We are all irish for the day!
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Lá Fhéile Pádraig, The Day of the Festival of Patrick, is a celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick who was the foremost patron saint of Ireland. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland as well as celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.  In fact, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.  More than 36 million Americans claim Irish as their primary ethnicity with over 80 million claiming the same worldwide.  It’s no wonder we all become a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Jameson Irish Whiskey and Guinness Beer are two adult beverages we all associate with this holiday known for drinking, parades, and green beer, but what about the wine lovers?  Ireland is not known for their wine production but I really want wine with my corned beef and cabbage or lamb stew – two very traditional dishes served on St. Paddy’s Day.

I am one of those folks who enjoy corned beef and cabbage all year long, and don’t wait to have it on this venerable holiday.  I have a tendency as well to pair the wine I chose to go with the meal from the spices I use on the corned beef and the sides, cabbage in particular.

For a red wine, I typically chose a lighter style of red such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.  Slightly chilled and light enough to not overwhelm the flavors of the corn beef they also don’t fight with the cabbage to the extent that most wines will.  This year I’m bringing home Château de Varennes Beaujolais-Village.  The nose is both fine and intense with floral (violet, peony) and raspberry, blackcurrant notes. The palate is refreshing, fleshy and full-bodied with ripe, fruit notes. The finish is long and refreshing with lasting flavors. This wine has nice robust fruit flavors that are balanced by acidity and a mild tannic structure.  The light acidity and mild tannins are essential to cut through the fatty nature and saltiness of the corned beef.  It is youthful and bright with great flavor but soft and light enough to pair nicely with the food.

My white choice for the dish is Jadix Picpoul de Pinet from France.  I’ve always said Picpoul is like sunshine in a glass. This is a gorgeous white, loaded with green apple, honey dew melon, lemon and a stony-mineral note. All of these clean, crisp flavors along with a light body that ends with a refreshing finish that lingers on the tip of your tongue. If you drink Italian Pinot Grigio, Spanish Albariño or Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere - this may be the next wine for you.  The steely acidity that also pairs well with the salty/fatty corned beef.  It also doesn’t battle the pickling spices used in most corned beef cooking.  The wine pairs well with vegetarian dishes so cabbage is in harmony with this wine as well, so you have the best of both meat and vegetable pairing.

This year we are also preparing a traditional lamb stew and will have two wines to serve with this meal.  You can say that we are celebrating all weekend with some of our favorite Irish fare!  I really enjoy Shiraz with lamb so I’m bringing home the new Saldo Shiraz. In typical fashion from The Prisoner wine group, this Shiraz is somewhat fruity forward but with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon there is enough dryness to temper the fruity aspects of the wine.  There is enough herbaceousness to pair well with the lamb and the mild black fruit notes pair nicely with the roasted veggies in the stew.

My white choice is a new favorite of mine and frankly I use any excuse to sip on Celeste Verdejo from Spain. Brilliant pale gold in color the nose reveals herbaceous notes with undertones of fruit. It is actually a blend of Verdejo (at least 75%)  and Sauvignon Blanc. Silky upfront it has a zingy acidity and delightful mineral notes that carries through on the long, persistent finish. It will go great with corned beef as well.  A great all-around wine to just have on hand! The Celeste Verdejo will pair nicely with all components of the stew and is a perfect foil for this rich treat.

Have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day folks.  If wine isn’t your thing, raise a glass of Jameson’s or a pint of Guinness.  Sláinte!