Pairings | Haggis
I’ve argued before that whisky and beer are the best matches for haggis but what if you prefer a wine? What colour and style work best?
I’ve been a bit of a sceptic in the past about pairing food with whisky. Not that there aren’t some great combinations but I find it hard to sustain for more than one dish.
Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.
Syrah and shiraz, as you may know, are the same grape variety but quite different in character. Syrah, especially from the Northern Rhône, tends to be savoury, shiraz from Australia, far more sweet-fruited. Here I’m concentrating on food pairings for syrah. Read this post if you’re looking for matches for shiraz though there is obviously some overlap.
When you think about it for a moment haggis is pretty unappealing. An monstrous turd of a sausage stuffed with suet and assorted offal (sheeps heart, liver and lungs) served with a veg (neeps) the French only feed to cattle it’s mystifying why we dedicate a night to eating it every year. No wonder you need whisky to wash it down.
This week’s match is a predictive one rather than one I’ve recently experienced as I’ve been invited to a Burn’s Night dinner tomorrow night by the quirky Brewdog brewery and don’t yet know what the outcome will be.
If you’re going to or hosting a Burns’ Night dinner tonight and want to create a bit of a stir, crack open a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel, a classic Belgian Trappist ale that is still made by monks at the monastery of Westmalle. You could of course drink a Scottish beer - there are plenty of good ones - but haggis to my mind needs a bit of roundness, sweetness and strength, qualities you find more often in Belgian than British beers.
If you're planning a Burns Night supper this weekend you may be wondering which whisky to pair with it. Born and bred Scot, Ewan Lacey, general manager of the International Wine & Spirit Competition has some answers.
Although we naturally think of drinking whisky on Burns’ Night, beer is just as appropriate a pairing, especially for haggis. And with Scottish beers like Brewdog and Innis & Gunn in wide distribution it’s not too hard to find a homegrown one.