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Ask a Somm: What to Drink With St. Patrick's Day Dishes

Welcome to Ask a Somm, a column in which experts from across the country answer questions about wine.

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Though slated to imminently shutter on April 30, sommelier and beverage director Madeleine Thompson is still ensconced at Dallas' iconic Stephan Pyles restaurant, an institution for modern, reimagined Southwestern cuisine for over a decade. Come May, Thompson will transition over to Pyles' next venture, Flora Street Cafe, where she'll score a list of wines somewhat similar to current offerings, which highlight small producers from around the world. But at Flora, bottles will dive deeper into the sustainable/organic space, locally sourced and beyond. Below, Thompson considers St.Patrick's Day staples, and wines to match.

Q: Could you recommend some wines that pair with traditional St.Patrick's Day dishes like Irish soda bread and corned beef and cabbage?

Thompson: Whenever in doubt, I always turn to sparkling wines or rosé. In this case, I'd go with Ca' del Bosco's Cuvée Prestige ($56), hitting both the sparkling and rosé categories. Ca’del Bosco is a leading producer in Franciacorta in Northern Italy, making traditional method sparkling wines that never fail to impress me. I have to admit, I'm a bit obsessed with this producer, and if you can get your hands on their Cuvée Annamaria Clementi Rosé ($120), I'd absolutely splurge on a bottle. As for the Cuvée Prestige, the bright acidity coupled with the weight and body of this wine will lend itself well to the dish. I love pairing something bright, crisp, and refreshing as a contrast to the savory beef and cabbage, and who doesn't love bubbly?

I love pairing something bright, crisp, and refreshing as a contrast to the savory beef and cabbage, and who doesn't love bubbly?

For a non-sparkling rosé option, Yannick Rousseau's 2014 Rosé of Tannat ($18) from Russian River Valley in California is simply phenomenal. I just can't say no to a glass of this wine. It has enough fruit to counter-balance the earthier notes in corned beer and cabbage, and enough structure to stand up to the intense flavors. The refreshing notes of blood orange and juicy melon are sure to get you excited about tannat.

With the unseasonably warm weather that (at least here in Texas) we've been having, I'm tempted to add a white wine to the lineup. Perhaps a wine from Alsace, France like Marcel Deiss' 2011 Riesling ($28). The silky texture and rich finish would make a great counterpart to the cabbage and soda bread. There's just enough weight to this wine to stand up to the corned beef as well.

If you're not in the mood for bubbles, I'd suggest another of my favorite pairing wines, gamay. Beaujolais is the most famous region for gamay, but there are some hidden gems in the Loire Valley, known as the Garden of France, as well. Domaine Sérol’s 2014 Eclat de Granite ($14) from the Côte Roannaise is a fantastic example. This wine’s mineral, meaty, spicy style matches the rustic quality of traditional Irish fare. If you haven’t had serious gamay before, this will knock your socks off, definitely a departure from the Beaujolais Nouveau style with which most people are familiar.

Another option, also in Loire Valley, would be Domaine de la Noblaie's 2013 Les Chiens-Chiens Cabernet Franc ($28) from Chinon. This is a more elegant expression of cabernet franc compared to many of the Chinons I’ve tasted recently. It has a gorgeous floral bouquet, expressive dark fruit, and velvety tannin. I’d definitely suggest this wine as a great way to start exploring Loire Valley cabernet franc.

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Stephan Pyles

1807 Ross Avenue, Dallas, TX 75201 214 580 7000 Visit Website