Liver & Onions -- What to Drink!?

Help would, as always, be greatly appreciated. I am cooking calves liver and onions using the traditional Harry’s Bar recipe for a couple guests this evening. Heavier, old-world wine seems to be appropriate. Any thoughts from the following? Obviously, no truly bad choices on this list.

  • 2006 Chateau Poujeaux
  • 2000 Chateau Pavie Macquin
  • 2000 Chateau Nenin
  • 2010 Sori Paitin Barbaresco
  • 1996 Paolo Scavino Bric Del Fiasc (my first choice, but only have ~3 hours before dinner).
  • 2002 Heredia Rioja Tondonia Riserva

Thanks again, very, very much!


Sorry old buddy but just thinking about liver and onions gives me the shivers. My mother loved it. First time I had it as a child I almost gagged. Still do.

I’d be interested in seeing what people pair it with though.

My reaction is along the line of Greg’s. My first reaction was Aussie Shiraz because liver has such a powerful taste and I’d want something equally powerful to wash away the taste.

Good luck.

Vodka martini. Then a glass of Dujac Chambolle. Then skip dinner.

Or a Northern Rhone.

Hilarious replies. Part of the impetus for the dinner is that a good friend and I love calves liver veneziana, but appreciate that it’s, shall we say, an acquired taste. Our third has never had liver before and we’re very curious to see his reaction. Worst case scenario are burgers and much more wine.

For those who DO enjoy liver though, any thoughts? Syrah was my first choice as well, but I don’t have two bottles of any decent syrah that’s ready to drink on hand.

We had some lamb liver a couple nights ago. Not my favorite but we ate it. I found it to have a strong iodine/chalky flavor. We had some bubbles open from earlier and that actually worked great to cleanse the palate. Then we went to higher octane zinfandel which also worked well. I am generally a opposite flavor food paired so since Syrah can be a little earthy/peppery/chalky I would not go that route. Neither of us wanted to admit we did not love the liver but it came with the whole lamb we bought so we wanted to at least try some. I almost got a Mourvedre or tannat I think would have went ok with it as well. Since the flavor is pretty strong I would be drinking in the below average area for what you have in your cellar. Where as the lamp shanks we do I go for among the best PN we have in the cellar.

After dinner I had a glass of Bourbon (Bookers) on the rocks and that seemed to be the only thing to really cleanse the palate from liver, garlic, onion.

Few things don’t go with wine. Liver is one of them.

I’m not really a fan of this dish, or liver generally, but I would think that an off-dry/feinherb to Kabinett level Riesling would be the best fit. The acidity and sweetness would cut through liver’s density, and the slight sweetness would also complement the onions.

something red light and fruity. cru Bojo

Milk :wink:. (At least that’s what my mom served)

Yes! One of the greatest food-wine pairings I’ve ever had was a JJ Prum Auslese with foie gras and diced Japanese apple-pears. Off-the-charts great, so I don’t think liver kills all wines. But that did have the sweetness of the fruit in the mix, which made the Auslese work.

I don’t eat a lot of liver, so I don’t have strong instincts when it comes to the reds. If you like liver, I think most of those would work. I think we shouldn’t confuse dislike of liver with thinking that wine can’t be drunk with it.

I like the Auslese idea but might even take it a bit further and go with Sauterne. Works for foie gras…why not chicken liver.

Foie gras is much more delicate and subtle than calves’ liver. Much. But whether Sauternes would work? Doesn’t talk to me, but what do I know…

As luck would have it, just got back from dinner at a friend’s house, where liver with sweet Tropea onions, pomegrante and balsamic vinegar was served with the host’s Nebbiolo. Very fine!

good call Bil.
Sounds like a great dish too

The pomegranite and balsamic vinegar is probably what made that work.

I’d go with either Riesling or a Pinot Gris for a white with either an Oregon Pinot with some age on it.

Calves liver and onions is a great dish and one of my favorites. It has no similarities to foie gras at all. I like mine on the medium side, still pink and juicy but not bloody. I like fairly simple but aged wines with the dish. An older Cotes du Rhone goes well as long as the gravy is not too sweet. I also like Suzanne’s idea of a Bojo but I would drink one with some age on it. If you use Madeira or something similar in the gravy, then an off-dry Alsatian white pairs well too.

I’d pair the liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti…

Damm. Are they still selling liver in America?

Seriously, nothing expensive.