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!

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.

Top Tips for Serving Wine with Red Meat

As a general rule, most of us accept that red meat works best with red wine. As red wines are usually heavier in body and have a bolder taste, it is usually our first choice to match the richer taste of red meat. But with so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat? This week, Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our favourite suggestions for serving wine with red meat.

Ideal Wine Company red meat and wine
With so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat?

Lean meat – go light

Due to the higher tannic value, alcohol content and antioxidant density, bold red wines are perfect for red meat. The fat content of the protein-dense food takes us a while to digest and is, therefore, best met with a heavy red wine. A rich cut of red meat, such as a prime rib, pairs nicely with a bold and high tannin red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Should you be using a relatively lean cut of red meat, try using a wine with lower tannins and a lower alcohol percentage. A rule worth remembering is the leaner the meat, the lighter the wine.

Lamb requires delicacy

Unlike most other red meats, lamb is delicate in both flavour and texture. As a result of this, you’ll want to adjust your wine match slightly to accommodate for this. Selecting a bolder red wine with a smoother tannin should work well. A Syrah or a Malbec are perfect options for lamb.

A top tip to remember is that lamb often takes on the flavour of any sauce that is paired with it. This means you should pay close attention to whatever sauce is being served with the meat before choosing your wine.

Match the intensity

When it comes to pairing beef with wine, there are several variables that must come into consideration. With so many ways to serve the meat, this can alter your wine selection drastically. For leaner cuts of beef, look for a light or medium-bodied red wine. These should have a slightly higher acidity that is useful for cutting through the texture of the lean meat.

For fatty cuts of beef, look for a bold red wine with high tannin. As tannins are astringents that work as a palate cleanser, these tannins help to lighten your palate between bites. Our top choices for serving with fatty meats are wines like a Barolo or a Napa Cabernet.

Should you be serving your beef in a stew, you’ll want to match the intensity of the dish with a wine. For example, a top sirloin beef stew works perfectly with a slightly bolder, medium red. A Sangiovese is an excellent choice.

It’s all about the sauce

If you’re serving your red meat with a sauce, this becomes an important aspect to consider. These can drastically alter the taste of the meat and can even open up a wider range of wine for you to choose from.

  • Tangy sauces: Let’s take BBQ sauces for example, look for a fruity red wine. Lambrusco, Shiraz, Syrah, Zinfandel, Primitivo and Negroamaro are all good starting points.
  • Green sauces: Whether this is a mint sauce or a chimichurri, look for fruity bold red wines with smoother tannins. Try opting for a Malbec or a Monastrell.
  • Tomato sauces: The classic Italian Marinara sauce is often paired well with red meat. If you’re serving a tomato sauce, a medium-bodied red with good acidity is perfect, such as a Sangiovese, Merlot or a Bardolino.
  • White sauces: Creamy white sauces offer a variety of pairing options. From peppercorn sauce to a Béchamel, you’ll want to base your choice on the strength of the sauce. A peppercorn sauce works well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, due to their peppery notes. A Béchamel requires a medium-bodied red, such as a Valpolicella Ripasso. The power of the white sauce is key here, so it’s worth considering how powerful your sauce will be in the dish.

No matter how you’re serving your red meat, red wine will always make the perfect accompaniment. Match your intensity and concentrate on how lean your dish is and you’ll enjoy the perfect pairing!

Alternative Ways to Pair Champagne and Food

We all know the classic pairings for Champagne. From caviar to oysters, these traditional options are tried and tested delights. But why not try something new or perhaps a little unusual? There are a wide range of foods that pair perfectly with Champagne and step outside the ordinary. This week, Ideal Wine Company brings you some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Ideal Wine Company Champagne and food pairings
We all know the classic pairings for Champagne, but here are some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Macaroni Cheese – soft and creamy match made in heaven

When thinking of food to serve with Champagne, macaroni cheese may not be the obvious first choice. But when the balance of flavours is right, these two work together incredibly well. There are a few important variables to perfect with your pasta before this can work. Make sure that your cheese is not too sharp, so consider opting for a softer creamy cheese with flavour. A good smoked gouda is perfect. When it comes to the Champagne, your wine needs to be acidic enough to cut through the cheese. Balance is key to pairing Champagne and macaroni cheese, but a great rule of thumb is to keep the cheese soft and let the wine be slightly bolder. The perfect comforting pairing!

Spring rolls with spicy sweet chilli sauce – opt for sweetness

This popular dish is often a snack or starter and can make a surprisingly good pair for Champagne. The goal of this balance is to reduce the fat of the spring rolls and increase the lightness of the vegetables. To do this, look for a Champagne with low acidity and opt for a big bubble finesse. A good rule to remember for pairing spring rolls and Champagne is to meet spiciness with sweetness. The more heat you add, the sweeter your Champagne should be. This provides a delicious balance that is unexpected but delicious.

Fried mushrooms – look for fruity and earthy notes

Although it may sound unusual, Champagne and fried foods are the perfect pairing. The greasy richness of these foods is elevated by the sweet bubbles of Champagne. A great example of this is fried mushrooms. Try opting for a Blanc de Noirs, a white sparkling wine made with dark grapes such as Pinot Noir. The earthiness found in mushrooms is complemented by the rich fruity and earthy notes that can be found in options such as a Blanc de Noir. A slight sweetness will go a long way in lightening this dish.

Fish tacos – high acidity for zingy food

Fish tacos present a wide range of flavours. From zingy lightness provided by the limes to the heat of the chilli to the subtly of the fish, there is a careful balancing act of flavours in place. A super dry and crisp Champagne will fit perfectly into this. These wines have little or no added sugar, meaning they’ll keep up with the zesty flavour of the dish. If the fish has lime or salsa added to it, it’s key that you find a Champagne with even higher acids. This means the wine will taste bright. As well as this, look for a good sharpness and minerality prevents the wine from tasting too flat. With a good balance, Champagne and fish tacos create a light and lively pairing.

Don’t be afraid to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to your Champagne pairings. While the classics work well, there are plenty of alternative pairings that can widen your use of Champagne. There’s no longer any need to save the Champagne for special occasions!

Pairing Wine with Indian Food

Undoubtedly Indian food is one of the nation’s favourite dishes. With intense flavours and heavy spices, Indian meals can be difficult to pair with wine. Add in the wide array of curries, sauces and chutneys on offer and the flavour profile becomes even harder to define. But you can enjoy many wines with your Indian food, which is why this week Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our top tips for pairing Indian food with reds and whites.

Ideal Wine Company Wine and Indian Food
Ideal Wine Company are showing you how to pair Indian food with red and white wine.

Basics to consider

Bold dishes require simpler wines, that’s the main thing to remember. Anything too strong or bold will be competing for dominance. A wine known for its simplicity will help to balance out the flavours of your meal and contribute to a better overall taste.

To help further balance the dish, there are considerations to bear in mind. Look at how spicy the dish is and the base of the sauce. This will give you a good starting point for matching your wine.

Spicy curries and tomato-based sauces – fruity and light

Blending together tomatoes and curry paste is a popular base for Indian curries and creates a highly spiced meal. This combination can be found in common favourites, such as Vindaloo, Masala, Baingan, Jalfrezi and Bharta sauces. As they create a spicy taste, you’ll want to counteract this heat and intense flavour. Ideally, do this with something light and fruity that can be served cool. This will allow the spice to remain the dominant flavour, the tomatoes to be complemented by fruity notes and the cool temperature to provide a welcome coolness. For this, try opting for rosé, as its fresh notes of fruit provide a good counter. If you’re a red wine drinker, a medium bodied option, such as a Pinot Noir or GSM blend, will provide a depth of fruity flavour.

Green sauces – stick to a classic dry white

These green curries get their colour through leafy greens being slow cooked with cream, onions and spices. Coriander is also prominent in a large variety of these sauces. In doing this, a herby and delicious dish is created. Due to the herbaceous and freshness of this curry, it’s best to stick with a classic option. Most herb-dominated dishes work well with a dry white wine that highlights the lean green profile. With these dishes, we recommend trying a dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc. These whites are the perfect option. Should you fancy something livelier, a good dry sparkling wine can make a great match too. Try opting for an extra-brut sparkling wine to match the herbal lightness of the dish.

Cream sauces – tart fruitiness and medium tannins

Whether your sauce uses heavy cream, yoghurt or coconut milk, these dishes usually have a thick sauce. Notably examples are dishes like Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken and Kormas. The cream softens the rich spices, as the fats in the cream absorb and diffuse the spices throughout the dish. As these are usually less heat-driven, they are one of the easiest types of curries to pair with wine. Deep reds with a medium tannin are ideal for cream based curries. Look out for subtle brown baking spice flavours and a tart fruitiness to enhance your dish. A Zinfandel or Carignan is usually a good place to start.

When it comes to Indian food, wines with simple, well-defined flavours are the best option. These are better at creating harmony between your food and drink. Should your Indian food be particularly spicy, there are 3 main traits your wine should have: serve chilled, pair with wine that’s lower in alcohol content and drink a wine with some sweetness.