Top pairings | Which wines to drink on St Patrick's Day

Pairings | Roast rib of beef

Which wines to drink on St Patrick's Day

It’s hard to avoid the obvious on St Paddy’s Day. Guinness, Bailey’s and Irish whiskey are the usual suspects but if none of these appeals here are the sort of wines that will work with classic Irish fare.


Here’s where the Guinness comes in but if you don’t like Guinness, what then? A crisp white like Chablis, Muscadet or Picpoul de Pinet hits the spot

Smoked salmon and soda bread

Sauvignon Blanc is a better match for smoked salmon than champagne if truth be told. I’d go for one from the Loire myself like a Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé or - bargain drinking - Côteaux du Giennois, available in Majestic and Marks & Sparks

Cockle and mussel chowder

A lovely recipe from TV’s Rachel Allen. The blissful combination of shellfish and cream generally calls for a Chardonnay. Chablis would be classic but any other cool climate chardonnay would do. Or try an Italian white like Soave or Gavi

Irish stew

A plain, old-fashioned dish that works better with beer (bitter or pale ale rather than Guinness, I suggest) than with wine to be honest. Otherwise try a decent (but not too alcoholic) Côtes du Rhône or a mature Rioja

Boiled bacon and cabbage

Again I really like stout with this kind of dish but wine-wise I’d be looking at a cru Beaujolais or other Gamay, an inexpensive red Burgundy or a young Syrah. Natural wines with their vivid fruit flavours work well with ham. Try the Raisins Gaulois I recommended in the Guardian a while back. Cider would also be a good pairing.

Corned beef and cabbage

Another classic St Patrick’s Day dish from Darina Allen. Basically this is boiled salted brisket and vegetables - a simple meal that will make any accompanying wine taste sweeter than it otherwise would. I’d probably go for an inexpensive red Bordeaux though you could drink a crisp white like an Aligoté, Chablis or Grüner Veltliner.

Beef and Guinness pie or stew

Anything cooked in Guinness like these braised beef and champ pies or sausages in Guinness gravy are a good match with Guinness or other stouts or porters. Wine-wise I’d go for a robust Languedoc red, Syrah or Malbec

Roast rib of beef with horseradish sauce

There’s a long tradition of Irish-owned chateaux in Bordeaux so a good claret would be in keeping with the occasion. But any medium-to full-bodied red you enjoy is going to do the trick.

An Irish cheeseboard

Ireland has some fantastic cheeses like Adrahan, Coolea, Gubbeen and Cashel Blue though they tend to be quite strong. I’m not sure this isn’t an occasion to crack open a bottle of vintage port if you’ve got one. A good Late Bottled Vintage or 10 year old tawny if you haven’t.

There’s no classic St Patrick’s Day dessert that I'm aware of. Darina’s Rhubarb Bread and Butter pudding would do nicely (I’d pair a Sauternes with that) or try these clever Irish whiskey shots with a cream float from Rachel Allen

Photograph © Brent Hofacker -

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Comments: 2

Fiona Beckett on March 17 2017 at 11:52


MeSaare on March 17 2017 at 11:46

When I worked at the National Theatre, we made chocolate mousse flavoured with coffee, served in a wine glass topped with whipped cream with a drop of Irish whiskey = cold Irish coffee.

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