Bird & Wine Pairings: A Beginners Guide

Mr. Canary's Perfect Pairings

Perfect Pairings

When it comes to a warm summer evening on your backyard deck, if you’re like me, you want to know “Which wine goes best with watching birds at my feeder?”

Well, Spoiler Alert: They ALL do. But because of my expertise in both areas I’m going to offer some suggestions…You’re welcome.

You know, over time we all learn a lot about specific areas of our work; my knowledge of birds comes from almost twenty-five years in the business. My knowledge of wine has grown over a much longer period of time.

In wine pairings there are two major types: Congruent and Complementary. A congruent pairing creates balance by amplifying shared flavor compounds. A complementary pairing, on the other hand, creates balance by means of contrasting tastes and flavors.  Today I’m focusing on Congruent Pairings.

Red House Finch/Medium-bodied Rose

A great starter pairing is with birds in the finch family, but the one I’d choose here is the Red House Finch. They are found throughout the United States and are big hanger-arounders at bird feeders, especially sock feeders. The male has a red-ish head and neck, though typically not a deep red, like a typical rose vs. a Cabernet. The balance they create together is in color and feel, like a light breeze on a warm night.

Scarlet Tanager/Petite Sirah

One of the boldest red feeder birds, the Scarlet Tanager, is a natural pairing with a hearty Petite Sirah, which is only ‘petite’ in its grape size, not its flavor. Both offer deep tones of dark red which is a ‘flavor compound’ that I think is a natural balance creator, unless a person spends more time drinking the Petite Sirah than watching the Tanager. In that case a person

may achieve delicious balance in the pairing, but very likely feel zero ‘balance’ when it comes to, oh say, standing up. But then, that could be one of most delightful aspects of this pairing.

Chickadee/Pinot Grigio

I love a nice Pinot Grigio in the summer, maybe even over ice. I know so-called wine ‘experts’ think that wine on ice is like putting ketchup on Filet Mignon, but I am a free thinker…and drinker. I once read a description of Pinot Grigio that sticks with me: Pinot Grigio, a zesty white wine that is as refreshing as a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. I’m not gonna lie, I’m nuts for most anything described as ‘zesty.’ That’s why I suggest pairing this lively wine with Chickadees. Chickadees are part of the tit family, which sounds zesty all by itself. They’re cute birds that look like they’re wearing little teeny tuxedos, which I think is a sharp, fresh look that echoes the taste of Pinot Grigio (aka Pinot Gris). Chickadees also punch above their weight when it comes to establishing their territory around bird feeders, despite their small stature. If you love ‘zesty,’ this pairing is a no-brainer.

For anyone reading this who considers themselves expert enough in wine or birds to be considered a bird/wine pairing authority, I want to hear from you! What congruent pairing do YOU suggest?

Find out how I got my expertise in this area, of birds that is (the wine background is a story for another day), by visiting Mr. Canary’s website to learn how it all began.

Next up: Complementary Pairings. I have some great recommendations, do you?



Author: Jan Long

Published: June 21, 2019