Skip The Green Beer This St. Paddy's Day and Try These Wines

February 21, 2017

Wondering what to pair with St Paddy’s Day meals? That’s easy right?  Beer?  Whisky?  After all, it IS ST. PADDY’s DAY!


Not so fast my friends . . . after all, we are BRUT DETROIT and while we love the beer and whisky worlds, we have a few vino suggestions for your most traditional Irish meals.


Usually, I would tell you to choose a bottle of wine from the region where the food is grown or created – in this case Ireland.  That trick does not work here – the Irish are not known for their vineyards.  So we will get creative with the classics . . .



Corned Beef


Corned beef and cabbage is a staple in the Irish culinary world.  And not an easy dish to pair, you might think . . .


First, try pairing this dish with the most food friendly wine in the world – Pinot Noir.  Pinot Noir is light bodied, crisp, fruity and at times “earthy”.  All of these characteristics make it perfect for the corned beef.  Suggested regions or appellations of Pinot include Sonoma California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Marlborough in New Zealand.


A second, and no less suitable option, would be Syrah. Not any old Syrah though, Northern Rhone Syrah.  The folks in the Northern Rhone Valley of France have been making Syrah for hundreds of years.  This though is not your new world ‘Shiraz’ type juice.  This is lush, earthy, smoky and full of beautiful acidity and soft tannins.  While bigger in body than a Pinot Noir, Northern Rhone Syrah has the acidity to handle the corned beef.


Lastly, some other options – reds from Piedmont in Northern Italy.  Dolcetto and Barbera grape varieties are lighter in body with beautiful red fruit characteristics to enhance the corned beef.


A few things about the “words of wisdom” above – you will need to go to a quality wine shop to find the Rhone Syrah, Dolcetto and Barbera.  You will not find these in Kroger.  Rhones can be expensive but there are also very reasonably priced options too. Dolcetto and Barbera are usually very reasonably priced. Also, do not be afraid to chill the Pinot, Dolcetto or Barbera before opening.  Put the bottle in the fridge until cold and then take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes prior to the meal.  This makes them a bit more lively and fruity and better for the meal.



Meat and Potato dishes


When I think of Irish meals, I think of  “meat and potato” dishes like stew and Sheppard’s Pie.  To match this flavor profile, you should look for “rustic” wines – those with a little less bright red fruity components with more dark berry character.


Two iconic wines come to mind – Barolo from the Piedmont region in Northern Italy and Chateauneuf du Pape in the Southern Rhone region of France.


Barolo is considered one of Italy’s most revered wines.  Made from the Nebbiolo grape, it is rustic, earthy and has great acidity to pair with food.  The iconic nature of this wine in Italy may make you wonder what it might cost?  And you would be correct in assuming that most Barolo is expensive.  But, not all are.  And, if you do not want to drop a lot of cash for a Barolo, look for a plain Nebbiolo wine from Piedmont region, just not the Barolo area within the Piedmont region.


Chateauneuf du Pape wines from the Southern Rhone region of France are my all time faves.  “Chatty’s” are rustic, acidic, bold and pair wonderfully with meaty stew.  Where the Northern Rhone wines I previously described are made almost primarily from Syrah, all Chateauneuf du Pape wines are blends of up to 18 different grape varieties.  The main three varieties used in most of the blends though are Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre – sometimes affectionately known as a ‘GSM’ blend. Chatty’s have the weight and acidity to hold up to the hearty Irish meat and potato dishes.  Chattys like Barolos can be pricy.  A great option to keep cost in control are Cotes du Rhone.  Also made from the Southern Rhone.  Also primarily GSM blends, just not from the region of Chateauneuf du Pape.



Fish and Chips


Yep, fried fish and chips.  Your mainstay bar staple. Most wine cannot usually stand the weight and heft of these fried delicacies.  But, Pinot Gris can. Medium bodied with smoky notes, Pinot Gris will compliment this dish well and cut through the grease.  Look for Pinot Gris from Oregon as a strong option.  They are killing it in the far northwest with their Gris and at pretty good prices. 



Final thoughts . . .


When all else fails with pairing wine with almost any dish, go for a sparkler.  Champagne, Cava or Prosecco are good choices.  They are bright, lively and above all else palate cleansers that make the food taste great.


From all of us at BRUT, enjoy your St. Paddy’s Day celebrations!!






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