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#winePW: Duck Legs + Off-Dry Pinot Gris

When I saw the invitation from David, at CookingChat, for a food + wine pairing blogging event, I was in. Instantly.

"Do you enjoy the interplay of good food and wine?" Yes. "Do you relish the challenge of finding a great wine pairing for your weekend meals?" Yes! David writes about how a good wine pairing enhances a meal. I agree wholeheartedly.

And I knew that, for this kick-off post, I wanted to pour the just released off-dry Pinot Gris from Holman Ranch: .5 Degrees Brix.

A friend had given me a bottle for my birthday and I was intrigued. Not completely familiar with the terms 'off-dry' and 'degrees Brix,' I did some reading. Turns out degrees Brix is a sugar code akin to the IBUs in beer. Where IBUs reveal the bitterness of a beer, degrees Brix measures the percentage of sugar content in a liquid. There is a more scientific explanation with percentages of sugar translating to percentages of alcohol. Suffice it to say: low residual sugar = dry. And high residual sugar = sweet. So, an 'off-dry' wine would hover on the scale at the border of dry and not dry.

So, welcome to the inaugural #winePW! Depending on response, we'll be doing this the 2nd Saturday of each month. I'm in. Did I mention that already? I mulled over my choices and decided to pair the Pinot Gris with a Lemon Marmalade-Glazed Duck and a side of Lemon-Kissed Potato salad. 

Quick note: I did miss the instructions that my dish was supposed to be grilled. Sorry. But David told me to go ahead and share my pairing. Enjoy!

In the Glass...

I am a pinot-girl all the way. Pinot Noirs are my favorite reds all year long but, during the summer months, I adore sipping chilled glasses of Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. While those are made from the same varietal, the resulting wines have always struck me as remarkably different. Grigios seem light and simple with hints of summer stone fruits and luscious melons; Gris tend to be stronger with notes of nut and spice.

In January of this year, Holman Ranch received its organic certification. Congrats to them! From what I understand, getting an organic wine certification is an arduous process. Before wine can be certified as organic, both the grape-growing and the conversion to wine must be certified. This includes ensuring that the grapes are grown without synthetic fertilizers and in a way that protects the environment and sustains the soil. All agricultural ingredients that go into the wine - such as yeast - also have to be certified organic; any non-agricultural ingredients must be allowed on the specified list of allowed and prohibited substances and cannot exceed 5% of the total product. And, while wine-making naturally produces some sulfites, they cannot be added to organic wine.

Holman's .5 Degrees Brix marries dazzling acidity and the understated sweetness of a Meyer lemon. This off-dry Pinot Gris is the perfect companion to your next poultry or seafood meal. 

In the Middle of the Plate...
I considered doing a roasted lobster but decided that I wanted to do something with duck! Typically, I've roasted whole ducks - here's my Whole Maple-Syrup Glazed Duck, so using just the legs was a new experience. And because I got that hint of Meyer lemon in the Pinot Gris, I thought I'd glaze the duck with a homemade Meyer lemon marmalade.

  • 4 duck legs 
  • 1 t minced fresh oregano
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 celery stalks 
  • 2 C chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 T Meyer lemon marmalade (click name to go to my recipe post)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large skillet, place duck legs, skin side down. Turn heat to medium.

Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the fat is rendered and the skin golden and crisped. Flip to the other side and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

In a rimmed baking dish, place onion wedges and celery pieces. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Lay the browned duck pieces on top. Pour in the chicken stock and cover with foil. Roast for 90 minutes.

Remove the foil and raise the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees. Spoon 1 T of lemon marmalade onto each leg. Spread the marmalade over the entire surface. Return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes - until the duck is browned and the skin crisp.

On the Side of the Plate...
I made a Lemon-Kissed Potato Salad - just a basic potato salad with lemon zest folded in and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in the dressing! 

Wine Pairing Weekend #1 Bloggers
Be sure to check out the great pairings my fellow bloggers have come up with for the first Wine Pairing Weekend!Wine Pairing Weekend #1 Bloggers: Be sure to check out the great pairings my fellow bloggers have come up with for the first Wine Pairing Weekend! 

The Tasting Pour is posting "Pairing Food and Wine: Cabernet Cliché"
Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing "Lemon Marmalade-Glazed Duck Legs + Holman Ranch's Off-Dry Pinot Gris"
Vino Travels - An Italian Wine Blog will share "Food and Wine Pairing: BBQ with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo"
Grape Experiences is sharing "Wine and Dine: Sinfo Rosado 2012 with Chicken Enchilada Burgers"
Pull that Cork posted "Rolled Pork Florentine on the Grill, Which Wine Pairs Best?"
From Cooking Chat, "Grilled Pork Tenderloin Paired with a Bonny Doon Syrah"
Meal Diva blogged about "Grilled Sausage Kabobs and White Wine"
Curious Cuisiniere paired "Wine Grilled Chicken with Lewis Station Winery's Oaked Chardonnay"

And that's a Wrap...
...on our first #winePW event. Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you're getting this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme "Wine Pairings for Grilled Meat" on Saturday, June 14, 10 to 11 a.m. Eastern Time. 

My Duck legs + Off-Dry Pinot Gris pairing was a smashing success! I'll pin this recipe and other posts on my #winePW pinterest board. David, our host, also has a Wine Pairing Weekend pinterest board. Stay tuned for the July Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on "Refreshing summer wine pairings" on Saturday, July 12.

If you can't find Holman's .5 Degrees Brix, go for a Pinot Gris whose floral and citrus aromas are evenly matched. And if you try this pairing - or just the wine - I would love to hear what you think. Comment below or tweet to me at @Culinary_Cam.


  1. Wow! I love this post--no worries about the grilling. Good breakdown of the brix term--good learning reading it. I don't like wines that are very sweet, but with the right food pairing, a touch of sweetness aka "off dry" can be nice. I think I'd like this one, not to mention the recipe. Thanks for participating!

  2. What a great idea. I usually go with Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc for duck. This is definitely a pairing I would try. Beautiful photography.


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