One of the most common requests the Tripe Marketing Board receives is “What wine should I drink with my tripe?”  Over the years, the palates of tripe-lovers have become increasingly sophisticated: gone are the days when a glass of Vimto or a can of dandelion and burdock was enough to complete a meal of tripe.

The TMB’s Senior Sommelier, Steph Lunn, has kindly offered up her suggestions below.

 It can be a daunting task to find a wine to pair with tripe, although if you have reached the point where you are contemplating eating tripe, you are undoubtedly up for the task.

Many wines simply won’t work with tripe, so our advice is to source bold wines that actively work against it. That may sound controversial, but we don’t call ourselves Europe’s most radical meat-based marketing board for nothing. There are no flimsy Pinot Grigios or delicate Beaujolais among these recommendations – pairing wine with tripe is for the bold, and it will reward them with a challenging flavour sensation they will never forget.

Of course, if you decide it is something you would rather forget, we recommend drinking some additional wine after the meal.

You may want to also consider drinking quite a lot of wine before you begin.

The TMB’s top ten tips to pairing wine with tripe

  1. Don’t be intimidated by tripe. Yes, its taste, smell, flavour and texture may seem repellent, but that’s the challenge – and you need a wine that is up to the challenge. Think big and bold. Think about confronting the tripe, rather than trying to seduce it.
  2. Most food and wine blogs will advise you to select a wine from the country of origin of the dish you are preparing.  Our advice is to ignore this – tripe’s inherently aggressive character feeds on familiarity and will work to dull the wine’s flavours. Surprise and challenge the tripe by selecting a wine from as far away as possible.
  3. In addition to drinking before and after the preparation of your tripe dish, it’s a good idea to include quite a lot of wine in the recipe, and drink while you are preparing it. ‘One for you, one for me’ is a good rule of thumb when it comes to dispensing the appropriate quantity to the pot and one’s glass.
  4. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time. Or second time. The key to success is ‘tripe, tripe and tripe again’.
  5. Be wary of wines that friends bring to your house – most dinner party guests will not be expecting you to serve tripe (hence their attendance) so they are unlikely to pick a wine that is up to the challenge. Just politely stuff it in your wine rack and serve the wine you have selected yourself.
  6. Your spend per bottle should increase with the complexity of the dish you are cooking, but we suggest a ceiling of around £15 per bottle. A lot of more expensive wines are described as ‘elegant’, ‘sophisticated’ and ‘well-balanced’ and you may find that their flavours are muted next to the somewhat aggressive, rustic and rugged nature of tripe.
  7. Most wine blogs will tell you to ‘ask your friendly wine merchant’ for recommendations. Our advice is to regard them with tremendous suspicion, and keep your tripe matching plans to yourself. The mention of tripe is known to cause some revulsion among wine industry professionals and may cause them to treat you with disdain or make phony recommendations that will ruin your meal.
  8. Develop a ‘tripe nose’ – once you become more experienced with preparing tripe, you’ll become more comfortable with its pungent smell. Once you get past the unpleasantness of its robust aroma, you will start to get a sense of what wine you need to drink to take away the memory of the smell. This can take a while, but some of the most experienced tripe and wine pairers attribute their success to developing a good tripe nose, and many have gone on to become Masters of Tripe/Wine/both.
  9. Make a note of your successful tripe and food combinations in your Tripe Marketing Board 2021 Diary. Or why not share them with the tripe community on Twitter using the hashtag #TripeWithWine?
  10. If you can’t decide on a wine to pair to tripe, it’s a good idea to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and ask yourself ‘What would Sir Norman do?’ – you might have seen people doing this in the wine aisle at the supermarket. Select the first wine that you gravitate towards when you open your eyes. Unless it’s crap, of course, in which case try again, as this technique can take a while to perfect. If you keep landing on crap wines, it is possible you need to shop somewhere a bit less rubbish.

Recommendations for our tripe recipes

These recommendations are based on my humble opinions – please feel free to try new and exciting pairings of your own.

Pesto alla Wiganese

Pesto has a strong flavour that demands respect, and in this recipe it is also grappling with the intensity of the tripe, so any wine that you introduce must be bold enough to walk into a fight scenario and retain its composure. I would be inclined to reach for an oak-aged Chardonnay from Australia. If your first sip is reminiscent of licking a tree trunk, that’s the one you want. The oak provides backbone, and you’re going to need it.

Stewed tripe and onions

The simplicity of this recipe is designed to show off the flavour of tripe rather than trying to disguise it, so that’s where a bold wine pairing steps in. An aggressive Zinfandel will stun the tripe, and its rich tobacco and licorice notes will work to disarm the tripe thus revealing its more delicate side. Of course, it will fight back, and your meal experience will be a challenging duel of competing flavours that you will have to drink a lot to forget.

Vietnamese tripe salad

The sweet, sour and spicy nature of this amazing salad is so inviting it almost doesn’t need tripe – but of course, it does. I would reach for a Gewurztraminer from Alsace to accompany this. This characterful white grape is a great match for spicy food and salad. It is unlikely to work in perfect harmony with the tripe, but at the very least it will approach the tripe with confidence, slap it across the face, and have a raucous affair with it before settling down with the salad to binge watch a box set.

Sir Norman’s Trippa alla Romana

Those that have tried Sir Norman’s comforting recipe often report a warm and fuzzy feeling while eating, and then another one a few hours later after the side effects have subsided. There are two ways you could pair this dish – my first suggestion is to reach for a dark, brooding Malbec from Argentina. This will work to balance out the mood of the meal and ensure you don’t suffer disillusion during that period of existential angst between enjoying the meal and recovering from the side effects. It’s a slightly sombre experience, but a rewarding one nonetheless.

Although the approach detailed above is a good tactical approach, you could also throw caution to the wind and serve this meal with a fine Champagne. The delicate bubbles and ‘toasted brioche’ flavour will cut right through the tripe. Of course, the tripe will fight back – tripe will be tripe. But it will eventually surrender until it feels like the tripe is having a champagne bubble bath in your mouth and Sir Norman was invited, but politely declined on account of his busy schedule.