Ideas for pairing wines with haggis on Burns Night:
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Shiraz-Grenache blends
- Beaujolais Cru (Gamay)
- German Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)
- Chilean País
There are a few different avenues to explore if you’re looking to pair wines with haggis, which sees its star quality celebrated at Burns Night supper with the traditional reading of Robert Burns’ poem, ‘Address to a Haggis’.
Made well, and from a quality source, haggis offers a rich combination of meaty flavours with peppery and herby characters, as well as bit of spice. If you’re unsure, why not ask your local butcher for advice?
Vegetarian haggis also exists; haggis maker Macsween of Edinburgh celebrated Burns Night 2020 by shipping vegetarian haggis to the US – its first export to the country in 50 years.
Food safety officials in the US prohibited haggis imports in 1971, citing the traditional inclusion of sheep’s lung.
Scotch whisky and Burns Night go hand-in-hand, but Robert Burns did write about drinking a ‘pint o’ wine’ in his song ‘The Gowden Locks of Anna’.
A pint is perhaps pushing it, especially for a Wednesday evening, but there are plenty of styles to explore.
‘I’m always surprised at how peppery haggis is – not spicy, but peppery,’ said Tina Gellie, Decanter content manager, who offered her advice ahead of Burns Night 2018.
‘And of course it is also dense, rich and meaty. As most people do on Burns Night, I have always paired my haggis, neeps and tatties with whisk(e)y, but if I were to choose a wine, I’d probably go for a juicy, fruit-driven red, where the tannins wouldn’t compete too much,’ said Gellie, who is also regional editor for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
‘Maybe a cru Beaujolais, a fashionable Chilean País or Carignan or a Shiraz-Grenache blend,’ she said.
Fruit-driven red wines with good acidity are likely to be a better bet than bottles with heavily pronounced tannins or oak, which could overpower the flavours of the dish.
Natalie Earl, Decanter regional editor for France (excl. Bordeaux and Burgundy), said she would enjoy vegetarian haggis with a German Spätburgunder.
‘Both have an earthy, savoury character, and the Spätburgunder is light enough not to make the whole combination too rich,’ she said.
If you’re looking for white wines to pair with haggis, refreshing acidity can still help to lift the dish but think about a trying a style with enough richness to stand up to the flavours. Options could include riper styles of Viognier, as well as Chardonnays with a touch of oak or creamy texture from malolactic fermentation.
If you’re planning to stick to spirits, here is our guide to Scotch whisky for Burns Night.