Deeply rooted in tradition, The Glorious Twelfth (August 12) marks the start of the grouse season.
Earthy in flavour - as well as high in protein and low in fat - grouse, partridge and pheasant gravitate towards broad-shouldered reds with a good backbone of tannins that can stand up to the strength of the meat.
Fresh game birds are much lighter in flavour than those which have been hung for weeks (the shooting season runs to the end of November), and a luscious pinot noir such as Sherwood Stratum Waipara Pinot Noir 2011, New Zealand (£12.99, www.virginwines.co.uk) will complement the tender young flesh with its light, plummy, black forest fruits which pack a punch at 13.5 per cent.
Red wine lovers who like to wax lyrical on the joys of a good claret to complement the delicate gamey tang of young grouse will be well rewarded with Dourthe Diane de Belgrave 2009, France (£15, Oddbins) from the Haut-Medoc region in Bordeaux.
Named after the Goddess of Hunting, Diane is dressed with a ferret and crown on the label which harks back to the day when the chateau was a royal hunting lodge. A blend of 55 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 40 per cent merlot and five per cent petit verdot, it drinks beautifully with elegance and softness.
A similar blend from the other side of the globe, Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Merlot 2011, Australia (£12.99, The Co-Operative) has been given a generous splash of shiraz to lend some spice to this velvety smooth red. This famous McLaren Vale winery certainly knows how to produce a rich red that’s powerful but blessed with fine, grainy tannins.