Geese are terrible. Geese are mean, loud, smelly, and aggressive; like a bluejay made out of raccoon. It’s no wonder we eat them, because I have no doubt that the first person to come face to face with Geese had to kill them, because Geese are bastards and it was him or them.
Goose is awesome. Goose is juicy, fatty, and wholesome; like a turkey made out of duck. It’s a shame we don’t eat more of them, because among the diverse forms of fowl, Goose is the fairest.
If there was an animal put on this earth specifically to be washed down human gullets with wine, it was the goose. It is not true that wine and food are always a match, some things belong to other beverages; beer, coffee, whiskey and so on; but goose without wine is like a boat without a sail; just so much chewing before bed.
Goose is hard to cook. For one, Geese are a pain to farm, tireless and mean and among the wilder birds we eat. They’re a pain to butcher because – being essentially wild – they have less meat than you would expect. Lots of fat. Lots of bone. They lack the giant overdeveloped breast of the turkeys and chickens we’ve bred through the millennia. It’s one of the charming coincidences of life that Goose pairs best with wines that are a pain to farm; wines that come from vineyards on cool, steep hillsides exposed to hail or rain or frost; wines with lots of energy and powerful flavors and good structure; lean wines without overdeveloped, fleshy texture or the indignity of new oak.
If you have goose on your table, you should have a wine from Piedmont or Burgundy, the Mosel or the Loire or Bordeaux. The more delicate and the older, the better. Steaks and rib roasts and stews demand bold, pugnacious, structured wines. Goose should melt in your mouth, so the wine should act the same way; a weightless explosion of mouthwatering flavor. Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir and Riesling and Chenin and – properly aged – Merlot are each capable of achieving that same sense of power and tension; wild, spicy and savory game-flecked flavors transmitted through a medium of pure elegance and understated power. I promise I didn’t get that line from a Lexus ad; that’s just how well done wine pairing works; beyond the factual descriptions of flavors and acid, there is a more abstract realm of personality and nuance where wine and food interact on a level not entirely separate from, yet not entirely limited to, the palate. It’s one of the charming ironies of life that a bird as rude and ungainly as a goose can rise to such ethereal heights; but only after you kill it and cook it.