FMN – March 2019 – St. Patrick’s Day Wines

As you know, I’m a big fan of holidays, especially those that encourage some level of imbibing. Having a bit of Irish heritage only further encourages my celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. The usual beverage of choice would include beer and Irish Whisky (a previous article), but this year I want to shake things up. So turn from the juice of the barely and turn to the juice of the grape to accompany your warm-hearted Gaelic festivities, which in our house lasts about a week.

Seafood is a mainstay in the Irish kitchen and served frequently during Saint Patrick’s Day. Whether you are planning for fish & chips, cod cakes or boxty, a light crisp white wine could help elevate the dish. There are a myriad of choices that work here like Albariño, a dry Chenin Blanc, or even a dry Riesling. The most important thing is to go with what you like and don’t be afraid of making the ‘wrong’ pairing.

When having some mates and their birds over for fish and chips (known as a fish fry in the low country), my go-to white wine remains Muscadet AOC. This appellation is located in the far western area of Loire Valley and produces white wines from the Melon de Bourgogne grape (named as such due to the grape originating from Burgundy). These wines have the acidity to offset the fried element and a wonderful salt-preserved citrus quality that goes fantastic with seafood.

The next dish that seems to emerge every year is the classic corned beef and cabbage. In the past, I’ve played around with different wines and pairings but I seem to come back to rosé. The world of these pink wonders differs vastly in their residual sugar, mouth-feel, tannin structure and body (viscosity). I lean toward the sturdy rosé wines of southern France (Bandol, Tavel) rather than the light Provincial style. The salty meat really opens these wines up, making them even better than drinking solo.

If my friends are like yours, an expensive bottle of rosé will not last long, so I need to be somewhat wallet-friendly in my choices without sacrificing quality. Producers that source grapes from wider areas can usually charge lower prices. Therefore my quantity demanding friends will be getting Côtes du Rhône rosé this year. These wines are usually Grenache heavy with the balance in Syrah, Mouvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan and Counoise. The red and rosé versions are both food-friendly and crowd-pleasing without being wallet-busters.

For those that demand a red wine for any occasion, I have not forgotten you. Many of those ‘wine experts’ out there will pull you in different directions with what red grapes go with what Irish foods. As I mentioned previously, do not fret over these pairings. Pick a wine you love and a dish you love and go for it. Even if the pairing isn’t spot on, at least you have food you like and a wine you like.

My red this year will change throughout the week depending on what rolls out of the kitchen. Quality for value, I think the best wines for this and many other occasions remain the underappreciated Beaujolais Crus. Located in southern Burgundy, just south of Mâconnais, the Cru areas are largely planted on a granite outcropping and are all appellations in their own right. The 10 Cru areas differ slightly based on tannin, structure, age-ability and texture but these Gamay based wines are the best value of a ‘Cru’ level wine anywhere in the world.

Not only do I love Gamay as a food wine but I think it’s a great transition grape for those moving from white to red. The tannins are usually less astringent, the flavors are fruit forward and the acidity is bright and palate cleansing. I’m still at a loss to explain why more people are not drinking these. In defense of the consumer, I rarely see these wines on any menu, even at the swankiest of restaurants.

So for your upcoming Irish festivities, consider turning to some wine based embedment for Saint Patrick’s Day. I’m not saying to completely forego all the other popular concoctions but remember you have other options. I hope you have a safe and blessed day with many more to you and those close to you.  Sláinte.


Suggested Wines:


Fourty Ounce Muscadet                              Muscadet Sèvre et Maine AOC, France      $15.99

Before you turn up your nose, just try it. I was pleasantly surprised over the quality of this wine packaged in a 40 ounce bottle. Located in the sub-appellation where the Sèvre and Maine Rivers come together this 100% Melon de Bourgogne drinks well above its price point. The nose has a slightly brined note with citrus (lemon and nectarine) and a slight blossom quality. The palate is bone dry with a blast of acidity, medium body and a crisp citric finish. This wine can easily conform to ‘a chill and sip’ but the acidity craves seafood (fried fish, mollusks, or shrimp).

Guigal Côtes du Rhône rosé 2014 Côtes du Rhône AOC                                                 $15.99

Containing 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 10% Syrah, this is what I refer to as a ‘sturdy’ rosé wine. The color is obviously darker than its Provincial cousins attributed to a longer skin contact. The nose has an earthy red fruit aromatic (red currant, cherry) and citrus. The palate is dry with medium plus acidity, medium body and a slight perception of tannins. There are flavors of cherry skin, toasted Brazil nut, and an earthy / herbal note that persists on the finish. You can pair this wine with corned beef, grilled fish, pota brata, or grilled shrimp.


Laurent Perrachon 3 Mozaic Chénas 2016            Chenas AOC, Beaujolais                    $17.99

Chénas means a place planted with oaks and pay homage to the oak forests that once stood here. This wine has overt fruit aromatics of smoked black fruit (blackberry), flowering herbs and a light floral perfume note. The palate is dry but fruity with evident acidity and flavors of blackberry, and cherry with a pleasant bitter herbal finish. Pair this wine with Corned beef, grilled sausages, or Shepard’s pie.