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What to drink on St. Patrick's Day

A bartender at Monaghan's Bar and Restaurant n

A bartender at Monaghan's Bar and Restaurant n Rockville Centre pours a Guinness, the ubiquitous Irish beer on Nov. 6, 2010. Credit: Allison Davis O'Keefe

St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day will spark the celebrating next week. Get a head start.

For corned beef on March 17, the choices of beverages are many. A very good, and surprising, one is a fruity Beaujolais. For a white wine, try a riesling, off-dry variety; or a pinot blanc.

Naturally, beer is fine company. Be a traditionalist with either Harp or Guinness. Guinness Black Lager also is a sudsy match. Likewise, Irish ales. Look for Samuel Adams, Smithwick's, and Murphy's. And Irish whiskey fuels festivities. New, smooth and satisfying: Donegal Estates Irish Whiskey ($32, 750 ml; $40, 1 liter), imported by Star Industries in Syosset.

On March 19, when St. Joseph is honored, you truly have a feast. Traditionally, it's a meatless meal. So, consider a Sicilian classic: pasta con le sarde with sardines, fennel, raisins, pine nuts, anchovies, toasted bread crumbs, perhaps saffron and almonds, too. To sip with this dish, you can open another Beaujolais. But whites, such as Gavi, Soave and Vermentino, are easygoing accompaniments, too.

Fava beans are often part of the St. Joseph's Day meal. A nice glass of Chianti complements them. Try the 2010 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico ($20) or the 2011 Coltibuono Chianti Classico RS ($15).

"St. Joseph's Table" features sweets such as sfingi and zeppole, and fig cookies. Enjoy a sparkling wine. Asti Spumante, Brachetto d'Acqui, Lambrusco and prosecco add to the party, where you can make one more toast with limoncello.