Burns Night is almost upon us, and for those of you not in the know, it’s basically a great excuse to eat haggis (not to everyone’s taste, but there are veggie versions for those of you with a delicate constitution), as well as traditional neeps and tatties, all washed down with copious amounts of wine.
And as a leading London wine merchant, let us help you navigate the sometimes confusing food and wine pairing. Because haggis isn’t a very well known flavour…
Burns Night – the time of year when the Scots and Northern Irish mark the anniversary of Robert Burns birthday – 25th January, by reciting Burns’ work and reminiscing about his life.
The first-ever Burns Night was held 5 years after his death, when 9 of his closest friends got together to celebrate their friend’s life. They performed a few favourite pieces of his work and one gave a toast, which is now known as the ‘Immortal Memory’.
But more than just getting together and talking about poetry, the friends shared the now infamous meal of haggis, neeps and tatties, and drank wine and whiskey alongside, thus beginning a tradition that is still enjoyed to this day.
Ode to the Haggis
Haggis is an unusual concept for anyone, not Scottish. Besides being Scotland’s national dish, it’s also the stuff of legends, inspiring many a poet and writer to pen an ode to it, not least Rabbie Burns to whom the evening is dedicated.
Of course, you might think you can only drink whiskey at Burns Night, what with it being a Scottish affair and all, but you’d be mistaken. In fact, the great man himself, while penning many poems, including the ode to a haggis, also wrote about drinking ‘a pint of wine’ is his song “The Golden Locks of Anna”.
So it only seems right that we should honour his memory with the best wines we can. And who better to show you the ropes than your local wine shop in Battersea?
But what wine pairs perfectly with this savoury Great chieftain o the puddin’ race? To be more exact, what wine works well with a peppery blend of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, mashed up with onions, oatmeal, suet and spices, cooked encased in a sheep’s stomach? Delicious.
Given that the meal itself will have lots of strong spicy flavours, with plenty of textures, it makes sense to combine it with a wine with bags of flavour, preferably something spicy, but more importantly something that is capable of holding its own when going toe to toe with that fine haggis.
Wines to drink at Burns Night
When looking for wholesale wine for Burns Night, opt for a juicy, fruit-laden red where the tannins aren’t too overpowering; or a creamy white, where the rich, deep oaky notes align melodiously with those of the main course.
Choose red grape varieties such as Shiraz/Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache or Malbec. However white grapes such as Viognier or Pinot Gris work too, or even Chardonnay, as long as the wine has a heavy oak influence.
Also, if you can, choose a wine that is the product of a hot climate, as the grapes tend to be riper than those grown in cooler climates. Meaning they tend to create a more intense wine flavour, resulting in a deeper texture. Plus, you can’t go wrong with wines that have a 13.5% alcohol by volume, or above.
The wine your local wine merchant recommends
Cru Beaujolais – Cru Beaujolais is the best that Beaujolais has to offer. And if you’re celebrating the Bard, then you won’t go far wrong with something from one of the 10 Beaujolais Crus. We offer a Château Fontesteau Cru Bourgeois Haut Médoc – “Both powerful and elegant, this wine is ample and rich in the palate.” This 2014 beauty has a complex nose with toasty aromas that will combine wonderfully with the oatmeal, and the spice of the wine will match the spice of the pudding.
Carignan – Carignan wines are finally being taken seriously for their quality. Rich, red fruity flavours combined with baking spice notes make Carignan the ideal food wine.
Shiraz-Grenache – You can’t go far wrong with an Australian Shiraz Grenache to sit on your table and accompany your haggis. This fresh, medium-bodied style of wine with its ruby red colour, complements strong, peppery flavours, making this wine a classic choice for Burns Night.
Viognier – A full-bodied white wine that more than holds its own with the above red wine options. Choose a viognier that is oak-aged – this adds a depth of flavour, making the wine silky and creamy, much like other bolder white wines, such as Chardonnays.
Now, let’s all join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne, cheers!