As it’s both Bonfire Night and British Sausage Week this week there’s a fair chance that you’ll be eating bangers of some kind, so what’s the best pairing? As always it depends on the sausage but I personally find that beer and cider are just as good partners as wine.
Sausage and mash
The quintessential British sausage dish is almost always better accompanied by Britain’s national drink, beer than wine, especially if accompanied by onion gravy. (The same goes for toad in the hole.) I’d pick a hearty ale like Timothy Taylor Landlord but if the gravy is dark and intense you could even try a porter. If you don’t drink beer a hearty southern French or Spanish red or Argentine Malbec would all work well.
Pork and leek sausages
Lighter sausages such as pork and leek or pork and apple pair well with cider. You could also drink white wine with them - I’d suggest a Chenin Blanc or unoaked or subtly oaked Chardonnay.
Hot spicy sausages e.g. chorizo, merguez
Spice generally calls for wines with a touch of sweetness but with sausages like chorizo, merguez or Cajun-spiced sausages I’d be looking primarily for a red with ripe fruit: one of the new wave Spanish reds such as Montsant, an unoaked Douro red, or a Shiraz, Pinotage or Zinfandel. Avoid reds that are heavily oaked though as oak-ageing tends to accentuate chilli heat.
It depends on the other ingredients in the casserole. If onion, apple and cider are involved I’d drink cider with it too. If the sauce is tomato-based or includes red wine I’d go for a rustic red similar to those I’ve suggested for sausage and mash. A decent Côtes du Rhône is usually a reliable option.
Tuscan-style sausages with beans
One of the most wine-friendly of sausage dishes with which you could drink a good Tuscan (or other Italian) red if you so chose. A recent success was a Montepulciano Rosso Madregale.
Garlicky French sausages e.g. Toulouse
Work well with southern and south-west French wines of lesser known appellations such as Marcillac. Again particularly wine-friendly if accompanied by pulses such as haricot beans and lentils. A modest Bordeaux wouldn’t go amiss.
Venison or beef sausages
Tend to have a slightly gamey flavour that generally works with wines that pair well with game. More robust styles of Pinot Noir such as those from Central Otago, northern Rhone reds such as St-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage come to mind.
German-style sausages such as frankfurters and bratwurst
Definitely beer in my book. A light lager, pilsner or Kolsch for frankfurters, a slightly sweeter beer like a helles or golden lager for grilled brats. Try a crisp, dry Riesling if you don’t like beer.