Oregon where the climate is warm enough to ripen more ‘bold’ varietals, a few things come into view. First among them is Syrah. This is a grape that, in France, stands up quite well to dishes like Cassoulet, which you can think of as the dish Turducken might have been. If it’s parents hadn’t split up and abandoned it to scrounge for Pringles by the railroad tracks.
After settling on Syrah, the road narrowed. We needed something big, tarry, loaded with peppery black fruit and possessing the fighting spirit of a Lucha Libre. After a little searching we found just such a wine from Grochau Cellars, their 2009 Rogue Valley Syrah. As wine people do, we sniffed it vigorously first and then took a sip. If there was a wine with the cahones to stand up to Turducken, this was it.
Forget what we said earlier, purchase a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir.
Now drink it all.
Then, choose a spot in your back yard that can be easily reached with a hose. Sit cross-legged and place the turducken on a large wooden cutting board in front of you, along with the bottle of Syrah. A two by four will also do. Once you’re tearing into the steaming mass – if you don’t pass out – we recommend following each bite with a healthy swallow of Syrah. After you can’t feel your legs or you start spontaneously speaking Norweigan, it is probably time to stop.
As I often say – well, at least right now – a good wine pairing is one that you survive.
PS – If you want to see all the gory details of preparing the beast, here’s a link: