Please forgive me for stating the obvious but I have spent the last couple of months totally underwhelmed by the drifting aromas of surrounding barbeques, in fact I have barely noticed that Papal puff of white smoke drift over any garden fence as the Alpha male sets about poisoning his unwitting family with undercooked drumsticks. No this clearly was not a barbeque summer by anyone’s standards. Picnics seemed to fare even less well with winds approaching gale force on some days ready to lift the large square of gingham and its contents up from the ground. It all seems a well constructed plot by the department of meteorology to take our minds off the credit crunch, wayward banks and M.P’s expense claims during the summer recess. It has clearly flawed my well rehearsed aspirations to wax lyrical on the joys of various Rosé wines that I brought back from their heartland in Provence some weeks ago.

No in wine terms my considered thoughts on a bottle’s seasonality beyond, its particular country of origin was scuppered, until now perhaps.

For me a season can sum up the essence of a country or region like nothing else. Spring fits the south of France well as the wild flowers populate every field and roadside before the searing heat burns off everything that grows. Summer in the cool Tuscan hills as the pines shelter the landscape from 40 degrees. But Autumn in England is a perfect balance of crisp clear skies and an oasis of seasonal cooking in glorious isolation from the rest of the year. Beetroot, Parsnip, Fennel and Celeriac all offer up their charmsto the year’s cycle, but my dear Provençal Rosé seems to miss a beat alongside the forthcoming casseroles. No, what appears upon the Norfolk horizon is the start of the game season and game calls for more robust tastes in the accompanying beverage.

Game, be it mammal or bird, shares a common set of flavour profiles. Whether these emanate from their wild lifestyles, as opposed to battery chickens and farmed rabbit, or whether this similarity is borne out of a shared set of foraged food I cannot be sure. What is certain is that they all express a gamey flavour, This gaminess requires a palette of savoury rather than floral flavours in any accompanying wine. There are many to chose from but my favourites are normally selected from the the magnificent triumvirate of red wine regions in France; Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône valley.

Burgundy, unlike most other regions of France, does not blend its grape varieties, but stands proudly behind a capricious and fickle red grape, Pinot Noir. Bordeaux offers us the thicker skinned Cabernet Sauvignon often blended in differing measure with Merlot. Finally in the southern Rhône, acres of Grenache Rouge are judiciously partnered with the spicy Syrah grape. Choices range from the delicate composty and vegetal flavours of Pinot Noir through the wonderful meat friendly Bordeaux (or Clarets as they are often known here) to the turbocharged offerings of wines such as Gigondas or Châteauneuf-du- Pape from the Rhône. All of these wines would turn a table of game cuisine into a seasonal feast.

Although there are distinct taste contours associated with pheasant and partridge as opposed to teal and mallard, or rabbit and squirrel against a well hung hare, your chosen method of cooking will determine which of the above wines works best. Younger birds, if you can ascertain their age are best roasted thereby leaving moist plump meat which can be cooked pink and which will offer a perfect foil to the lighter Burgundy. A flavoursome Pinot Noir would also suit rabbit On the hills of the Côtes d’Or it is frequently consumed with saddle of rabbit in a cream and mustard sauce.

Once you start casseroling older birds, whether hung or not, you need a little bit of slow cooking. Often this one-pot approach will already contain a range of root vegetables which concentrate the rich flavours and need a decently aged Bordeaux such as Saint Émilion or Haut Medoc – if the bank manager is on your side. If not then seek out some less glamorous, but by no means less flavoursome appellations such as Côtes de Castillon or Côtes de Blaye at a fraction of the price.

Finally, if venison is your preference or a brace of jugged hare (the animal cooked with its own blood in the sauce for the courageous amongst you) then the turbo-charged reds of the Rhône will fit the bill perfectly. As Châteauneuf can so often be a pricey investment, I would opt for one of its close neighbours such as Gigondas or Vaqueyras, which both offer full bodied and authentically rustic styles.

With so many game birds appearing in our butcher’s windows from now on, it seems almost pointless to continue discussion on the knotty, supermarket question of confined or free range chicken when for the price of an average unhappy chicken you can avail yourselves of a brace of dressed pheasant, thereby leaving a shilling or two to indulge yourself in a perfect seasonal wine match. Two birds with one stone perhaps?