Nebbiolo is a phenomenal food wine that can be paired with a variety of ingredients and cuisines. Its zippy acidity and bold tannins make it an excellent partner to richly textured dishes, while its flavour profile of juicy cherry fruit, dried herbs and sweet spice beautifully complements recipes featuring mushrooms, slow cooked red meat and fatty game, like duck. And while typically paired with hearty Northern-Italian foods, nebbiolo is a great match for Asian dishes, especially those with sweet and sour sauces.

Serves 4


  • 4 duck breasts, separate tenderloin and trimmings for sauce
  • Pickled sansho peppers

For stock

  • 1kg of chicken bones
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half
  • 1cm piece of ginger

Sauce base

  • 500ml Umeshu (Japanese plum wine)*
  • 500ml red wine
  • Small tomato, roughly chopped
  • 20g salted plum paste (optional)

Making the stock

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Place chicken bones, onion, carrot, ginger and garlic in a baking tray and roast for 20-30 minutes until nice and golden. This is what will give your stock that delicious rich flavour. 
  2. Transfer everything into a stockpot, cover with water and bring to a simmer. 
  3. Simmer for 3 hours, skimming any impurities from the chicken bones that float to the surface ‒ this will ensure the stock is clear. 
  4. After 3 hours, strain the stock and remove all solids, then return it to a clean pot and continue simmering until reduced by two thirds.

    Making the sauce

    A quick note on Umeshu. This is a fantastic Japanese liqueur with a great balance of sweetness and sour acidity. Served on ice, it makes a great after-dinner on ice, so don’t worry if you have some left over.

    1. While your stock is reducing, remove tenderloin and any excess fat from duck breasts ‒ make sure not to remove the skin ‒  then set aside the rest of the breast.
    2. Chop tenderloin and any other duck trimmings into small pieces and place in a medium saucepan. Brown over medium-heat until golden. 
    3. Once golden, add Umeshu, red wine and tomato and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until reduced by around three quarters. 
    4. Add stock and continue to simmer, reducing sauce by another 10%. At this point, taste the sauce and continue to simmer for a richer flavour.
    5. Strain sauce to remove solids and set aside to cool until it’s time to serve.

    Cooking the duck

    Normally this dish is cooked over charcoal, however if you don’t have access to a charcoal grill, a frying pan will certainly do in a pinch

    1. Score the skin of the duck breast, making sure not to cut too deep. 
    2. Preheat a frying pan on low while letting the duck breast stand for 15 minutes. Cook the breast skin-side down over a medium-high heat for around 5 minutes, the turn over and cook for a further 5 minutes. 
    3. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

      Plating up

      While your duck is resting, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your sauce. 

      1. Add 200ml of the sauce to a saucepan and bring to a simmer adding a further 20ml of Umeshu and 20g of salted plum paste if you have any. While simmering, whisk well to fully incorporate. Season to taste. 
      2. To serve, gently slice your duck breast and layer on a plate. Drizzle each breast with the sauce and garnish with a teaspoon of pickled sansho peppers.