Mar 12 2009
By Brett Ashley McKenzie
Full disclosure: I am not a beer person. I'm not a whiskey person either. So every Saint Patrick's Day, when Chicago decks itself top to bottom in green, I bite my tongue and raise my lone wine glass amidst a sea of Guinness pints and whiskey shooters. I imagine this is how non-margarita people feel on Cinco de Mayo, how non-Egg Nog people feel on Christmas, and how non-Champagne people feel on New Year's. So what's a wine lover to drink with their corned beef and cabbage?
In traditional, robust Irish fare, meat and potatoes have the starring roles. Corned beef and cabbage is a particularly salty, sour dish, and a big, fruity wine makes for a sensible pairing. A smoky, peppery Zinfandel, like the 2006 Francis Berwyn Zinfandel Paso Robles with its blueberry, cherry, and plum flavors, would provide a superb contrast. Another viable option is a fruity Garnacha, like the economical, flavorful 2007 Vina Borgia, which features a nice, clean finish. An Irish lamb stew would pair well with a sophisticated Pinot Noir, like the 2006 Neudorf "Tom's Block" from New Zealand. Traditional Shepherd's Pie is made with ground lamb, but the Americanized recipe served on Saint Patrick's Day tends to substitute ground beef. Zinfandels are a tried and true partner for Shepherd's Pie, but an earthy Syrah, like the 100% organic Chilean 2006 Palin Syrah Limari Valley, can be an exceptional companion for the creamy dish.
Because of the hearty nature of Irish food, a light, crisp, and clean still or sparkling white wine may be preferred. The citrus and melon notes in the 2007 First Drop First Love White Blend offset the salty, savory dishes mentioned above. A refreshing Riesling, like the 2006 Bex Riesling Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, which is just sweet enough without overdoing it, is another viable option. For a fruity, flavorful sparkling white, try the Italian Adami Prosecco, which offers notes of yellow cherry and green apple.
Which wines do you prefer with Irish dishes? What will you be drinking this Saint Patrick's Day? We'd love to know.