Burns Night, Red Wine and Haggis

Brian Elliott Brian Elliott
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Burns Night Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

What should you drink on Burns Night? Whisky is the obvious choice, but why not consider a vinous alternative.

While the primary goal of my MidWeek Wines website (recommending entry point offerings) is self-evident, it does have a secondary strand. By also featuring “Friday Treat” and “Sunday Best” options, I provide a staircase to the more complex wines that a little extra money can buy.

With “Villages” and, then, “Cru” wines sitting atop its everyday versions, Beaujolais offers a great example of that staircase. And it was to that region that I turned when seeking a lightish red for my Burns Night recommendation – but more of that later.

Turning the clock back to an early Beaujolais visit, it was sad to see so many abandoned vineyards there. Clearly the onetime “golden goose” was by then eggbound. Pursuing the birdlife analogy, though, the phoenix is now rising from the ashes. 

The region has worked hard to re-invent itself. Young and progressive winemakers have moved in – often bringing organic practices with them – while the titans of old continue to make their exceptional wines. Better still, encouraged by folk like the now retired Guillaume de Castelnau at Château de Jacques, Burgundian techniques and wine styles became increasingly evident. 

Obviously, gamay is not pinot noir and they will never be direct rivals but comparing and contrasting Beaujolais wines with equally priced Burgundies can surprise.

Full marks, then, to Wickhams for recognising the delights of Beaujolais wines and for stocking so many of them.

My Top Beaujolais-Villages Picks

For a benchmark of what classy but well-made “Villages” versions can be, try 2021 Les Pivoines, Beaujolais-Villages.

True to form, its flavours encompass the region’s traditional cherry and raspberry components built into a light and pleasingly soft body.

Here, however, that is overlaid with a savoury background that gives a nod towards the type of earthiness pinot noir can offer.

Les Pivoines, Beaujolais-Villages 2021

Les Pivoines, Beaujolais-Villages 2021


Pivoines translates as "peonies" - which is where this beautiful bottle gets its vibrant and enticing label. Inside the bottle is a juicy, fresh and...… read more

Savouriness also appears in the darker 2020 Domaine de Mont Joly "La Croix Polage" Beaujolais Villages but this is a more robust wine with graphite, rather than earthy, elements.

The flavours here tend more towards loganberry and plum but with floral touches and a slight sweetness to counterbalance those mineral elements. 

Domaine de Mont Joly "La Croix Polage" Beaujolais Villages 2020

Domaine de Mont Joly "La Croix Polage" Beaujolais Villages 2020


From 40-year-old vines, La Croix Polage is a true terroir wine made using 100% Gamay grapes. The colour is ruby red tinged with purple. The...… read more

For my Burns Night option, though, I chose 2019 Château de Belleverne, Beaujolais Villages.
This is a carefully matured rendition of gamay which, to me, has a great deal in common with the Crus Beaujolais wines on the next rung up that complexity ladder.

Soft with just a whiff of the region’s violet influences, it is centred around smooth strawberry flavours embellished with cherry hints and with mild acidity - yet enough of it to cut through any fattiness in the haggis.

Château de Belleverne, Beaujolais Villages 2019

Château de Belleverne, Beaujolais Villages 2019


Château Belleverne's Gamay vines grow on siliceous clay on gentle slopes. Whole bunches, sourced from a single domaine, are put through carbonic maceration - the...… read more

Alternative Burns Night recommendations for (inexpensive) beer, whisky and white wine appear on the MidWeek Wines website – where, of course, a warm welcome awaits you. 

Click here to read Brian's full recommendations.

Remember however that Beaujolais, in all its various forms, is a tasty, great value all-year-round treat – and not just for 25 January.

Brian Elliott is an established wine professional, he founded the website, writes a weekly column for Scotland’s Daily Record and is a judge for the People's Choice Wine Awards and other competitions.

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