The arrival of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland in 1169 affected both farming and diet in Ireland. Wheat, peas, and beans became staple foods and people began preparing more elaborate dishes. The potato was introduced to Ireland by the late 1500s and became the mainstay of the Irish diet. In the 1840s, the country’s heavy reliance on potatoes led to the disaster known as the Irish Potato Famine.
Irish food is known for the quality and freshness of its ingredients. Most cooking is done without herbs or spices, except for salt and pepper. Foods are usually served without sauce or gravy, but Ireland is in fact a brewing nation and that makes it even more fun to pair a traditional Irish-style beer with the many Irish dishes.
A salty, fatty dish, as corned beef and cabbage, meets its match with a lighter, sessionable beer with a sweet spot. Shepherd’s pie, or oysters are paired very well with a brown ale, while an Irish stew is probably the easiest beer and food pairing especially if you add some stout to your stew.
Sparkling wines are very good with fish and chips, as you will find the bubbles will cut through a lot of sharpness from vinegar and add a delicate sweetness to your food. If you really want to push the boat out, you can eat your fish and chips with champagne or a fine cava; if however budget is on your mind, prosecco is thoroughly recommended.
The same principles that apply to wine matching apply to whiskey matching. Flavours can either be complemented or contrasted. You’re looking for a balance – the whiskey should not dominate the food and vice versa. Smoke and peat are common flavours found in whiskey, they go particularly well with smoked foods, such as salmon, mackerel, oysters, mussels, duck, chicken or venison.
Traditional Irish cuisine is a great match for Guinness but it’s also a great match for wines as well. Irish consumers new preferences for wine from all over the globe and changes in expectations for style, taste and price expands the wine landscape.
White wines as Safeway Muscadet, Chardonnay, Chablis or Australian Riesling because the high acid gives it zest and cleans up the mouth yet the wine’s light body does not overpower either the dish.
A fruity red wine, certainly a Syrah, works to cool the spices found in the sausages and a slightly spicy Syrah will complement the piquant banger. A Pinot Noir from Sonoma would do well in bringing acidity to the dish. If you wanted to go with something a little bolder, I would suggest a Malbec from Argentina.