Quite possibly the biggest excuse for a drink fest outside of Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day is famous for green beer, green Midori, Irish Crème liqueur, green Irish whiskey…green anything…. It isn’t surprising that “St. Patrick’s Day Wine” may not jump into your mind when considering what to serve with beef brisket, or corned beef and cabbage. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to drink like a leprechaun to enjoy beautiful wines with the earthy, hearty St. Patty’s Day fare.
Irish dishes typical of St. Patrick’s Day tend to be hearty and filling, but it is more typically the Americanization and internationalization of these meals that give them flavor. It is a common joke in my household that British food — and I lump all the U.K. in this — simply isn’t known for its flavor. Boiled potatoes and cabbage, bangers and mash, fish and chips — it could be that wine is just the ticket to spruce up this farm fare.
Pair Corned Beef and Cabbage with Pinot Noir or Malbec. You don’t want to overpower the food if you’re in for the whole Irish experience. A good Pinot or Malbec is just sprightly enough to excite the “boiled meal.”
Pair Fish and Chips with a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Chardonnay. Breaded, deep fried haddock doused in malt vinegar, accompanied by thick potato slices (“chips”) and coleslaw, needs a mouth cleansing, fruity and crisp wine accompaniment. A not-too-sweet Riesling, a tart Sauvignon Blanc, even a lightly chilled Chardonnay all fit the bill. These three wines are so different that, if you are an aficionado of one and not another, you still have a good variety to choose from. And if you insist, you can add some green food coloring
Pair Bangers and Mash with Shiraz or Zinfandel. This dish is basically mashed potatoes and pork sausages. This tends to be a more flavorful dish, so the wine pairing needs to cut the spiciness of the sausage, but not overpower it. Experts recommend a California Zinfandel or an Australian Shiraz. These wines’ tannins and acidity, coupled with berry and fruit undertones, make them perfect. And the mix of fruit and meat help lighten the meal.
So, raise your glasses to St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and toast: Erin Go Braugh!