The Best Wine To Pair With Corned Beef And Cabbage

I picked up more than a few pearly dewdrops of wisdom during my bartending career, and among the most crucial lessons learned are: Never work on St. Patrick's Day, if you can help it, and that people who celebrate the day with corned beef and cabbage take their meal very seriously. Befitting such reverence, a special meal deserves a special drink (not that corned beef is a March exclusive, it rocks all year long). It's worth noting that the ultimate boozy pairing for a plate of corned beef and cabbage is a pint of Guinness. But, for wine lovers, we've got a few recs up our proverbial sleeve.

Despite its reputation as a comfort dish, its complex flavors make corned beef and cabbage a tricky meal for wine pairing. Corned beef is ultra-savory and salty, but it comes with that side dish of naturally sweet cabbage. Still, the main elements at play with this meal are the rich fattiness, salty edge, and light sweetness — and it is from these criteria that we will proceed.

In general, red meat goes with red wine. It's a sommelier adage you've probably heard before, and often it's true. Still, rules were made to be broken, and white wine has its place alongside corned beef. When it comes to pairing wine with corned beef and cabbage, Syrah/Shiraz complements the meal, and Sauvignon Blanc showcases it.

Hurrah for Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah

When folks talk about pairing corned beef with white wine, the first name you typically hear is Riesling. Indeed, a light Riesling could juxtapose the meal's heaviness. Riesling's sweetness would also emphasize the sweet-savory interplay of the corned beef and cabbage. Still...Riesling tends to lean a little too sweet (unless that's your thing, then by all means). Sauvignon Blanc is a dryer, medium-bodied white wine that's still acidic enough to cut through the fat. The crisp, vibrant white brings out the rich, salty flavors of the meal with grassy, herbal notes for a refreshing balance and mature back end. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand ($19.71 via Drizly) would also work especially well here. Cupcake ($15.07) leans a little sweeter, which could be a good mid-point between the Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. 

For red wine fans, Pinot Noir could add welcome earthiness but regard tannin-heavy varieties like this with caution. They have the potential to steer the profile unwelcomingly bitter, amplify the saltiness, and weigh down the already-heavy corned beef. Syrah (aka Shiraz) is a bold, full-bodied red with top notes of smoke, blackberry, and black pepper, a natural complement to corned beef's savory spices. It's dry and opaque, with firm tannins that stand up to the meal without getting lost or competing. 19 Crimes makes a great budget-friendly Shiraz ($12.75), and the Shiraz by Yellowtail is spicy with anise top notes ($6.99), a good option if you crave a little contrast.