St. Patrick’s Day is upon us! The patron saint of Ireland and his feast day are unsurprisingly associated in most people’s minds with Irish heritage, shamrocks, the color green, green-stained rivers, tall glasses of green beer, and well, college kids or Expats wearing silly hats and getting embarrassingly inebriated in pubs around the world.
But there is an Italian connection to this Irish day! Below are three Italian associations and their appropriate wines for St. Patrick’s Day:
1. Though there is no denying the inherently Irish cultural association with St. Patrick, Patrick’s saintly status with the Catholic church is reason number one why he shares a very real connection to Italy. St. Patrick’s Day has been an official feast day in the Catholic church since the 17th century. The story of the saint speaks of his becoming a Christian priest and spending the end of his life converting the then pagan Irish to Christianity. There are in fact Christian origins to the many symbols (=the color green, shamrocks, etc) associated with Patrick and his feast day.
St. Patrick Day wine suggestion= Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio. Literally the “tears of Christ”, this red or white wine from the Campania region seems an appropriately religiously themed wine for the occasion. Both wines are blends of local grape varieties (=Greco, Coda di Volpe, Piedirosso, Aglianico).
2. The Ides of March. St. Patrick’s feast day is pretty close to the Ides of March (~March 15th), an important period of pagan religious celebrations in the Ancient Roman calendar as well as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C in Rome. March was the first month of the year at the time, which meant it was a period full of feasts and celebrations involving copious amounts of drinking. What’s more, the Ides was specifically dedicated to the supreme deity Jupiter, when a high priest led a sheep to be sacrificed to the god. Though St. Patrick isn’t associated with sacrificing sheep, he is associated with sheep for his time spent being a shepherd.
St. Patrick’s Day wine suggestion= Roma Rosso DOC, San Marco. This red wine from Rome’s region of Lazio is a delicious blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese. Plus it’s got a statue of Julius himself on the label…just perfect for the occasion, albeit a bit morbid.
3. The well of St. Patrick (Il pozzo di San Patrizio) in Orvieto, Umbria. During the sacking of Rome in the 16th century, Pope Clement VII had fled and taken residence in nearish Orvieto. Soon after he ordered the construction of a massive well which when completed in 1537 reached a depth of 53 meters (about 174 feet). One legend of St. Patrick talks about Jesus appearing to him in Ireland and showing him either a deep cave or well which was said to be the entrance to Purgatory. St. Patrick’s Well in Orvieto then was so-named by predecessor Pope Paul III because its incredible depth suggested a connection all the way to the same Purgatory legends suggest St. Patrick once saw.
St. Patrick’s Day wine suggestion= Orvieto Classico DOC. This white wine from the area of Orvieto couldn’t be more appropriate. Typically a blend of grapes such as Grechetto, Trebbiano (aka Procanico in this region), and Malvasia, it’s a bright wine full of citrus, apple, springtime blossoms, and almonds.