St. Patrick’s Day 2015

We venture into territory never before dared in this column: wine for St. Patrick’s Day.

If you just want to drink good wine instead of green beer or Irish whiskey, then the entire wine world is palette for your palate. Go forth.

If, however, you long to pair with fair Irish fare, read on.

Corned beef and cabbage is Irish staple. California pinot noir—bolder than Burgundy or Washington-Oregon—is a pairing that sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring.

Northern Rhône syrah also works, its earthy smoke complementing cabbage. Think Côte Rôtie (syrah with dollop of viognier), which presents a nose of both meat and flowers, evoking a lilt of Irish laughter.

If you fancy Irish stew, look to Southern Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In southern blend, syrah remains, but grenache and dollop of mourvèdre replaces viognier. You also can pour pure grenache/garnacha. With any of these pairings, you can hear the angels sing.

Fish ’n chips is not just Brit guilty pleasure, Irish bought into the take-out treat last century. And Ireland is an island, so fish—no deep-fried potatoes needed—is authentic fare. Think riesling—dry riesling, not sweet stuff mountebanks foisted on innocents in times past. Australian riesling pairs well with fish ’n chips because of its more oily texture and concentrated citrus. With this pairing, all the world seems bright and gay.

In piscatorial pinch, sauvignon blanc and dry sparkling wines go with virtually any fish and will put a smile in your partner’s eyes. And when Irish eyes are smiling, sure, they steal your heart away. Worth a shot.

Tasting notes:

  • Robert Oatley Great Southern Riesling 2013: Crisp, tangy; intense lime, lemon; light, dry, food-friendly acidity, long finish; delightful Aussie pour. $17
  • MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir 2012. Silk in the mouth pleasure; cherry, pomegranate, cola, whisper of vanilla, oak; delicate, delicious California winner. $23

Last round: May the road rise up to meet you. May wind be always at your back. May sun wash warm upon your face. And may you be finishing a bottle of the finest wine in heaven three hours before the Devil even knows you’re dead.