Burns Night has almost become like St Patrick’s Day, celebrated virtually everywhere with people always finding some Scottish family connection as an excuse.
Haggis is of course the order of the day. It's not perhaps everyone’s idea of their favourite
dish, but if you are going to serve it – and I certainly will be – you need to think about all
those hearty, robust offal flavours as well as the seasoning and spices involved.
What to drink?
Whisky is the obvious dram to pour but I think it works better as a way to finish off the meal, not to pour all the way through it.
Red wine is needed here and something bold enough to take on all those flavours.
In Europe, Portugal, Spain and the Rhone all have wines that can work.
In the new world Shiraz from Australia, malbec from Argentina, carménère from Chile
and pinotage from South Africa could all fit the bill.
Somebody gave me a magnum of Porta 6 2015, Lisboa (Majestic £8.99 bottle or £7.99 as part of a mixed six) for Christmas and I have to say I really like this wine with its colorful label and it certainly over-delivers on price.
It’s made from indigenous Portuguese grape varieties, including touriga nacional, tinta roriz and castelão.
Made in a very simple, easy style with lots of ripe blackcurrant fruit as well as a touch of violet on the nose, the palate is very fresh with ripe tannins and more dark fruits and flavoursome finish. It's lots of fun and great value.
Jim Barry is one of Australia’s most consistent producers and The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2015, Clare Valley (Majestic £14.99 or £10.99 as part of a mixed six, Ocado £10.00) is one of
those go to wines that never fails to disappoint if you like Aussie Shiraz.
It’s one of those very satisfying wines with a bouquet of dark black fruits, spice and a touch of licorice, followed by lots of juicy fruit on the palate, more spice, earthy notes and a lingering finish.
This would be absolutely perfect with the Haggis. Baron de Ley Reserva 2013, Rioja (Co-op £10.99, Ocado £12.00) is classic Rioja made from tempranillo, aged in American oak barrels for 20 months and then a further 24 months in bottle before release.
Red fruits, oak spices and some dried herbs on the nose are followed by a very smooth, layered palate with soft tannins and a very long finish. Lovely wine.
Lastly, to finish with a glass of whisky. Glen Marnoch Limited Release Islay Single Malt Whisky (Aldi £17.49) has the classic smokiness, iodine and seaweed notes that Islay is known for, followed a very smooth palate with sweet notes and a little vanilla oak and a remarkably long finish.
What is perhaps more remarkable though is the price, this is an absolute bargain and will
certainly be perfect for raising a glass to the poet on the night itself.
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail