While the most popular drink this weekend will be Irish Beer or whiskey, some of us will have other drinks in hand. Most of you reading this blog are lovers of wine and although you may slide away from your wine to enjoy a St Patrick’s Day Guinness or Jameson, you may like some ideas on what wines to pair with the food you are enjoying this weekend
Since Ireland’s wine production is very limited, it doesn’t mean that, if you would rather drink wine, you can’t take part in the festivities. Here are some ideas on how you can swap whiskey for wine:
To start off, the Irish Cheeseboard. The first rule of thumb for cheeseboards: You should have at least one hard, one soft, one blue, and one specialty cheese. Any Irish Cheddar in stores right now makes a great choice for the hard cheese. For the soft, you might choose a Brie or a green-herbed goat cheese. Sticking with the Irish theme, find a Cashel Blue for the blue cheese, and for the specialty cheese—and to throw in the Guinness in cheese-form—find a Guinness-soaked Irish Cheddar. Since Irish cheeses are strong by nature, Chardonnay or a German Riesling is versatile enough to support the full range of the cheeseboard. For a red wine, you might choose a French Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.
Continuing with appetizers, if you are one of the many that picked up Irish Soda Bread at Costco or Wegmans, add some smoked salmon and capers and pair with a California Sauvignon Blanc. The (St. Paddy’s Day) green, grassy notes of the Sauvignon Blanc will play nicely with the smoky and salty flavors of the bread and salmon. Staying with the “green” theme, you could go with a Vinho Verde (which translates to green). The fresh, zippy character of the wine will be a refreshing partner to the salt in the bread and salmon.
For main courses, if you fancy corned beef and cabbage, you need to choose something that will play nicely with the fatty meat, without being overpowered by the cabbage. Go with a lower-tannin red, like Grenache or Merlot. If going bigger with Roast beef and horseradish, you would be able to up the game in tannins with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie allows for more options. For a red, the Merlot would work here as well; however, you could opt for a hearty Rosé like a Rosado or Pinot Noir Rosé, or try a Chardonnay. You might be surprised how well that works!
After all the Irish savories on the table, it’s time to sweeten it up. There are so many wonderful treats you could serve in celebration. Chocolate stout cake with Guinness frosting would pair nicely with a California or Australian Shiraz. The dark fruits in the Shiraz and the higher alcohol would carry the richness of the chocolate, and the pepperiness will add a unique spark, working with the Guinness notes in the cake. The other option would be a tawny port. An Irish Whiskey bread pudding and a Sauterne or Riesling would do a nice jig together, too. The almond honeyed character of the Sauterne would bring out the spices and whiskey notes, the floral and fruit qualities of the Riesling will be nice companions, bringing out the cinnamon richness of the sweet bread.
No need to add the food coloring to your wine to fit in with the St Patrick’s Day Beer and Whiskey drinkers, pick up a Vinho Verdé and drink your green! Choose a wine with green qualities; a Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner or Vermentino; or, if you fancy reds more, choose a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc from Bordeaux, or an organic wine–you’ll be a green hero! If you still want to join in on the Guinness drinking, there is a cocktail you can try, using Guinness and Champagne. Fill the glass with Guinness and top it with Champagne!
Whatever is in your glass and on your plate this weekend, try something new and let us know how it worked! Enjoy safely! Slaintè!
“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.” – Michael Broadbent