Wine Pairing with Lamb
Wine pairing with food is as much about the weight and texture of the food as it is about the colour and flavour. Because lamb is a red meat, the first and seemingly most obvious choice would be to match it with red wine – sticking to that old, tried-and-true rule, red meat with red wine. We’ll look at some red wine pairing options, but we’re also going to throw the rule book out the window and show you that it’s possible to enjoy lamb with white wines too.
Lamb and Red Wine
One of our favourite lamb-friendly red wines is Cabernet Sauvignon. The deep, intense colour rich fruit flavour and firm tannin structure of Cabernet matches well with the richness and texture of lamb. Cabernets from two different regions will give you two different flavour profiles. From warm regions like McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley, Cabernet will show ripe plum and earthy flavours with hints of chocolate, while cooler regions like Margaret River and Coonawarra produce Cabernets with characters of dried herbs, leafiness, black pepper.
Both styles make a worthy match to lamb, especially richer dishes like ragout, slow-cooked lamb shanks or casseroles.
Lamb dishes are as diverse and varied as wine styles, so let’s take a look at a few other options.
Minced lamb takes on a different texture and flavour to larger pieces, so can pair with a variety of wines. Middle Eastern lamb kofta, spiced with cumin, coriander and cinnamon makes a stunning match with aromatic Pinot Noir, especially from cooler areas such as Yarra Valley, Tasmania or New Zealand.
Lamb kebabs, flash-fried over glowing coals take on a sweet, smoky flavour that cries out for the punch and verve of red blends like Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre (often called ‘GSM’), the peppery elegance of cool-climate Shiraz, or delicate nature of Italian-styled reds such as Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo.
If you’re a white wine lover, fear not – you can enjoy your favourite white wine with lamb. It just depends on how the lamb is seasoned and cooked, and how it matches the weight and texture of the wine.
The light flavour of the spiced lamb kofta, char-grilled lamb rissoles, melt-in-the-mouth lamb korma curry, slow-cooked Greek lamb, baked moussaka or shepherd’s pie made with lamb mince can be a perfect match with the right white wines.
Steer clear of white wines that are too acidic and tart, such as Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Vermentino or young Semillon, and try lamb with wines that carry a little more complexity and weight: oak-aged Chardonnay, Arneis (from Italy or Australia), aged Hunter Valley Semillon, rich Viognier and aromatic Gruner Veltliner would be fine matches.
So you can see, the variety of lamb dishes gives you a great range of wine choices. As with all food and wine matching, the main factor is down to your personal preference. If you love to sip a bright, fresh white wine with red meat, go for it. If you prefer a warm, spicy red wine, enjoy every sip and every mouthful.
- Red Wine
- Food Pairing