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Perfect match: quail salad with young red wine

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for grilled vincotto quail with grape, pecorino pepato and thyme salad.

By Alice Storey
  • Serves 4
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 20 mins cooking
Grilled vincotto quail with grape, pecorino pepato and thyme salad
Grilled vincotto quail with grape, pecorino pepato and thyme salad

For most of wine's millennia-long history, everyday reds were drunk very young, usually before next year's harvest came around. These wines were very simply fermented, using wild yeasts, then put into barrel with minimal or no preservatives and shipped off to thirsty local customers. A couple of hundred years ago, the invention of the cork-sealed glass bottle, the scientific understanding of wine microbiology and the widespread use of preservatives changed all that, making it possible to keep even basic reds for at least a couple of years.

Now, though, around the world and increasingly in Australia there is a refreshing return to reds produced specifically to be drunk before the next vintage: juicy unwooded wines, sometimes bottled without preservatives, with bold, mouthwatering flavours that would be perfect with this sweet-sour summer dish of grilled vincotto quail with grape, pecorino pepato and thyme salad - preferably eaten in a vineyard, watching the grapes ripening for the imminent 2011 harvest.

Expect to see more reds in this style appear from this vintage, from cool-climate pinots and gamays to fuller-bodied, warmer-climate merlots, shirazes and tempranillos. Drink them without delay.

Spontaneous entertainers rejoice: this quick salad is perfect with a young red wine, no cellaring required.


  • 125 ml vincotto (½ cup)
  • ½ garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4 jumbo quail (about 220gm each), butterflied
  • 4 cups (loosely packed) baby rocket
  • 200 gm seedless red grapes, halved
  • 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil (¼ cup)
  • 120 gm pecorino pepato, thinly shaved
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped thyme
  • Finely grated rind and juice of ½ lemon


  • 1
    Simmer vincotto and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat until slightly reduced (5-7 minutes), season to taste and set aside.
  • 2
    Preheat a char-grill pan over medium heat, add quail skin-side down, cook until golden (3-5 minutes), turn, reduce heat to low, baste with vincotto glaze and cook through (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat, season to taste, cut in half lengthways and set aside.
  • 3
    Combine rocket, grapes, extra-virgin olive oil, pecorino, thyme, lemon rind and lemon juice in a large bowl, season to taste, toss to combine and serve with vincotto quail.


Drink suggestion by Max Allen