In case you’ve been living under a rock, or even just not visited the internet, it is Saint Patrick’s Day. On a day where everyone seemingly has a long-lost Irish relative/friend/gerbil and so therefore is connected intrinsically to the Guinness-fuelled celebrations, it’s easy to forget that this is a day with deep historical and cultural roots, celebrating a complex hybrid of Christianity in Ireland and Irish national identity. 17th March falls within the Christian Lenten calendar, but as restrictions on eating and drinking are lifted for the day, it is unsurprising that food and drink are a central part of celebrations. Within the humble Irish stew, we find much connected with this celebration of national identity. Formed of a combination of meat and root vegetables native to Ireland, it origins are traceable to the arrival of the Celts and their culinary stewing technique into Ireland over two thousand years ago. Purists claim that the stew is inherently simple, formed of just mutton neck, potatoes, onions and water cooked over a low heat for many hours; however just as national identities mature and evolve over time, so has the recipe. Carrots, turnips and various herbs are now also included in many versions and lamb (sometimes even beef) has largely replaced mutton, traditionally used because of the economic importance of the wool and milk from young sheep.
So what to drink with this fine piece of culinary history? Traditionally, perhaps a local ale – but what if you don’t like beer? Well, that’s where food’s faithful partner wine comes in. Lamb’s traditional partner is Rioja, and given the richness imparted by the slow-cooking, we recommend a mature Rioja such as our Bodegas Perica Olagosa Gran Reserva 2001. Equally, a good, juicy red Bordeaux always mingles nicely with rich, meat dishes. Sláinte!