Brian Elliott: Great wines for a Burns supper

Scotland on Sunday wine columnist Brian Elliott profiles some great wines to enjoy with your Burns supper.

Published 25th Jan 2016
Updated 25 th Jan 2016

Burns Night is always tricky for food and wine matching and I have yet to find a red that consistently ticks all the boxes. Never fear though, there is a white that usually partners haggis brilliantly - gewürztraminer.

With its iconic perfumed, spice and oriental fruit elements, gewürztraminer is a distinctive grape variety. But it does often suffer from low levels of acidity that tend to impair its balance and longevity.

With skilled winemaking, smart vineyard management and controlled yields, however, its wines go exquisitely with Vietnamese and other oriental food – and, of course, with the spiciness of haggis.

Start, I suggest, with a version from Alsace and one I particularly enjoy is 2013 Clos St Jacques Gewurztraminer (£11.99 at Majestic). Here, the classic perfumed lychee influences are supplemented by sweeter spices and syrup-style depth but, crucially, also by hints of nectarines and citrus zestiness.

For a typically straight forward example from the region, try the floral and off- dry 2013 Baron de Hoen Alsace Gewurztraminer (£10 at M&S). This has attractive touches of mango and candied ginger but its extra notch of residual sugar can be a bit strident with some haggis.

For new world versions, my personal, reasonably priced, favourite is 2014 Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer (£11.90 at from Elgin on the tip of South Africa. It provides the lively prickle of orange based acidity that eludes many examples but then embellishes the wine with soft and complex suggestions of honey, clove and red apple - all wrapped in an attractive mellowness.

In straight matches with haggis, though, the eventual winner came from even further afield. 2011 Little Beauty Gewurztraminer (£16.50 at l'Art du Vin, Charlestown, Dunfermline) from Marlborough in New Zealand is imbued with an excellent combination of roses, spice, texture and honey but enhances it with gentle grapefruit acidity and, best of all for partnership with food, a contrasting mineral backdrop.

Best Buys:


Inveralmond Ossian Golden Ale: 4.1per cent; Often excellent food matches can be found with beer rather than wine – partly because of its bigger range of flavours and consistency. Here, the textured hoppy finish and ginger touches on display work well with the spiciness of the haggis while the pithy citrus components add freshness and contrast. (£1.97 for 500ml bottle at Morrisons)

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Bowmore 15 Years Old “Darkest” Single Malt Whisky: Islay; 43 per cent; Continuing the non-wine theme, here is a great whisky for the Immortal Memory - with long, citrus and heather flavours and treacle based smokiness. To partner it, I would suggest choosing the newly introduced soft, rounded, barley sugar influenced The Famous Grouse Mellow Gold (£22 at Tesco) for the Toast to the Haggis. (£52.87 at

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