St. Patrick’s Day is known as a free-drinking, Guinness & Irish Whiskey-raising, corned beef-and-cabbage-eating type of holiday. However, what if you’re more a wine lover than a beer lover? There are still plenty of St. Patrick’s Day drinks for you. I mean, any winemaker will tell you that wine lovers are the best beer drinkers because it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine. So, let the shenanigans begin. Herewith, our St. Patrick’s Day Survival Guide for Wine Lovers!
Gettin’ on the Green
You’ll certainly want to put on something green, so dig around in your closet for something spring-like to slip on. Head out to your local wine shop and ask for a bottle of wine from the Green Valley of Russian River Valley AVA. This is a primo appellation in the south-western area of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, California. The two primary grapes grown here are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay is my pick for this holiday – apple aromas mixed with citrus blossoms and just a warm touch of oak. No accident about the apple-ish aromas as this is also Gravenstein Apple orchard land. Favorites are Dutton Estate (fancy) or DeLoach (comfortable).
Sauvignon Blanc is known for its green, grassy notes and refreshing, crisp finish. If you like a more jalapeno green aroma, go for New Zealand producers, like Brancott or Oyster Bay, or if you’re near a Costco, opt for Kim Crawford. For more grassy-ness, give Napa versions such as Silver Trident (order online) a swirl for a French-style aroma and taste that tends to ripe stone fruits, citrus, and freshly mown grass.
But Wait, I’m a Red Wine Kind of Person
We’ve a tipple for you too! There are a few red grape varieties that sport a “green” note, particularly Cabernet Franc. Why not don your St. Paddy’s Day mask and walk into a pub (given that any are open) and ask for a glass of Cabernet Franc… poured into a beer mug as a nod to the holiday? Bartenders are there to oblige, so while you may get an eyebrow, you will get served. Okay, so nothing’s open yet – I got excited and was just reminiscing. Pick up a bottle of Cab Franc from your local wine shop and help them survive. I favor the Hunt Cellars (no relation, dang it) version from Paso Robles or Monte Xanic, from the Guadalupe Valley, Baja.
Sprinkling Leprechaun Champagne Sparkle
“Green” Champagne is also an option (by “green,” we mean biodynamic) in lieu of traditional St. Patrick’s Day Drinks. Here’re a few to fizz around with on St. Patrick’s Day: The grandaddy is Jean-Pierre Fleury, who started the biodynamic movement in Champagne production in 1989. Others have dabbled, notably Leclerc-Briant and Louis Roederer, who holds the largest amount of land under biodynamic vine.
Finding your Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow
The pot of “gold” can be symbolized by the drinking of Sauternes from France, a golden-hued elixir that delivers to your mouth a lush blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Here’s a good story — and the Irish are famous for good stories — It’s said that Saint Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity to pagans as he worked to convert them to Christianity. The shamrock was traditionally worn on a hat or coat lapel to indicate one had been converted, and on the day devoted to St. Paddy, the shamrock would be removed and dunked into the glass of the last drink of the night and “drowned as it was downed” for good luck. Look for Chateau Cantegril or Chateau Miselle for affordable, yet luxe dunks. No better way to bliss out with a toast at the end of this special golden-green day!
I Can’t Make up my mind if I want Wine, Whisky or Beer
You’ve come to the right paragraph! Here’s one that combines a traditional Irish beer, Guinness Stout, with Prosecco. Oh yeah, you read that right. In thumbing through one of my dad’s cocktail books, I came across this most unlikely concoction. I’ve taken the liberty to wine-it-up a bit. So, as a nod to my dad, Martin Hunt’s heritage, and half of mine, I present:
Black Velvet (if you please)
3 oz. Guinness stout, chilled (this has a rich, malty, chocolatey flavor)
3 oz. Sparkling wine, chilled (Prosecco or Cava or other).
A sprig of Thyme or Mint
Fancy glass (i.e. flute, tall/slender glass, anything pretty — we are, after all, having Black Velvet).
Fill your glass about half – 2/3 full with the Guinness, tilting your glass to control the frothy head. Pour sparkling wine over the back of a spoon, into the glass to fill (dip the tip of the spoon into the Guinness). Garnish with a sprig of thyme or mint (for the Green)
Emerald Isle Martini
Maybe beer and whiskey aren’t even your thing. As you can see, there is no lack of options for celebratory alternatives — including this emerald gem, geared towards those more inclined to gin martinis instead of whiskey shots and stouts for St. Patrick’s Day Drinks. Made with three simple ingredients, these Emerald Isle Martinis are easy to shake up for one or to batch out for several drinks.
1 ½ oz Gin
1 teaspoon of Creme de Menthe (preferably green)
2 or 3 dashes of Angustorra Bitters
This green beauty could hardly be easier to bring together. Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, and strain into a martini or coupe glass. Garnish with mint or shamrocks.
Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee
Finally, it never hurts to brew yourself a classic Irish coffee, one of the most comforting Irish drinks. And there’s no better Irish Coffee than the one served at the Dead Rabbit bar in NYC. The bar claims to “offer the best of both worlds. Ireland and everywhere else.” It’s a simple drink, so there’s no need to cut corners. Use the highest quality coffee, whiskey, and demerara sugar you can find. While this particular Irish coffee tastes comforting and unassuming, it might be a good idea to start drinking them earlier in the day so you aren’t vibrating through the night. Once you’ve had one, you’ll immediately want another.
1 ½ oz Irish whiskey, the best you can lay your hands-on
4 oz Freshly brewed hot coffee
½ oz Demerara syrup
Softly whipped cream
Whole zested nutmeg
Start making a simple syrup with a 1:1 ratio of demerara sugar to water. Then brew a smooth and rich batch of your favorite coffee. While it’s brewing, gently whip cream (yes, with a whisk) to very soft peaks until it begins to thicken up and holds the whisk marks for a second or two. Pour the whiskey, coffee, and syrup into a clear or decorative mug and stir. Float a finger-width of cream on top of the coffee, and finish with a zest or two of fresh nutmeg.
Feel free to excuse yourself, unannounced, whenever you’re ready. Sláinte!
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Contributor: Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier/AIS; Vice President National Association of Wine Retailers; International Wine Judge, Author, Spokesperson, and Educator. As a television and video producer/spokesperson, she is the winner of several national and international broadcasting awards. When she’s not wearing her other hat as a partner of a digital media company for the music, corporate, and healthcare industries, her passion is hosting in-person and zoom wine events.