Irish Food & Wine Pairings for St. Patrick's Day
As an Irish-born woman, foodie, wine consultant, and Sommelier-in-training, I feel it’s my JOB to blog about this particular topic for my favorite holiday! Let me preface it with this. These are NOT all foods I grew up eating. In fact, I ate more of these ‘traditional’ Irish foods as an immigrant in America. That’s not to say they’re not Irish, but it’s like assuming French people live on baguettes and cheese and stay fabulously thin. Doesn’t happen 🙄Okay, let’s get to the meat of it.
I’m constantly learning. I referenced two far more educated wine writers on this - you can see links to their posts below. A point one of them made is important to note — traditional St. Patrick's Day dishes hold bold flavors, so if you're not sipping on beer to cleanse your palate, you'll probably want some wines that can stand up to these flavors. From all my reading it’s clear there are some winners across the board for most of these dishes: Gruner Veltliner (known for pairing well with notoriously difficult foods for wine pairings), Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. I’m doing a happy dance because we have all of those varietals in stock right now 👯♀️
Oysters + Viognier
The 2018 Fieldhouse White Blend, Mendocino County, California is perfect for shellfish. I enjoy serving this wine at tasting events to demonstrate the different tastes as it passes through the palette. It’s bright and textured with notes of underripe peach, underripe apricot and white flowers on a core of refreshing acidity that lingers so the wine finishes clean; as the wine warms, notes of pear and honey emerge. Viognier is an intensely aromatic grape that combines aspects of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. This wine is organic and vegan, $20.
Smoked Salmon & Soda Bread + Sauvignon Blanc
Smoked salmon has an assertive flavor and oily texture so it is best paired with a low-alcohol wine with enough acidity to cut through the fats. The 2018 Dove Hunt Dog Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County, California is the perfect compliment. It’s earth and crisp, vibrant and juicy with lemon zest, green apple and underripe pear on a medium-bodied frame with a lingering finish. The Sauvignon Blanc for this vintage was handpicked, pressed, fermented, and spent 6 months in stainless steel tank before a light filtration at bottling. Organic and vegan, $19.
Corned Beef and Cabbage + Zinfandel, Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc
While the cabbage here might sway you back to the 2017 Punkt Genau Grüner Veltliner, Niederosterreich, Austria, a young Zinfandel with black fruit and spice can make the perfect pairing for corned beef too. 2017 The Resident Zinfandel, Mendocino County, California (one of my personal faves) is fruity and bold with tart raspberry, red cherry, sweet mint and vanilla aromas continue onto the medium-bodied palate that has an appealing purity of fruit and a lingering finish. An alternative pairing is the earthy and crisp 2018 Dove Hunt Dog Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County, California (my personal white fave), vibrant and juicy with lemon zest, green apple and underripe pear. Both wines are organic and vegan, Zinfandel $25, Sauvignon Blanc $20.
Boiled Bacon & Cabbage + Syrah or Gruner Veltliner
We’re in luck, apparently natural wines with their vivid fruit flavors work well with ham! Cabbage, a difficult food to pair with, meet Gruner Veltliner, the varietal famous for pairing with food difficult to pair with 🥂 The 2017 Punkt Genau Grüner Veltliner, Niederosterreich, Austria is crisp, fruity and refreshing with apple, passionfruit and a hint of spice featuring a core of minerality and a clean finish. The Gruber family has been growing grapes and making wine in Weinviertel region of Austria since 1814. The do not fine or filter their wines. If you’d prefer to go the red route I recommend the earthy and bold 2015 Wind Gap Syrah, Sonoma Coast, California. It’s a gorgeous inky purple with blackberry, roasted espresso, mocha and sweet smoke. Both organic and vegan wines, Grüner Veltliner $28, Syrah $38.
Creamy Potato and Leek Soup + Grüner Veltliner or Sauvignon Blanc
Best paired with the 2017 Punkt Genau Grüner Veltliner, Niederosterreich, Austria (crisp, fruity and refreshing with apple, passionfruit and a hint of spice featuring a core of minerality and a clean finish) or the 2018 Dove Hunt Dog Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County, California (vibrant and juicy with lemon zest, green apple and underripe pear). Both wines are organic and vegan, Grüner Veltliner $28, Sauvignon Blanc $20.
Shepherd’s Pie + Syrah
A simple food calls for a special wine. This dish would pair well with a dry and medium-bodied red. Right up that alley is the earthy and bold 2015 Wind Gap Syrah, Sonoma Coast, California, with it’s a gorgeous inky purple with blackberry, roasted espresso, mocha and sweet smoke. Organic and vegan, $38.
Beef Stew + Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah
While lamb or mutton stew is the traditional dish, an Irish Beef Stew is what you see more commonly served. A Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah all pair well with Beef Stew, the bolder the better. I’d recommend the 2016 Middle Jane Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, California (fruity and bold with blackberry, plum, cassis, violets and spice on a structured but round palate with dusty tannins and a long finish) or the 2016 Bookbinder 2nd Edition Red Wine, Napa Valley, California (even bolder, and a blend of 44% Merlot, 26% Malbec, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, with aromas of blackberry compote, mulberry and mocha and flavors of black cherry, sweet tobacco and a garrigue with a rounded texture and a lengthy, persistent finish). Both wines are organic and vegan, Middle Jane $35, Bookbinder $58.
Beef and Guinness Pie or Stew + Cabernet Sauvignon
No doubt there’ll be something on the menu that’s braised or cooked with Guinness. For this I recommend a robust Cabernet Sauvignon like the the 2017 Fieldhouse Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, California. Dark, textured and well-balanced with black cherry, spiced plum, cassis and mocha framed by dusty tannins with a lingering finish. The fruit for this wine was hand-picked in the morning on September 21, 2017 into half ton bins. Then, it was transferred into stainless steel tanks for a long, slow fermentation over 20 days on the skins before 50% was transferred to neutral French Oak barrels and 50% transferred to stainless steel tanks for 12 months of aging. Organic and vegan, $32.
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