Dishes such as haggis call for wines that cope with the spice of the ‘chieftain puddin’ but don’t overpower other ingredients such as the oats and meats.
First up, try a Northern Rhone style Syrah where the black peppery spice, high acidity and black fruits can sit nicely with your Burns feast. Great examples from outside the Rhone are the Consolation Wild Boar Syrah from the Roussillion or the Two Vintners Some Days are Stones Syrah all the way from Oregon.
Another approach is a Southern Rhone style blend, especially if they have a year or two's bottle age. Look across the pond again to one of the Skinnner Vineyard reds, this time in El Dorado, California. The Smithereens Red has luscious red and black fruits with herbal notes of wild sage and fennel seed would make this a winner, or try the unusual 2016 100% Mourvedre – either way you won’t be disappointed.
We could go for a Spanish Tempranillo, with ripe red berries, wood spice and vanilla, as a good match but try something different with some old vine Grenache from one of the Edetaria reds, over in the Terra Alta region in Catalonia. The vineyards are 50km from Priorat and producing “garnatxa”-based wines of equal quality. One choice is the Via Terra Negre 2016. Aged in 300 litre French oak barrels for 6 months, its ripe, red and brambly fruit with soft tannins and a spicy finish would be perfect with haggis.
Having a vegetarian haggis? Well, Beaujolais can have something to offer here with a Morgan – try the Trenel Morgon Cote du Py 2015: violets, black cherries, soft tannins and a stylish mineral finish. Or a Pinot is never out of place. The structured, earthy Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2015 from Santa Barbara would be delicious. It’s pomegranate and blood orange aromas with spice, dried fig and white truffle palate capture the season perfectly.
Last but not least, you don’t have to stick with reds. Stay with us on this one! A full and firm Viognier could work a treat: its range of ripe fruit flavours would pair with the herby, pepperiness of haggis and its viscous texture means it can stand up confidently to the weightiness of the dish. Top choices would be the new vintage, just in stock Alban Vineyards Central Coast Viognier (a forward, fruity number with an intense, full-bodied style and balancing acidity that would work well) or the leaner Le P’tit Paysan L’Apiculteur Viognier with a core of ripe tropical fruits, green apples, spices and honey.
Plenty to choose from then for your Burns feast as you address your haggis (or just enjoy, perhaps not by the pint!).