As an Englishman, St. Patrick’s Day normally passes me by but last Tuesday my brother in law, a second generation Irishman who works around the world for UNICEF, turned up, unexpectedly, on my doorstep and insisted, with heavy irony but with serious intent, that we had a ‘craic.’ How could I refuse? After all, I’d not seen him for a few months and who was I to deny a man a sacred celebration of his patron saint?
Normally, we’d have nipped down to the local pub but my wife was out and I was looking after the kids. So, after discharging my parental duties, I cracked open a bottle of wine and left my brother in law, Paul, in charge of the music. Spotting the wine – Naked on Roller Skates Shiraz – was produced by, intriguingly named, Aussie winemakers, Some Young Punks, and keen to keep things Celtic, Paul immediately put on punk classic, Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, and turned it up loud. Half a bottle later, we decided that we really ought to match more classic Irish songs to wine. And so we did.
Before continuing, I should as a responsible wine merchant, point out that we didn’t actually polish off all of the wines we opened during our impromptu song and sampling session. Lots of wine was saved for customers to taste over the following couple of days – honestly!
Anyway, disclaimer provided, let’s get back to the music and wine. Despite failing to make a dent in the UK charts, The Rocker by Thin Lizzy is a primal rock n roll classic that states, over a dirty riff, its dishonourable intentions right from the off, “I am your main man if you’re looking for trouble, I’ll take no lip ’cause no one’s tougher than me, If I kicked your face you’d soon be seeing double.” To be frank, pairing it with the aptly named, fully fruited and forceful Californian red wine, The Troublemaker, was almost too easy.
Next on the turntable, was Dance Stance, the first single, back in 1979, from Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Over a blistering brass beat, second generation Irish singer, Kevin Rowland, delivers an impassioned and angry vocal rebuke to all those who peddle the myth of the ‘thick paddy’ by reeling off a list of celebrated Irish playwrights and authors. Whilst listening and – I’ll confess – supplementing the brass section with a little ‘air trombone,’ Paul and I drank The Pugilist from South Australia, a strident, darkly fruited wine with underlying herbal notes that’s perfectly in tune with the forceful dynamism of the Dexy’s delivery.
Later in the evening, as the tempo slowed, we refreshed our jaded palates with lots of water and I put on my favourite song by Irish music legend, Van Morrison. And It Stoned Me is a deeply sensual and graceful tale of young boys out for a day’s freedom in the Irish countryside. In the song, inspired by a quasi-mystical experience he had as a child, Morrison is enveloped by subtle, gentle rock n roll as he sings of the boys standing in the rain their eyes and mouths open, heads bent back, “Oh, the water, let it run all over me…..”
Without wanting to appear facetious about such a beautiful song, Paul and I, unlike the song’s much younger subjects, were never, at this stage, going to find sensory satisfaction in water alone. So, it was just as well that we also had the Celtic inspired Cup and Rings Albarino to drink as we listened to Van the Man’s masterpiece again and again. It’s gutsy, soulful flavours perfectly complemented the song and made for a great nightcap.