Red, white or green?
In this Saint Patrick's month it is interesting to note that the Irish, like the Scots, have such a long association with fine wines,
particularly the wines of Bordeaux. Scots and Irish merchants dominated the wine trade in the last century and to this day famous
Châteaux like the 2nd growth Léoville-Barton are owned by the Irish Barton family.
However it is not fine wine, but the ales and porters for which the Emerald Isle is famous that seem more likely bed-fellows for traditional Irish cuisine: solid, heart-warming food of peasant origins that makes the best use of inexpensive ingredients. The flavours tend to be robust and powerful, so whilst a foaming glass of the black stuff might well be the beverage of choice, wines that have some depth and earthiness, not too much subtlety, and perhaps a little kick of acid or tannin would fit the bill too.
Modern Irish cuisine tends to be a sophisticated spin on traditional Irish themes, but those hearty ingredients and up-front flavours are still in evidence: black puddings, hams and other local produce. My wine choices should cope well and won't strain the bank balance.
UK stockist are given, with prices in pounds sterling (approx £5=$8US)
Safeway Muscadet 1998
On the nose this wine displays fine, ripe pear and juicy apple fruit. There is a little yeasty note too and on the palate, a touch of leafiness amongst ripe orchard fruits. Simple, delicious, and with enough punch to complement and cut through the strong flavours of this month's black pudding and apple starter. (£3.29)
Château Petit Roubié 1997
From Southern France, there is a distinct caramel note in the aroma of this wine, as well as peach and apricot fruit. Medium-bodied on the palate, it is fruit-driven and would be ideal on its own, with fish, or with simply prepared pasta. (Safeway £4.99)
Chablis Domaine Sainte Celine 1997
A clean-sweep for France in the whites with this classic Chablis. A lovely wine, the nose is rich and nutty with mineral character and aromas of pear and citrus fruits. There is an earthiness too, and powerful, complex flavours on the palate. Quite full and buttery, yet long and with good acidity. (Sainsbury £7.99)
Terra Viva Vino Rosso
The nose of this of organic wine suggests sweet currants and berries. The palate delivers a dense, mellow mouthful of fruit and a little bitter cherry note adds interest. There is typically Italian acidity that adds an edge in the finish, but this wine is mostly about warm, juicy, easy-drinking fruit. Perfect for the glazed roast ham. (Tesco £3.99)
Cono Sur Pinot Noir 1998
I have followed this Chilean Pinot for a few years and it has improved with each vintage. It might still be one you'll either love or hate, but it is a good expression of the variety with its rather "stinky" animal character, but plenty of soft strawberry fruit and pepper. Silky textured in the mouth, it is warming and smooth with some tannic bite. (Oddbins £4.49)
Rizzardi Valpolicella Classico 1997
Rather subdued on the nose, but there are leafy, soft, cherry and herb aromas. On the palate this is a serious wine with a firm, juicy palate displaying ripe cherry fruit underpinned with a chocolaty depth. The finish is balanced by good tannins and acidity. (Peckhams Scotland £5.99)