March has a lot going for it: we’re finally out of winter (current Arctic weather notwithstanding), buds are blossoming, Mother’s Day is on Sunday 15th March and Patrick’s Day is, of course a couple of days later on Tuesday 17th. And, dare we say it, there’s a grand stretch in the evening too.
Taking Mother’s Day as a point of reference, below are a few wine suggestions with which to share with the best Mammy in the world. Quite a lot of my Valentine’s Day wine recommendations www.thetaste.ie/wp/wines-valentines-day-motley-cru would be quite relevant here too I think, but below are some that are more affordable, unfussy and easy to drink – ideal, in other words, when chat and a catch-up prevail over sniffing and sipping.
There are also a couple of Irish drink suggestions for the day that the whole world wears the green. And yes, one of them is whiskey.
Black Tower Pink Bubbly
€10.99 from supermarkets nationwide
Perhaps the most easy-going sparkler I’ve come across: pink, fizzy and a touch sweet (thought not sickly sweet), this is good value, comes in a screw-cap and is only 9.5% alcohol. Simple. So crack it open and get the chat going.
Bissinger & Co. Champagne Premium Cuvée
€29.99 from Lidl
Though €30 might sound like a lot for bubbles – especially when you can easily find discounted Prosecco for under €10 nowadays – what needs to be acknowledged here is that Champagne really only gets going at €30, and even then you’re often scraping the barrel in terms of quality.
Not with this Champagne from Lidl, though. It’s hard not to call it a “baby Bollinger”, given the rich grilled nuts aromas and the equally rich and creamy, brioche-tinged palate. Granted, it may lack the finesse of the big name Champagnes, but at €30 this is a steal.
Torres Viña Esmeralda
€13.99 from O’Brien’s Wines and other good independent off-licence
For some reason this wine always reminds me of Mother’s Day, perhaps because it’s an easy drinker with breezy floral flavours and an approachable, off-dry palate, an ideal yet unobtrusive accompaniment to an evening.
Unusually for Spain, it’s made from Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer, two white grapes that are more at home in somewhat cooler climates. Oh, and its name is taken from the emerald colour of the Mediterranean. So now you know.
Marqués de Riscal Rueda
€13.49 from SuperValu, Centra, O’Brien’s, and other food independent off-licences
Marqués de Riscal are more known for their red Rioja wines, but this white from the Spanish region called Rueda is a fantastic alternative option for lovers of Sauvignon Blanc.
It has lots of lovely aromatics on the nose and a lively palate, which would be great with some seafood. It’s summer in a glass – even if it’s snowing outside.
Simone Joseph ‘Les Vignes Paralleles’ Côtes du Rhône
€13.45 from TheWineStore.ie
Don’t be put off by the long French name – this is not a wine chosen to look good, but instead selected for its great value for money. Lush and soft, it can be enjoyed by its own or with some meaty food. A great example of quality wine at an excellent price.
Andean Vineyards Malbec
€12.99 in good independent off-licences such as Fresh Supermarkets, Dublin; McHugh’s, Dublin; Amber Fermoy, Cork; No. 21 Off-Licence, Cork city; and others
Cheaper Malbecs can often be tight, tannic and aggressive affairs, but not this one. Smooth and silky, it’s great value for money and perfect accompaniment when curling up by the fire. Great if you’re looking for something more substantial but still balanced.
Paddy’s Day Tipples
Tullamore D.E.W. Original
€29.99 from The Celtic Whiskey Shop, Mitchell & Sons, O’Brien’s, and other good independent off-licences
I doubt many people know it, but Tullamore D.E.W. is the second biggest-selling Irish whiskey in the world, with the behemoth that is Jameson out in front. They’re doing their best to catch up, though, with a snazzy re-branding campaign a few years ago, an evocative (if twee) ad campaigns and the opening last September of a brand-spanking-new distillery on the outskirts of their home town.
Tullamore D.E.W. Original was the first blended Irish whiskey and has a citrus, orange peel nose followed by a light spice and bruised apples. No better way to toast our national day. glasses up!
Dungarvan Black Rock Irish Stout
€3.49 from O’Brien’s and other good craft beer retailers
I tried this for the first time years ago, before the current explosion of Irish craft beers, and chose it because it’s brewed in Dungarvan, a town I’ve holidayed in ever summer since I was five. But despite the emotional connection I still believe this to be one of the best independent Irish stouts available: full, rich and chocolatey with a distinct coffee note, it’s easy-going yet deep and complex. But whether you choose this or another Irish beer, be sure to keep it local this St. Patrick’s Day!
Richie Magnier blogs under the pseudonym The Motley Cru at www.themotleycru.com and @motleycruwine on Twitter. He has been involved in the Irish wine industry for over six years and holds a WSET Advanced Level 3 Certificate.