Life & Lifestyle

Wine Is the New Green Beer!

Update Your St. Paddy’s Day Celebrations this year!

Drop the passé green beer routine this St. Patrick’s Day. Wear (don’t drink) something outrageously and beautifully green, then celebrate with wine!

Rejuvenate your food, too, by lightening up traditional Irish cuisine. Swap dull and heavy beer for lighter, brighter wine and dance up the night with the latest Irish music.

Use your imagination to create new versions of these food and wine pairings for your St. Patty’s Day celebration.

  1. Start the celebration with sparkling wine and oysters. French Champagne is the classic companion with oysters, but search out an English sparkling wine and the freshest oysters available. Oysters also love delicious, less expensive Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine, a still white wine from the Loire Valley.
  2. Follow the oysters with your own take on Irish Rarebit. Like American grilled cheese, it’s Ireland’s version of comfort food. Replace the dark beer with light. Use Dubliner cheddar and white wine-based mustard. Serve like fondue, or lace it over thinner slices of your favorite toasted bread (maybe sourdough or rye). Keep the Worcestershire, but leave out the egg yolks. Try a richer sparkling wine with full malolactic fermentation: A full-bodied Chardonnay or a fruity red wine lower in tannin, like a Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages.
  3. Winter calls for stew, and March calls for Irish stew. Update the ingredients beyond lamb, potatoes, and carrots. Adapt the stew to your taste. Try venison, parsnips, shallots, leeks, and golden beets. Serve a sparkling rosé, a young Rioja from Spain, or a red wine from the Douro Valley in Portugal. The heavier the stew, the heavier the wine should be.
  4. Most Irish pubs serve up bangers (pork sausages) and mash (mashed potatoes). Swap out a boring sausage for healthy or spicy ones (maybe chicken or andouille). Be creative with your mashed potatoes by adding fresh veggies like green onions, cabbage, or kale. Pair with an inexpensive red or white Bordeaux, or a Chardonnay-based sparkling wine. If you use spicy sausage, serve with Zinfandel or Syrah.
  5. Update corned beef and cabbage by grilling the cabbage to delectable sweetness. Choose a different type of cabbage and add root vegetables, such as golden beets, parsnips, or multicolored carrots. Use the sheet pan method to roast the veggies. A gorgeous rosé would pair amazingly well, still or sparkling.
  6. Shephard’s pie is another classic Irish dish made from lamb or beef and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes. Treat your guests to a vegetarian version by substituting lentils and/or beans (check out Mary McCartney’s recipe). Serve with Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier based-sparkling wine (Blanc de Noir), Syrah, or Malbec.
  7. Go for it with dessert. Options include a booze-ladened Irish whiskey cake, a tasty Irish cheese board (if you didn’t serve the rarebit), or a bread-and-butter pudding with raisins, egg custard, and spices. A crisp sparkling wine goes with any dessert, but a tawny port or a sweet Sherry would add another dimension. My choice would be to dispense with dessert and hoist another glass of sparkling wine instead.

Note: English sparkling wines challenge French Champagne for quality and affordability. Like their Italian Franciacorta counterparts, these wines are true traditional method sparkling wines made from the classic varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

Tip: Don’t add green food coloring to any wine.


Jeanne Savelle

Jeanne Savelle writes about wine for wineries, importers, and distributors. She has several certifications from The Wine Scholar Guild and WSET. She has spent 30 years following the wine business around the world. You can learn more at:,

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