The Bard, Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s most prolific poets was born in Alloway on January 25th 1759. He wrote nearly 560 poems, songs and other political and civil pieces of literature (that we know of!) and in doing so cemented himself in the Scottish hall of fame – warranting his own celebration on the anniversary of his birth.
We’ve put together a small guide to how to host the perfect Burns’ Night Supper, and which wines you should be drinking with it, so you can tak’ a cup o’ kindness and raise a glass to the Bard!
Here’s a bottle and an honest friend
What wud’ ye’ wish for mair’, man? – A bottle and Friend, 1787
For Starters – Cock-a-Leekie Soup
A traditional starter for Burns’ Night - dating back to the 16th Century. It’s a wholesome and celebratory dish, and here’s how to make it!
Ingredients (serves 4, adapted from The Spruce Eats)
1.25kg/1 whole chicken
12 medium-sized leeks (well-washed and chopped to 1-inch lengths)
3 to 4 medium-sized carrots (peeled and roughly chopped)
Salt (to taste)
White pepper (crushed, to taste)
Garnish: Prunes (optional!)
Steps to Make It
- Put the chicken and half of the chopped leeks in a large stockpot or pan and fill with cold water until the chicken is covered.
- Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the chicken is falling off the bone. The amount of time needed depends on the size of the chicken.
- Take the pan off the heat and remove the chicken. Place the bird on a dish or large plate and let it rest, covered in tin foil, until it is cool.
- Strain the broth (if necessary) into a clean pan large enough to hold the remaining ingredients.
- Add the barley to the stock and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add the chopped carrots and the rest of the chopped leeks. Continue cooking until the carrots are beginning to soften.
- Taste for the strength of flavour in the broth and, if necessary, reduce the liquid even further to enhance the flavour until it has reached your desired taste.
- Once it’s reached perfection, season with the salt and pepper to taste.
- Chop some of the reserved chicken into pieces, place it into hot bowls, and pour over the broth and vegetables. The soup is traditionally served with big chunks of vegetables and chicken. If using, add the prunes on top of each bowl.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
The pepperiness in this soup along with the root vegetables can make this a hard dish to pair with wine, however we think we’ve got the perfect match. A lightly oaked new world Chardonnay has got enough weight and body behind it to stand up to the peppery spice. We love the Montes Alpha Chardonnay with this dish. If you prefer a red – go for something a little bit lighter, like the Cloud Factory Pinot Noir. The root veg need something a little fruitier to balance out the earthiness – so New Zealand reds work really well with this dish.
Main course – Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties!
Potatoes, none of you will be surprised to hear, go well with pretty much any wine you have, no matter how they are finished. It’s the neeps and tatties that are the tricky components in this dish! Whether you’re going for veggie or traditional haggis, we’ve found some wines that will fit the bill!
Syrah – Whether it’s from the new world or the old world we think that Syrah is an amazing pairing with Haggis. The flavour in Haggis isn’t necessarily spice but pepper, and Syrah contains high levels of a chemical called rotundone, which is the main component of peppercorns, and which is what gives wine a peppery taste. We’re loving this Rhone blend from the Languedoc – Pas d’Histoires Rouge, as it has a good acidity which will also cut through any fattiness in the Haggis
If you’re a white wine fan – we’d suggest a new world Viognier. Viogniers are assertive, herbaceous and oily, so they can cut through the pepperiness and fattiness in the Haggis as well. Juicy and fruit-driven, we think that Yalumba Organic Viognier fits the bill as the perfect Haggis match.
Yer puddin’ – Cranachan
Sometimes know as “crowdie” when the cheese is used instead of double cream, this is a well-known and well-loved finisher for any Burns’ supper. Here’s how to make it!
Ingredients (serves 6, adapted from The Spruce Eats)
55g porridge oats
250g fresh raspberries (Scottish if possible)
1 pint of double cream OR 100g Crowdie
3 tablespoon malt whisky (psst – we also sell over 80 whiskies in store)
Optional: 1 tablespoon honey Scottish honey (plus more, to serve)
Steps to Make It
- Toast the oats in a pan until they have a light, nutty smell and are only just beginning to change color. Do not leave the oats unattended. Once toasted, remove immediately from the pan.
- Keeping a handful of the raspberries to one side, mash the remainder with a fork or spoon. This isn’t an exact science, we’re not making jam, so some little lumps and unmashed berries are allowed.
- In a large bowl, whisk the cream/crowdie and whisky to form firm peaks. Take care not to over whip.
- Finally, fold in the honey (if using), followed by the toasted oatmeal.
- In either a large glass trifle bowl or into individual serving glasses, layer the dessert. You can start with a layer of the cream or raspberries; it is up to you. Always finish with a layer of the cream and oatmeal. If you wish you can even sprinkle a little oatmeal on the top for decoration.
- To serve the Cranachan, drizzle over a little extra honey (optional) and if you fancy, a piece or two of Scottish Shortbread.
- Serve and enjoy!
Sweet things are often hard to pair, as they strip our tongue of taste receptors and can make wine seem bitter, so when pairing sweet things, always go sweeter! Remember – the food will change the taste of the wine, but the wine will not change the taste of the food. We’ve gone for a sweet Botrytis Semillon to finish off your Burns’ Supper, made by Peter Lehmann. This wine has orange and lime notes through it which will complement the raspberries beautifully, and the weight of the wine matches the weight of the dish.
As always, finish your Burns’ Supper with a dram, remembering that Freedom and Whisky gang thegither, and that you can buy a variety of whiskies in store from us!