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Burns Night: Wines to pair with haggis

Will you be piping in the haggis on 25 January? Scotch whisky is the traditional choice, but plenty of delicious wines can also work well with this meaty, herby and peppery delicacy. Find some Burns Night supper inspiration in this archive article, updated with new wine reviews by Decanter experts.

Pairing wines with haggis: Five styles to try

  • Syrah / Shiraz
  • Shiraz-Grenache blends
  • Viognier
  • Beaujolais Cru (Gamay) 
  • German Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)

There are a few different avenues for pairing 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 on a weekday evening, but there are plenty of styles to explore.

Pairing red wine with haggis

‘I’m always surprised at how peppery haggis is – not spicy, but peppery,’ said Tina Gellie, Decanter Content Editor, who offered her advice ahead of Burns Night.

‘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 the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

‘Maybe a cru Beaujolais, a Carignan or a Shiraz-Grenache blend,’ she said. A South American Syrah could similarly fit the bill.

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.

German Spätburgunder (Pinot noir) with vegetarian haggis

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.

Pairing white wines with haggis

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.

Alternatively, experimenting with lesser-known styles, and trying out different combinations, is all part of the fun when it comes to wine and food pairing.

This Portuguese white wine made from Encruzado, Bical and Cercial grapes recently featured in the value category of Decanter’s Wines of the Year 2023.

An expert panel described it as a ‘great food wine’, combining orchard fruit with a savoury character, oxidative edge and searing acidity.

See more recent wine reviews by Decanter experts below. If you’re planning to stick to spirits, however, here is our guide to 10 of the best Scotch whiskies to try on Burns Night.

This article has been republished from Decanter’s archive, with updated links and new wine reviews added in January 2024. 

Wines to drink with haggis: Recent reviews by our experts

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