Pair It Up! St. Patrick's Day Food

While I couldn’t really give a hoot about green beer, Shamrock shakes or any other crummy so-called St. Patrick’s Day traditions, I do have plenty of time for a nice stout, a dram of blended whiskey and some hearty Irish fare. Since wine is at the forefront of this site, I figured it’d be even more fun to pair up some classic Irish dishes with Canadian wines on this March 17...


A nice dollop of colcannon is food for the soul – think of it as an Old World side dish with lots of character. And while it’s typically served around Halloween in Ireland, it’ll do just fine on St. Patrick’s Day.

The colcannon recipe over at Irish Central is a sure-fire winner. Boil the potatoes, cook the cabbage (but not too much!), mash together and lightly season. It’s simple, yes, but deeply satisfying.

Wine-wise, the richer texture of colcannon and that slight bite and acidity from the cabbage can make a wine pairing tricky. A crisp, dry white that can deliver fresh fruit and some acidity to cut through the texture (and stand up to the cabbage component) will do the trick, and the Okanagan Crush Pad 2014 Narrative White does just that.

A blend of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Blanc, there’s just the right balance of ripe red apple, peach and pear notes to go with the light spice and peach notes of the Gewürz. 

Irish stew

Speaking of hearty, an Irish stew is just the thing to help forget about the five-plus centimetres of snow we just got here in Winnipeg (UGH). Lamb, potatoes, carrots, onions, thyme and more – it’s a dish that warms your bones. The recipe over at Food & Wine might not be the quickest dish to make, but the results will be spectacular. But hey, spoiler: you will need a can of stout to sacrifice for the dish.

Irish stew is a good excuse to bust out a big hearty red wine, and the Dirty Laundry 2012 Kay-Syrah is certainly no slouch (and doesn’t break the bank). A blend of 85 per cent Syrah and 15 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s got plenty of weight, some modest tannin and a nice balance of earthy and dark berry notes, as well as some spice that will sing with your Irish stew.

Gur cake

This pastry, known as chester cake elsewhere, features two thin layers of pastry with a filling of raisins, bread or cake crumbs and more. It’s typically associated with Dublin, but for our purposes let’s pair the Odlums version of gur cake with the Bench 1775 2013 Whistler Late Harvest Chardonnay. This wine isn’t quite as sweet as, say, an icewine, but delivers enough raisin and tropical/baked red apple flavours to ensure it won’t overpower the dessert. A heavenly pairing.

You can buy Ben's pairing picks by clicking on the bottles below!

2014 Narrative White        2012 Kay-Syrah            2013 Whistler Late Harvest Chardonnay

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.

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