Any lamb wine pairing should first and foremost consider the type of lamb in question and how it is prepared. Lamb is a flavorful meat that lends itself readily to a wide array of cooking techniques and seasonings, which explains the equally wide range of lamb wine pairings available. This meat is versatile, ranging from leaner and milder milk-fed lamb to bolder and gamier mutton. It can be served pink, slow-roasted, braised in a stew, minced and formed into patties, curried or even mounted on skewers. Be it for your Easter centerpiece or a weeknight indulgence, the best wine to pair with any lamb dish will depend on the cut and preparation you choose. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite lamb recipes and the best wine styles to pair with them.
Rack of lamb is one of the most popular cuts and is usually either pan-fried, grilled or roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh herbs and spices. Typically made from young or milk-fed lamb (young lamb) the meat is tender, juicy and pink, served anywhere from rare to well-done.
What wine is best with rack of lamb? With a pink rack of lamb served rare, we recommend a rosé wine, a rosé Champagne or even a Bordeaux dry white wine with Sauvignon Blanc, which will go nicely with an herb seasoning. A rack of lamb served medium will go nicely with an Oregon Pinot Noir or full-flavored Gewürztraminer from Alsace. And for a well-done rack of lamb, we recommend a full-bodied Brunello di Montalcino wine or Grenache-based Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Lamb chops are typically very meaty yet lean and full of flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This cut is usually served medium-rare and is grilled or barbecued with a bit of smoky flavor. What wine pairs with lamb chops, you ask?
We recommend a medium-bodied red wine with this recipe. Lamb chops seasoned with garlic and thyme will go nicely with a Chianti Classico, while lamb chops topped with a bright chimichurri sauce find a perfect pairing partner in an Argentine Malbec. These wines are bold enough to stand up to the smokiness of the barbecue, the gaminess of the meat and the bright flavors of the seasoning, without overpowering all that delicious lamb flavor.
One of the most decorative and impressive lamb recipes is a slow-roasted leg of lamb, seasoned with coarse salt, rosemary, thyme and garlic and served with roasted potatoes.
To pair with a roast lamb, we recommend a bold red wine with a bit of age on it, like a Nebbiolo-based Barolo wine or Cabernet Sauvignon based Bordeaux blends, like a red wine from the Pauillac wine region.
The shank is another popular cut of lamb, taken from the lower part of the legs. This is a hard-working, muscular cut of meat with plenty of connective tissue and collagen, making it quite tough when cooked too quickly. When it is slow-cooked, either braised or stewed with red wine and root vegetables, lamb shank becomes fall-of-the-bone tender.
Slow-cooking with wine and vegetables intensifies the flavors of a lamb, so to pair with lamb shank we recommend an equally bold and flavorful wine. Some of our favorite lamb shank wine pairings are a Grenache-based Priorat wine, a Tempranillo from Rioja wine or Ribera del Duero, or a younger red Bordeaux wine.
A classic lamb recipe and a popular comfort food, traditional Irish stew is typically prepared from tougher cuts of mutton, stewed in broth with onions, turnips and potatoes. This is a dish with very delicate flavors, and the right wine pairing will be one that does not overshadow the latter.
Some of the most flavorful and dynamic lamb recipes are curries, like the very popular Indian lamb curry dish Rogan Josh. Lamb curries are seasoned with a dazzling array of spices and aromatics, like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, chilis, cumin, coriander, fennel, nutmeg, turmeric and paprika. Typically lamb curry recipes can be divided into three categories, each with its own wine pairings.
Green curries, with a more herbal sauce, will go nicely with sparkling wines, like Cava or a French Cremant. Red curries with more dried red chilis in the recipe, pair nicely with rosé wines, Gamay from Beaujolais or even an off-dry German Riesling, whose hint of sweetness will tame the spice of the dish. And finally, creamy curries with coconut in their sauce will go nicely with an equally creamy oak-aged Chardonnay from Burgundy wine or a Pinot Gris from Alsace. The acidity in these white wines will cut the richness of the sauce.
A classic Moroccan lamb wine pairing recipe is a lamb tagine cooked with dried apricots, almonds and plenty of sweet spices.
A Moroccan lamb stew will go beautifully with a fruity red wine, like a Barbera from Piedmont wine or a Mencia-based Bierzo wine from Spain.
And finally, a great way to add some pizzazz to your backyard barbeque is with a couple of lamb burgers, served hot off the grill. The ground lamb patties can be seasoned with plenty of garlic, some red onion, rosemary and thyme, topped with fresh tzatziki, feta cheese or yoghurt sauce.
A boldly flavored, smoky and spicy lamb burger will go beautifully with an equally bold and spicy red wine, especially a juicy old-vine Zinfandel from California or a cool-climate Syrah from the northern Rhone Valley wine regions.
A wide range of wines pair with lamb, from a rosé Champagne to a bold and tannic red wine. When choosing which wine to pair with lamb, we recommend always considering the recipe in question, the cooking techniques and seasonings chosen.
Both white wines and red wines can pair with lamb, depending on the recipe chosen. White wines, like a fruity Sauvignon Blanc will go nicely with a rack of lamb served pink and seasoned with fresh herbs. Meanwhile, a more robust red wine like a Zinfandel or Bordeaux red wine will pair best with more intensely flavored slow-cooked lamb dishes.
Lamb is a versatile and delicious meat, which finds its place easily in any circumstance: an eye-catching Easter centerpiece guaranteed to impress your friends, a romantic dinner for two, or a special weeknight dinner after a long, productive day at the office. From delicate and tender to robust and gamey, this protein sparkles in a wide range of preparations, pairing seamlessly with a myriad selection of red wines and white wines. When choosing the perfect lamb wine pairing, we recommend paying close attention to the unique flavors and textures of your recipe.
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