I couldn’t resist the double entendre for today’s post, just like I can’t resist anything made with wild boar. These brown, bristly relatives of the pig taste remarkably good, a gamier version of pork. Depending on their range and eating habits wild boar meat can have a sweet, nutty flavor and is leaner and deeper red than pork. In Italy wild boars (cinghiale) typically forage on plants, acorns, grasses, fruits, bulbs and the occasional contadini (farmer’s) vegetable garden that they dig up from the ground with their formidable tusks and hard snouts.
Wild boars have been roaming the forests and hills of Italy for millennia. Their hunting is an ancient sport that goes back to Roman times where the fierceness and strength of the boar made it a worthy opponent. Today overpopulation, hybrid breeding and their penchant for invasive behavior that results in damage to crops, vineyards, stone walls etc. makes the boar hunting season in Italy (from October to February) a much anticipated time of the year that follows an ancient tradition and way of life for the Italian cacciatore.
The Italian love of wild game and preference for rustic cooking makes cinghiale (wild boar) a popular dish throughout Italy. In fact, cinghiale is so popular in Tuscany that it is considered by some to be (unofficially) the national dish. So I am selecting a Tuscan wine to drink with my wild boar whether he be part of my pici or pappardelle al ragu’ or the bore sitting next to me at the table. A Tuscan Brunello from Montalcino (the little dark one) or Montepulciano’s Vino Nobile would be my choice. Both have cherry, plum flavors and aromas that would compliment the boar. Both are highly regarded – a robust food pairing that would honor the boar and hasten the bore.
*for a more cost conscious occasion you might enjoy a Rosso di Montepulciano or Rosso di Montalcino (Brunello’s little brother) or Chianti Colli Senesi produced in the hills around Siena