Perfect Pairings: Irish Food and Wine

Guinness, Irish Cream and Whiskey are all synonymous with St Patrick’s Day celebrations, but what if you still want to celebrate, but prefer to drink something else? This week, Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our favourite wines to enjoy with classic Irish food. With St Patrick’s Day right around the corner, on Saturday 17 March, let’s get started…

Ideal Wine Company Irish St Patrick's Day
If you still want to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, but prefer to drink something else – here’s what we recommend.

Irish beef stew and Aglianico

There’s no food more quintessentially Irish than an Irish beef stew! Although there are many variations on this classic dish, the most popular contains succulent cubes of beef and hearty roots vegetables. This warming dish is full of flavour – so needs a wine that equally packs a punch. As it’s made with beef, a red wine will work perfectly. We recommend trying an Italian Aglianico, a full-bodied red with rich tannins. This wine is a perfect match for the hearty and rich stew. The savoury, earthy and gamey flavours of the wine are the perfect complement to both the root vegetables and meat. This comforting paring is sure to warm you up!

Irish pancakes and Chardonnay

Boxty – or Irish pancakes – are a traditional potato pancake made with mashed and/or grated potatoes. These are often served early in the day and are the perfect platform for loading with a variety of toppings. Although you can top your pancake with anything, a great wine to make the potato base is a classic Chardonnay. The undertones of apple, lemon and pineapple in the wine will add depth to the mild flavours of the potato, without overwhelming the pancake. The sharp crispness of the wine will ensure that your dish remains light. It’s the ideal palate cleanser!

Shepherd’s pie and Sangiovese

As one of the heartiest dishes Ireland has to offer, a classic Shepherd’s Pie needs to be carefully paired. Consisting of seasoned minced lamb and vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes, this spiced and fragrant dish is full of flavour. To match this, opt for a classic food-pairing wine: Sangiovese. As the main grape of Chianti, it is a lively and acidic wine. With moderate tannins and savoury notes, Sangiovese will balance the richness of the spiced lamb.

Potato and leek soup and Grüner Veltliner

On a cold day, look no further than potato and leek soup. The richness of soft potatoes with heavy cream balanced out by the savoury bit of sautéed leeks is the perfect comfort food. If you’re looking to serve this dish on St Patrick’s Day with wine, always look for a crisp white. Our recommendation is a delicious Grüner Veltliner. The elevated acidity of this wine will help to cut through the creamy weightiness of the soup, refreshing your palate between spoonfuls. As well, its classic peppery, green notes will complement the botanical flavour profiles of the leeks and any other herbs added. Look for high acidity and herbaceous notes and you can’t go wrong!

If you’re looking for more than Guinness and whiskey to pair with your food this St Patrick’s Day, wine is an excellent choice. This is a day for celebrating – there’s no better excuse than to open a bottle!

The Perfect Wine for Toasting Your Fabulous Mum This Mother’s Day!

We don’t need an excuse to celebrate mums, but this Mother’s Day brings the perfect opportunity to make them feel special. Ideal Wine Company have some great recommendations for choosing the perfect bottle of wine for your mother, something for every taste!

Ideal Wine Company Mother's Day wine
Here are our recommendations for choosing the perfect bottle of wine for your mother!

Shiraz – for the mums who love bold flavours

If your mum loves big flavours, there’s no better option than a Shiraz. This big and brooding red wine is known for its powerful black fruit flavours, savoury undertones and high ABV. This wine isn’t for the faint-hearted but is the perfect warming drink for this Mother’s Day.

Merlot – for mums who like a fruity wine

For a smooth, lush and less aggressive wine choice, Merlot is a safe and reliable choice. With upfront fruit flavours, moderate tannin and balanced acidity, this wine works for any occasion. You can expect to be met with flavours of black cherry, plum, chocolate, dried herbs and cedar, all coming together for a truly delicious sip. Merlot is the perfect crowd pleaser that’s sure to go down well.

Sémillon – perfect for mums who like a honeyed finish

If you’re looking for a full-bodied white wine this Mother’s Day, look no further than a nice bottle of Sémillon. This Bordeaux-borne grape is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, giving an otherwise lush, mouth-filling wine a welcome hint of zippiness. The light and zingy notes elevate the notes to bring a refreshing finish – perfect for the beginning of spring! Try looking for a variety with some age or oak on it, as this gave give some truly delicious notes of honey, almond, and an unctuous texture.

Saignée – for mums who love rosé – with a twist

Saignée is like no other rosé. Considered a by-product of red winemaking, this unique style of wine us often darker and bolder in colour than any other rosé. You’ll find this wine ranging in shade from deep pink to light purple, with bold and fruity aromas. Key flavours you can expect to find include sweet raspberry and cherry, leading into savoury notes of white pepper and bacon. If your mum is looking to branch out from the usual rosé, this is certainly one to try!

Prosecco – for celebrating mums in style

When it comes down to it, there’s no better way to celebrate than with a glass of bubbly. This Mother’s Day, why not break out the Prosecco to toast to your mum? This dependable Italian fizz is perfect for a variety of events and is sure to go down a treat. Most Prosecco is classified as extra dry, meaning you can expect medium acidity, sherbet sweetness and a floral freshness in each sip. With soft bubbles, serve your Prosecco ice cold and in tulip-shaped glasses – the perfect receptacle to appreciate those delicate white flower aromas!

This Mother’s Day, there are plenty of wines to choose from. Whether your mum is a fan of white, red, rosé or something sparkling, there’s something for every mum.

Love lasagna? Here’s how to pair different wines with different varieties of lasagna

Lasagna, the great Italian comfort food, is always a crowd pleaser. The layers of pasta, meat and sauce always go down well. But did you know there are so many types of lasagne? Beyond the traditional tomato and béchamel variety, there is a wide range of varieties that include a creamy white sauce and a pesto-driven option. This week, Ideal Wine Company is showing you some of our favourite lasagnes and what wine to serve with them.

Ideal Wine Company wine and lasagna
Did you know there are so many types of lasagne? Here’s what wine you should be pairing with them…

Red lasagne– high acidity and dried fruit

Perhaps the most common type of lasagna, red lasagne is usually the first variety to come to mind. With its traditional tomato and béchamel sauce combination, it is stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta and meat. This hearty and warming meal works well with an equally intense red wine. Try opting for Aglianico, a black grape wine found in the South of Italy. This wine’s high tannin content complements this rich and fatty dish. In addition, the dried fruit flavours and the high acidity work perfectly to cut through the slightly sweet tanginess of the hearty tomato sauce.

White lasagne– look for leanness

If you’re looking for something a bit different with your lasagna, a white lasagna, or lasagne blanca, is a great alternative. Rather than using the traditional bolognaise tomato sauce, a white lasagne consists of peas, mushrooms, Italian sausage and a creamy white sauce. With this type of dish, you should be pairing it with a wine like Arneis. This Piedmontese grape is a zingy and lean white wine that acts like a herb. When served with béchamel or other creamy white sauces, it infuses the dish with earthy and unmistakable green notes. With the amount of heavy creaminess in this dish, the wine’s lean and olive driven qualities are sure to cleanse your palette.

Pesto lasagne– opt for rich and white

This pesto-based alternative of traditional lasagne combines parmesan cheese, basil, pine nuts and olive oil. The result is a dish that is full of flavour and aroma. If you’re serving this dish with wine, you can’t go wrong with a Vermentino. This equally lean and green option is dry, a touch oily and just bitter enough to provide the perfect partner to the fragrant lasagna. This Italian white provides the perfect aromatic hints of herby green to complement the pesto.

Sangiovese – the universal choice to pair with lasagne

If you’re eating any type of lasagna, Sangiovese is perfect. This really is a one-bottle-suits-all type of wine. In almost all cases, the tart and savoury wine drinks well with the intensity of lasagna. This is because the high acid and rustic flavours you can expect in Sangiovese will cut through the creamy fat and tangy tomato at the same time.

This really is the perfect choice for any type of lasagne. It’s always worth having a bottle to hand next time you make any type of lasagna!

No matter what your favourite type of lasagne is, you’ll easily be able to find the perfect wine match. Take a good look at what flavours and textures the sauce is bringing. A good rule to follow is to pair creamy sauces with lean wines and lean sauces with richer offerings. With so many lasagnas to try – and wines to pair them with- you’ll find the perfect choice for you.

Understanding Wine Vintages and Why They Matter to You

Wine can be dramatically affected by its vintage. The same grapes from the same vineyard take on distinctively different characteristics depending on the year they were harvested. We all know we should try good vintages to maximise our tasting experience, but first, we need to know what we’re looking for. Ideal Wine Company is this week breaking down how vintages can change wine and what to seek to get the best out of the experience.

Ideal Wine Company wine vintage
We’re breaking down how vintages can change wine and what to seek to get the best out of the experience.

What is a wine vintage?

First of all, the vintage of wine is the year it was produced in. When the grape was grown and harvested leads to many changes in flavours. The taste and quality can be affected, primarily because of the different weather. These conditions alter the vines and how they are growing throughout the year. The vintage date is found on the bottle, label or even cork.

The defining feature of a vintage is sunshine. If the year has seen plenty of sunny weather, the grapes are given the best chance to reach full maturity and optimum ripeness levels. However, too much heat, defined as too many days above 33 ºC, and the grapes will dry out which can lead to bitter tannins in your wine. If the year is particularly rainy or cloudy, the grapes do not fully ripen. This makes them prone to rot and disease, delivering lower quality grapes.

Wines without a vintage date are usually made by blending multiple years together. If you opt for a non-vintage wine, you’ll usually find more consistency. They are typically a house style wine that is good value but does not offer unique distinctions from year to year.

Signs to look out for

You can determine how good the vintage will be by looking out for signs in the weather. Each season has key features that can change how your wine tastes.

  • Spring: Look out for early snow and hail-storms, as these can break off flowers and buds. This could potentially reduce the crops by 100%. A sunny spring is perfect for growing wine -and drinking it!
  • Summer: For both us and grapes, rain in summer can put a dampener on things! Wet weather during the simmer can cause disease which ruin grapes. In addition, droughts and exceptionally hot weather can cause vines to pause their growth. A mild but sunny summer are the ideal conditions for a good vintage.
  • Autumn: Harvest time is the most important season for grapes. Bad weather in this period can greatly reduce the quality of the vintage. Rain can cause grapes to swell, which means they can either lose concentration or even rot. Cold weather will stop the grapes from ripening.

When vintage should matter

The wine vintage will play the biggest role in regions where the climate is very variable. If you’re buying a bottle from northern Europe, such as France, Germany or Northern Italy, you should be paying attention to the vintage.

If your wine is from a predictable climate, such as Portugal, Argentina, Australia, California and Southern Italy, you’ll see more consistency year-on-year. This makes vintage less important.

Knowing the vintage of your wine can be important, but may not be your biggest concern. If you’re buying a wine from a region where there is a lot of difference between vintages, however, it is one of the most crucial factors you should know before you buy. A little bit of research here can go a long way!

Find your perfect burger wine pairing!

Burgers are so versatile, making them one of the most popular meals for many of us and because they are so versatile there are so many wines to be matched with them. This week, Ideal Wine Company brings you the ultimate guide to the perfect wines to pair with your burger…

Ideal Wine Company Wine and Burger
Ideal Wine Company bring you the ultimate guide to the perfect wines to pair with your burger…

For a classic burger – balance sweet and bitter

Most of us are familiar with the classic burger, with meat, lettuce, tomato and onion, it’s a universal favourite. The best wine to pair with a classic burger is one that has an element of bitter and sweet, to create the perfect balance.

For this, we recommend trying a Grenache. This red wine pairs perfectly with grilled meat and suitably showcases the beef of the burger. The berry-flavour and spice of the wine create a great balance between bitterness and sweetness that rounds out the flavour and is soft on the palate.

Take your cheeseburger – focus on tannins and savoury notes

Similar to the classic burger, but with cheese, bringing tang and creaminess to your meal. When looking for a wine to pair with this, the level of tannin is a key element. This acts as a palate cleanser and lightens the heaviness of the cheese. As well, cheeseburgers tend to work well with savoury notes, as this will help to prevent the creaminess of the cheese from becoming overwhelming.

Cheeseburgers are perfect with Cabernet. The good levels of tannins in the wine refresh the palate and keep the flavours harmonious. The flavours of tomato, roasted pepper, blackcurrant and dried leather are savoury enough and better complement the cheese and ground beef combination. A perfectly balanced experience!

If a barbecue bacon cheeseburger is your favourite – look for dark fruits and spice

There’s a lot of flavour in a barbecue bacon cheeseburger. Although there is a lot of intensity loaded into each bite, a good rule to follow is to focus on the sauce. With barbecue, you’ll want dark fruit and some spice.

For this, there’s no better option than a Syrah. The smoky, earthy red works well to bring together the flavours of the burger. It really showcases the sweetness and spiciness of barbecue sauce and creates a good balance between the two strong flavours.

Bite into a mushroom Swiss burger – with something nutty and sweet

This vegetarian option is made up from grilled mushroom and a slice of nutty and buttery swiss cheese. The earthy flavours of these two key ingredients need to be matched by an earthy sweetness to round out the flavours and lighten the dish.

For this, try opting for a Merlot. The fruitiness of the wine is inherently sweeter, which is perfect for pairing with earthy flavours. With aromas of black cherry, berries, plum, chocolate and some herbs, as well as soft characteristics, a Merlot won’t overpower the subtle flavours of mushroom and swiss cheese.

When it comes to burgers, there are plenty more to choose from. A good final tip is to stick to red wines when the meat is beef and consider the sauce on the burger when looking for the perfect pair. White’s work well with white meat and you can pair both white and red well with vegetarian burgers.