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Riesling to the top

What's ireland's national dish?

Bacon and cabbage or Irish stew? Maybe, but these days my guess is that they've both been overtaken in popularity by any number of ethnic dishes such as sweet and sour pork or chicken tikka masala. If you're cooking this weekend though and still feeling a wave of national fervour after watching the Paddy's Day parade, I have the perfect grape for you whether you chose to make Irish or ethnic, and it's... Riesling.

Please don't turn the page. I'm not talking about Eau-de-Cologne-and-sugar-flavoured Liebfraumilch, which isn't made from Riesling anyway, but the drier styles from Australia, Austria and Alsace.

Why Riesling? It has a sublime mix of almost contradictory qualities in that it can offer both intensity and lightness. Aromas and flavours are usually based on an initial piercing citrus character and then it should finish with a tingling, crisp, acidic bite that cleanses the palate. As it's almost never oak-aged, it's never heavy.

Those qualities make a magical match with strong-yet-light oriental cuisines and Indian dishes that need intense wines with a cutting edge. As for bacon and cabbage, Riesling is the classic match with most pork dishes as its fruitiness pairs so well with pork and its acidity cuts through fattiness.

Sadly, Riesling is unlikely ever to be Ireland's national white wine. That's probably still Chardonnay with Pinot Grigio catching up fast.

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