Born in Scotland, but beloved the world round, Robert Burns’ life and poetry is celebrated on January 25, the day of his birth. We here at Just Wine thought we’d take a less traditional approach to his birthday celebrations, which are usually celebrated by drinking scotch and do it in a more familiar way to us – by drinking wine!

Burns Supper
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Traditionally, a supper is served in honour of Robert Burns, also known as the Bard of Ayrshire. The first of these memorial “Burns Suppers” was held by his friends on July 21, 1801, at Burns’ cottage on the fifth anniversary of his death. An evening of either formal or informal enjoyment, it includes a meal of traditional Scottish fare, recitation of Burns’ poetry, dancing, and lots of scotch. The focal point of dinner is usually haggis served with tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips) and dessert is often cranachan, a dish of whipped cream, whisky, honey and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal soaked overnight in a little bit of whisky or Tipsy Laird (whisky trifle). All is washed down with a good tipple of “uisge beatha” – Scotch whisky, the water of life.

Now, its not that the JustWine team doesn’t enjoy a wee dram of Scotland’s finest, we just like to go out on a limb from time to time and get crazy with our wine pairings.


What is Haggis?

For those who are unaware, haggis is one of Scotland’s most notable dishes. It is a savoury “pudding” containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs), mixed with spices, seasonings, and oatmeal and encased in sheep’s stomach. It is a rich dish, with a nutty texture and lots of flavour.


Traditional Scottish Haggis Recipe


Traditional Haggis
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Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown


Ingredients For Scottish Haggis Recipe

1 sheep stomach
1 sheep liver
1 sheep heart
1 sheep tongue
1/2 pound suet, minced
3 medium onions, minced
1/2 pound dry oats, toasted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground herbs


How To Make Scottish Haggis

  1. Rinse the stomach thoroughly and soak overnight in cold salted water.
  2. Rinse the liver, heart, and tongue. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook these parts over medium heat for 2 hours. Remove and mince. Remove any gristle or skin and discard.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the minced liver, heart, tongue, suet, onions, and toasted oats. Season with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Moisten with some of the cooking water so the mixture binds. Remove the stomach from the cold salted water and fill 2/3 with the mixture. Sew or tie the stomach closed. Use a turning fork to pierce the stomach several times. This will prevent the haggis from bursting.
  4. In a large pot of boiling water, gently place the filled stomach, being careful not to splash. Cook over high heat for 3 hours.


Wine Pairings For Haggis

So what wine should you pair with your haggis? Start with a red. Something big and full-bodied, with good acidity and visible fruitiness.

Some excellent choices are Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, as they both hold up well to the gamey-ness of the haggis. A fruity Zinfandel is another good red that pairs well with the rich flavours.

Cabernet Franc also holds up well with its acidity and berry flavours, as does Barbera. A surprising match – icewine! It has good acidity and its sweet fruit flavours complement and balance the strong flavours of the haggis.