Authors and poets generally write about what they know. In that case, some of his more popular poems suggest Scotland’s bard Rabbie Burns was clearly acquainted with matters of the heart (A Red, Red Rose) and nature (To a Mouse).
Of course this year, we will be enjoying our Burns Supper within the comfort of our own home. However, the two poems that are typically aired most frequently at Burns Supper events across the country show that he also had a passion for food and drink.
Tam o’Shanter tells of a farmer who spends a little too much time at a pub in Ayr on market day, describing Tam’s consumption of beer and whisky. Let’s just say that he appears to exceed his weekly recommended level of 14 units.
And the other is the Address to a Haggis. Here Burns praises the haggis, among other things comparing its moistness to the delights of a whisky.
And, while it is Scotland’s national drink that will have pride of place for the toasts that accompany the centre of attraction, there is room for some excellent wines to match the food on the anniversary of the Bard’s birth.
Typically, a Burns Supper menu will feature a broth, followed by haggis, neeps and tatties, then cheese with oatcakes.
If you are planning to celebrate with a traditional line up, there are some wine choices that lend themselves perfectly to the occasion.
A full-bodied Scotch broth is the ideal partner for a fresh Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which has the zest to cut through the hearty nature of the soup, or a Pouilly Fumé such as this one from Jonathan Pabiot which has all the classic characteristics of the Loire.
The main attraction, of course, is the haggis – known as the ‘chieftain o’ the puddin’ race’ to Burns and his followers. The spicy nature of the dish makes it a great match for an earthier red such as the ‘Papeta’. The fact it is produced by a Scottish couple living in the south of France serves to further strengthen its credentials as the ideal partner to your meal! For white lovers, you could opt for a Riesling from Domaine Schwach in Alsace, a wine that is sufficiently complex to deal with the varied flavours of the main course.
Robust ‘natural’ reds are also a good choice, something like the ‘Banzai’ from our friend Julien Voogt in Bordeaux has the ideal ‘gamey’ quality to match the haggis perfectly.
Thanks to the many of you who have started leaving ratings for our wines on our website. Among those to receive a 5-star review, the Zinfandel from Dancing Crow would be an ideal wine to wash down a Scottish cheeseboard – all the more so as it is currently reduced as part of our bin end sale!
And then, naturally, whether it is reciting poems, singing the popular Burns songs, or merely engaging in chat about the cleverness of the man’s work, you should bring the evening to a close with a fine Scottish malt. Our only recommendation here is that you don’t make the mistake that almost proved fatal for Tam o’Shanter and attempt to ride your horse home afterwards.
Have a great Burns night!