By Afton Aikens
Beef-to-bison converts love the latter’s leanness, while elk is popular with visitors who want to taste ranch-raised cousins of the game animals that adorn our mountain landscapes.
These hoofed fauna are among many types of game you can sample in the Canadian Rockies—but be sure to add a glass of wine. We talked to three restaurants in the region about their favourite wine and game pairings. We hope you brought your appetite!
Eden expertly pleases guests’ palates with multi-course dining “off the beaten path,” says Chad Greaves, maitre d’hotel and sommelier. “Everyone comes to Alberta for beef. That’s a beautiful thing, but you can have beef in a lot of restaurants,” he says.
On the game side, Eden has dabbled in artistic presentations of elk, bison, squab, partridge and pheasant. “People are excited to see these things on the menu,” Greaves says.
Best with Bison
At the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Chef Christopher Chafe says many guests dine at the hotel specifically for its game dishes. “We have one guest who comes for the bison every year,” he says.
The lodge’s Moose’s Nook Chophouse serves a 6-oz bison tenderloin. Chafe pairs it with a full-bodied ‘Nothing Sacred – Meritage’ red blend from BC winery Blasted Church.
Todd Kunst, owner of Canmore’s Sage Bistro & Wine Lounge adds that a Bordeaux blend of cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc matches bison’s flavour profile. “The wine’s cherry, chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon notes complement the meat,” he says.
Sage puts its own creative spin on game with offerings like elk salami charcuterie share plates. This rustic log cabin restaurant uses fresh local ingredients, and wine flights let guests sample several varieties side by side.
“With game, a hint of dried fruit in a wine is often a good thing,” Greaves says. He notes that personal preference plays a role, too.
As for antlered animals, smoky, earthy reds like syrah, grenache and mourvedre go well with elk and venison, Kunst says. Chafe describes the meats’ flavours as “strong and mature”, adding that Burrowing Owl winery’s syrah is a top pick for the venison loin and carpaccio served at the Moose’s Nook.
While some say game meat is an acquired taste, we say there’s no place better than our Great White North to step into the culinary world of wine and game.