Haggis lasagne anyone? | Wine by Alistair Gibson

‘Go, fetch to me a pint o’ wine, And fill it in a silver tassie; That I may drink before I go, A service to my bonnie lassie.’ Those are the words of Robbie Burns in My Bonnie Mary.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 9:04 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 5:27 pm
Fairview Pinotage

Today (Saturday) is Burns’ Night, which has become a little bit like St Patrick’s Day, in that it seems to be celebrated more widely every year and you no longer need to be an Irishman, or in this case a Scot, to celebrate it.

It’s also a great excuse for a party in the depths of January.

Pubs and restaurants are offering haggis-inspired menus this week and I was even sent a press release from a supermarket featuring a recipe for haggis lasagne!

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Cantine Rallo Il Principe

Whisky is the traditional accompaniment to haggis, but I prefer to have a wee dram at the end of the meal, so red wine it is. Haggis is quite a dense, rich, peppery dish and with all that accompanies it there are lots of earthy flavours on the plate. That means the wines need to be fairly robust, with enough fruit to stand up to those flavours.

Reds from the Rhone Valley, Australian shiraz, new world Rhone-style wines, and maybe Californian zinfandel, can all work.

Here are a few suggestions.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2017, Padthaway (Waitrose £8.99 on offer from £11.99 until February 18) is one of those wines that could only come from Australia.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz

It actually takes its name from an ancient outcrop of rocks in the Padthaway region of South Australia, and perhaps sadly not a local pub rock band.

Never mind, this wine is deep in colour with dark berry fruits, spice, a little mint and some dark chocolate on the nose. The palate is quite full-bodied with juicy dark fruits, some well-integrated tannins, and a spicy, supple finish.

Haggis is, without question, one of those love it or loathe it dishes, a little bit like pinotage in some ways, that South African grape variety that causes strong feelings at both ends of the scale. So it is not so strange that pinotage can actually work quite well as a match.

Fairview Barrel Aged Pinotage 2018, Paarl (Waitrose £7.49 on offer from £9.99 until February 18) is produced by one of South Africa’s most well-known estates and is made from old bush vine fruit and then aged in a mixture of older oak barrels.

The nose shows spice, dark plum-like fruit, roasted coffee notes and a little liquorice, followed by more dark plum and spice on the palate and a nice balanced, fresh finish.

As for matching a wine with haggis lasagne, how about Cantine Rallo ‘Il Principe’ Nero d’Avola 2018, Sicily (Hermitage Cellars £10.99) as a sort of Scotland meets Italy fusion?

Made from one of Italy’s most important indigenous grapes, and produced by one of Sicily’s most interesting organic wineries, this is made with very little oak and is all about the fruit.

The bouquet offers red cherries, blackcurrant, a touch of spice and some dried herbs, before an elegant, fresh, supple palate with a lovely, elegant finish.