On Burns Night it is traditional to have a 'wee dram' to drink with your Haggis. I am serving Haggis to some Scottish friends, and as it is not Burns Night I feel that I can forgo the traditions of whiskey with Haggis and serve another spirit/wine. What would be a good alcohol pairing for Haggis?
Personally, I have never had haggis, but pairing it with wine is not all that uncommon. Some even pair it with beer as can be seen here, but I would go with a sweet fruity red wine. Pairing wine with haggis is very common on the web.
Here is a sample of how people wine with haggis:
A dram of whisky works better after the meal, as its sheer strength means it doesn’t go with the food, so which wine to open first? Red, of course, and something with enough richness to take on haggis, which is sheep’s (occasionally pig’s) “pluck” – the heart, liver and lights (lungs) – mixed with oatmeal, spices and seasoning.
If you’re still with me (Susy Atkins) and up for it, a bold European red with a little savouriness and black pepper is by far the best.
Spanish tempranillo, aged in oak casks, and tasting of ripe red berries, wood spice and vanilla, is my favourite match. - Why I'll be drinking red wine - not whisky - with my haggis
Here is another:
Haggis is quite a funky-tasting meat - a bit like a savoury, spicy sausage - so I think red wine is a better match than white. I’ve found big jammy reds such as Australian shiraz work well (there is appropriately enough one called Bobbie Burns shiraz (available for about £15-£16 from independents including Alexander Hadleigh and Old Butcher's Wine Cellar.
Northern Rhône syrah and grenache/syrah/mourvèdre (GSM) blends from the southern Rhône, the Languedoc and Australia are also good matches, especially if they have a year or two’s bottle age. - The best wines to pair with haggis
Wine pairing with haggis – grape growing and winemaking techniques
Grapes grown in hotter climates often have riper fruit which add to flavour intensity and texture of the wine; but also the sugar levels in the grapes are generally much higher adding further mouthfeel, so a sign is to look for wines that have perhaps 13.5% or above alcohol by volume.
Oak fermentation and/or oak ageing adds flavour and texture too, so clues are sometimes on the label; be aware ‘oaked’ is not generally a style that adds texture, look for the word ‘aged’ to ensure it has seen the inside of an oak cask. This week on our WSET Level 2 Wine Course we had an outstanding Puligny-Montrachet and also a equally impressive Chateauneuf-du-Pape, both would have successfully met the haggis-pairing challenge. Burns Night – wine pairing with haggis
All said and done: Enjoy!
I think haggis calls for a whisky barrel-aged porter, an Irish stout, or a peated malt ale, preferably in vast quantities so that you:
- don't know what you're eating,
- don't eat because you're too drunk.
I don't know much about wine, but you can't go wrong with a beer.
- Wee Heavy: This style of beer is Scottish through and through. It's malty and slightly sweet, with a high alcohol content that will keep things more fun.
- Schwarzbier: The Germans have been drinking beer with their sausage for centuries. Any German beer should do, but Schwarzbier balances flavour with easy-drinking quality.
I have tried this with a nice Reposado, and it works well. But you are much better off with a nice whisky.
Or any other drink - it doesn't really matter. If you have a nice haggis the drink is irrelevant.
(disclaimer - I am Scottish)
As a fan of haggis and single-malt Scotch, and host of many a Rabbie Burns night, I'd say you have several good alternatives.
Most of the Burns nights I've attended offered malty, full-bodied beers along with the haggis. Scottish ales, porters, wee heavies, and oatmeal stouts are some of the favorites.
If there are wines, I'd recommend hearty reds, like a good Zinfandel.
Keep in mind that not all haggis is created equal. Just as no two Texans have the same family recipe for chili, no two Scots will make haggis the same. I've had haggis all over Scotland and quite a few places in the U.S., and each one is different. If you're getting it from a butcher that regularly makes haggis, ask for a taste in advance so you can ponder what to pair with it.
NOTE: Haggis in a can is an abomination. Don't do it! Get fresh-made haggis from a proper butcher shop.
Having had (and enjoyed) Haggis many times, and I think it being closer to a red meat than a white meat, I'd say you'd want to pair it with alcohol that is typically served with red meat. Full bodied, medium to dry red wines, or darker bitter ales.
I'm not usually one to go 'by the book' with my pairings, but knowing what I know about the flavour and texture of haggis I think red wine or dark beer would be the way to go.