Erin go Wine
Bearing in mind that the Irish are not really a wine-drinking culture, a glass of dark Guinness would probably be the most natural choice.
But this raises a broader question for those of us who really enjoy wine and matching it with food: What do you do when you want to choose a wine to match a dish that doesn't traditionally go with wine?
In the case of corned beef, the challenge is similar to that of matching wine with ham: It's a strong-flavored meat and very salty. For me, this calls for something fresh and fruity and not piercingly dry: A Beaujolais or Dolcetto, if you want a red, or something on the richer side, maybe an Alsatian white or Loire Chenin Blanc if you prefer a white.
To test this theory, I made corned beef and cabbage by a very traditional method over the weekend, simmering a store-bought "corned" brisket for hours and adding cabbage wedges and potatoes toward the end of cooking, and serving it all with mustard and horseradish on the side. An Alsatian Pinot Gris with a bit of sweetness in its full-bodied flavor worked just fine, as I report in the tasting note below.
As a bit of lagniappe for St. Paddy's, here's a non-wine-related link to a Website where you'll find a songbook full of Irish music that you can play on your computer: Midi and RealAudio sound files and links to Irish bands on the Irish Music Page, http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Marina/4870/midi.html.
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An Alsatian match for corned beef
Clear gold, with pleasant melon and grapefruit aromas. Soft citric flavors, ruby-red grapefruit with slight, honeyed sweetness, full-bodied but a bit short on acid balance. U.S. importer: W. J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., Harrison, N.Y. (March 12, 2000)
FOOD MATCH: The wine's light sweetness and soft texture becomes a plus when it's used to wash down the salty, spicy flavors of corned beef and cabbage.
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Vol. 2, No. 8, March 13, 2000