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Corned Beef, Cabbage and Wine
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed March 12, 2002. For more information go to

Perhaps one of our Irish readers can fill me in on this, but it was with considerable surprise that I've recently heard that the custom of serving corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day is not authentic Irish but Irish-American.

But be that as it may, every year as we approach the annual feast day of Ireland's patron saint on March 17, I get a lot of E-mail from folks who plan to enjoy the traditional feast ... and want to know what wine will match.

It's been a couple of years since we addressed this topic, so let's take it up again before the first tenor launches into "Danny Boy."

Corned beef, frankly, isn't the world's best meat to serve with wine. Like ham, it's salty and spicy and strong-flavored. It would war with a more refined red and would overwhelm a lighter white. And bear in mind that the traditional Irish pub will be much more likely to offer you a tall, bitter pint of Guinness than a glass of wine. (Guinness, in fact, goes very well indeed with corned beef and might be my first beverage choice.)

But if wine it must be, then here's my advice: Choose a red that's fresh and fruity with snappy acidity. A Beaujolais would work fine, or if you want something with a little more authority, a Barbera from Northwestern Italy or perhaps even a Chianti. Or maybe best of all, a Mourvedre. Bandol in Provence is the benchmark, but just about any Mourvedre-based wine from Provence or Languedoc or even California or Australia would get the job done. If you prefer a white, think fruity and off-dry, a German Riesling would be fine, or a Loire Chenin Blanc such as Vouvray.

Of course, if you slather on the horseradish, all wine bets are off!

And now, as we leave you for today with the wish that the wind be always at your back, here's a link to an excellent Website that has nothing to do with wine but that will entertain you with Irish traditional music in honor of the season: Irish Traditional Music.


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