Ah, the Holidays are right around the corner; you must have been planning to have a lamb on your table! Lambs are a well-known feature dish enjoyed during Holidays and special occasions. Its rich flavor, lean meat, and wide variety of preparation make it go well with various wines.
But, you have to choose what wine best goes with the lamb. The best wine pairing is based on its cut and how you plan to prepare the dish.
Basics About Pairing Lamb with Wine
It is a rule of thumb: red meat and red wine are the best pairings. Red wines have a high acidity level, bolder texture, and rich tannin that cuts through the meat’s high-fat component.
We are not putting white wine in the limelight; it deserves recognition too. You can also pair white wines with lamb. But, the best wines must be medium to full-bodied with high acid. Moreover, you have to pay attention to the meat cut preparation, herbs, spices, and cooking style, as these play a critical factor in lamb and wine pairing.
Here are a few basics to follow when choosing the perfect wine for your lamb dish:
- Cooking style:Lamb cooked rare to medium-rare is best with white wines, while roast lamb, medium or well-done, is perfect with red wines with complex flavor profiles.
- Lamb cuts:Lamb shanks are juicy and tender, making them a better match for rich red wines, while lean lamb meat goes well with white or light red wines.
- Herb and spices: You must choose a wine that pairs with the flavors of these herbs and spices the lambs are cooked with. Let’s say you seasoned your lamb with basil and dill; this is best with wines with earthy notes or grassy hints.
So, decide first how you want to prepare your lamb to know what wine best goes with it. Below are the five most popular ways to cook lamb and what wine best goes with the lamb dish.
Safe Wine Choice with Lamb Dish
Sometimes you need to go for the safest wine choice. Even though certain wines go well with specific lamb dishes, personal taste still matters. If you are hesitant to introduce new wine and lamb pairings to your guests, stick to the safe wine choices.
Wine choices that are excellent choices for common lamb dishes are Pinot Noir and Bordeaux red blends. This wine selection has a dense, salty flavor and the perfect hint of sweetness; ideal for stimulating one’s sensory experience and balancing the natural rich flavors of the lamb.
But, if you want to strengthen your wine pairing skills, this requires a lot of time, effort, and a shot of luck, as recipes vary. You have to consider the flavors that best complement each other thoughtfully.
Best Wine Choice According to Lamb Dish
Unlike other meats, lamb dish does not have a specific rule on what wine to pair. But, you have to put big consideration into its cooking style. It is a critical deciding factor on which wine to choose. You would know you picked the perfect wine because it does not overpower the lamb dish.
You cannot ruin the special occasion because of the wrong wine pairing! No matter which wine you pair your lamb dish with, it will be a savory and memorable feast. But, if you want to impress your guests, here is how you should pair your wine accordingly.
1. Roasted Lamb
Roasted lamb dishes are often served during family events or holidays. Roasted lambs are often in cutlets, leg of lamb, or rack of lamb and are served medium-rare to well-done.
The rich flavors of roasted lamb are perfect to pair with bold red wine with tastes of red fruit flavor. An excellent pair for roasted lambs served in medium-rare is Pinot noir.
Some of you love their roast lamb in Italian-inspired flavors. If you drizzled your roast lamb with rosemary, garlic, or oregano, pair your roasted lamb with Italian red wine. Sangiovese Grosso or Chianti Classic complements will best complement the flavor.
2. Braised Lamb Shanks
Lamb shank alone is a lamb cut with rich flavors. But, you have to pay attention when cooking lamb shank. This part of the lamb’s leg becomes chewy when cooked too fast. Put it on slow to medium heat to have tender and juicy lamb meat. Moreover, cooking the lamb shanks in tomato paste enhances its flavor.
Braised lamb shank is best paired with wines that have a strong fruity red flavor like Tempranillo and Malbec. If you are expecting wine enthusiast guests, impress them with Syrah. Its high wine alcohol content adds unique boldness and richer taste to the meal.
3. Lamb Chops
Lamb chop is a rustic dish served simply with cooked potatoes, carrots, or other root vegetables for its sides. Some love to accompany their lamb chops with balsamic or mushroom gravy making the dish a more hearty meal.
Red wine blends are most frequently paired with lamb chops, but Italian reds, Bordeaux blends, and Pinot Noir may also be a good pair. The earthy notes of lamb chops are balanced by the sweet red berry taste of Pinot Noir.
But wait, you might feel adventurous. Some might believe rosé wines do not go well with foods. How about trying a glass of rosé champagne with rare, tender lamb chops? If this suits your taste, your opinion will change others’ take on rosé wines and food.
4. Grilled Lamb
Grilled or barbecued lambs have a smoky flavor that you have to complement and balance out with wine. You can complement the char flavor with dry rosé wine or Pinot Noir to make the smoky punch more flavorful.
If you plan to make the dish a notch, make your grilled lamb cuts more flavorful by rubbing herbs or spices. Spicy grilled lamb is best paired with fruity red wines, while a herb-based rub goes well with light rose wines.
5. Lamb Curry
There’s a lot to consider in pairing lamb curry and wine. Lamb curry recipes have a wide variety of ingredients that makes them vary widely and have a degree of spiciness. Thus, getting the right wine pairing for lamb curry makes it tricky.
Sweet wines with a smooth texture are best for sweet and light lamb curries. They add a tart richness that the lamb curry does not have. An example of these wines is Malbec, Pinot Noir, or Syrah.
If you love spicy lamb curry, go with low-acid wines. Sauvignon Blanc is a common choice; it is a dry white wine that does not overwhelm your appetite for such a spicy meal. Consider the spice level of the lamb curry you plan to make to match it perfectly well with red or white wine.
6. Lamb Tagine
Lamb tagine is a Moroccan dish with several spices and a unique cooking style. The lamb is sealed in the pot with spices and vegetables, enhancing the dish’s flavor. Its ingredients need a wine pairing that can mix well and amplify the flavor of the spices.
A fruity red wine such as Grenache or Barbera goes well with lamb tagine. If you like to have white wine, an oak-aged Viognier complements this dish’s flavor best.
7. Young or Spring Lamb
Young or spring lamb is an excellent delicacy among lamb dishes. It is served rare and tender, melting in your mouth with every bite. If you are planning to have this dish, you have to make sure that the wine you bought is light.
A subtle, refined red wine like Pinot Noir is an excellent choice, but dry vintage rosé is the best choice if you love white wine. The fruity and rich flavor of this wine pairing does not overpower the subtle flavor of the young cuts of lamb.
8. Lamb Stew
You can have any lamb cut for lamb stew, but the lamb shoulder is the best. The dish has several herbs, vegetables, and spices of your preference. Lamb stew complements best with medium-bodied wines such as Rioja Crianza and Merlot. These wines do not overpower the rich flavor of the lamb stew.
Match-making wine and lamb is another way to make your guests look forward to the Holiday feast.
Does White Wine Go Well with Lamb?
Red meats have always been accustomed to red wine. White wines do not have the boldness to complement the rich flavor of lamb meat. But, as we have mentioned earlier in the post, if you prefer white wine, you can have it!
It only goes well for your personal preference. If you pair white wine with lamb, choose a more complex wine and do not opt for tart ones.
Wine pairing is art; there is no universal rule to follow. You discover the flavors that best complement each other. Remember, lamb recipes vary, and everyone has a preference for their food.
Which wine do you prefer that best goes with lamb? Do not be discouraged if guests find your pairings a bit differently or if you discover unusual pairings.
George Moore, co-founder of Wine Flavor Guru, is a charismatic entrepreneur with a rich background in California’s wine industry. Alongside Sylvia, he transformed a Sonoma County vineyard into a source of premium wines. George’s expertise in sourcing exceptional grapes and his approachable style make wine appreciation both accessible and engaging.