What wine pairs with haggis?
Whisky, preferably a robust single malt, though a smoother blended brand will work nicely as well.
Yes, I did read your question correctly. You said "wine." But I feared that, had I not insisted first on Scotch whisky, I'd be run out of town by hordes of dagger-wielding men in kilts or, worse, forced by the same men to sit down to a pound of steaming haggis. (I'm kidding about that last part; I actually enjoy haggis.)
The iconic Scottish delicacy – and I use the term loosely – is a sort of intestinal sack traditionally containing sheep's lungs, heart and liver as well as oatmeal, suet and spices. I'm told that these days many a fine haggis is based largely on ground beef, with the offal content more of a background flavouring. Either way, we're talking hearty, earthy and heavy fare.
Wine-wise, this is no place for wispy Muscadet or fragile pinot noir. Don't try to be too pretentious with your choice. It's time for bold wine with big fruit and high acidity. And let me say that I know whereof I speak. Eight years ago I cooked a two-kilogram haggis at home (just me, no guests) and tried it with a wide variety of wines. Remarkably, I lived to tell the tale.
I found that, as with France's more famous organ-meat delicacy, foie gras, haggis loves sweetness. Icewine is a killer match. But for you I'm going to suggest a few dry choices that work pretty well, too. Namely: shiraz (particularly from Australia or South Africa), zinfandel, cabernet franc, barbera and riesling.
The first two are jammy with fruit, and that's a perfect counterpoint to the funky organ meat. Meanwhile the latter three are usually endowed with zippy acidity, the better to cleanse the palate of all that heavy, fatty tissue. French syrah and Canadian baco noir or foch would be among the many good alternatives.
What I've mostly found, though, is that haggis is a pretty wine-friendly beast. And a two-kilogram haggis serving for one person is a particularly good match for Pepto-Bismol.
The Globe and Mail French River Cruise, a two-week luxury journey through Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Rhône Valley in August 2018, is now sold out. Please visit tgam.ca/cruise to sign up to receive information on our next planned cruise, in 2019.