This blog is missing is a good series. Something I can rely on to provide me with interesting tit bits to share with you all once a month. And since my day job revolves around the world wine, I thought it might be a good idea to start unraveling the minefield behind food and wine pairing in an easy going and friendly manner.
A quick google search reveals that a lot of people are searching for answers – but a lot of the answers are confusing dissections of the who? what? when? and why? I am going to ( attempt ) to make it all a little less complicated. And help you make the right decisions when it comes to choosing the perfect wine pairing for your next dinner party, or even your favourite take out! First up – Wine Pairing with Lamb.
Wine Pairing with Lamb
Lamb is a great one to get us started. The variations are so great that we can cover lots of varietals, with a brief explanation as to why the would be best matched to lamb prepared in a variety of different manners.
Of course lamb can be roasted with many different herbs, and served with all manners of garish. But for today we will assume that our roast lamb is smeared in olive oil, garlic & rosemary. Just how I like it! With plenty of mint sauce on the side – obv.
When so many herbs are in play, you need to find a wine that matches the big flavours. And in turn has some peppery, herby notes – it’s a good idea to let the wine and your meal work together on this occasion. The first place I would look to for a wine pairing with lamb that has been prepared this way is Spain. Rioja works particularly well with its mellow berry fruit, and if you are looking for something particularly special a Rioja Reserva has a vanilla warmth from oak aging will compliment the herbaceous Lamb superbly well!
Wines paired with any curry tend to need a little bit of sweetness, to help them to stand up to the spice. My pick would be Californian Zinfandel – full bodied, yet smooth tannins. Lots of juicy blackberry fruit to sooth the palate, and a velvety texture. Heavenly. Though it is worth bearing in mind that if your curry is going to be a hot one, it might be better to stick to beer. An aromatic IPA should fit the bill.
Much lighter in flavour, I would tend to pair a dish such as shepard’s pie, or Lancashire hot pot with a lighter, brighter red. Id go as far as to say a Beaujolais could be in order. Pick one of the slightly fuller Beaujolais Crus such as a Morgon or Moulin-á-Vent. Here you will find lots of red berries, as with all Beaujolais – but with an accompanying earthiness for a more savoury take.
Lamb tagine of probably one of my favourite things to do with lamb. Lots of apricots, plenty of almonds and a long slow cooking process. It’s the kind of thing winter evenings were made for.
Often when pairing wine with food it is wise to look towards countries whose cuisine is similiar. Or of course the of the same origin ( think pizza & italian red ). Moroccan wines are hard to come by – but you can often find a good Lebanese wine easily. Look for blends that include Cinsaut and/or Syrah to provide plenty of ripe red fruit and spices – working fabulously with a sweet tasting tagine. My favourite Lamb Tagine recipe is the perfect match btw….
Rack of Spring Lamb
Spring Lamb is a real treat – that delicately sweet meat, served pink with some young spring vegetables. A light, juicy red is the best match here. For that slightly fruiter Pinot Noir I would start my search in the new world, which is not something I often do! Cast your eye over the selection from Chile for good value options. But if you fancy a real treat that honors the lamb suitably well I would plump for a New Zealand Pinot Noir. Central Otago is one of the areas to keep an eye out for on that front label. The bright red juicy fruit with compliment the sweet notes of the pink lamb – yet bring out the slight earthiness of the young veg ( I am thinking carrots and leeks? ).
BBQ’d Lamb Chops
This is one where the cooking process has to take importance when choosing your wine. The effect of BBQing is a big deal – that slightly charred ( in a good way of course 😉 ) requires a different sort of wine than if you were to cook the lamb under the grill. I like to pair them, and lots of other bbq’d foods with a Cabernet Sauvignon – usually something from Chile. Its green pepper notes compliment the rustic lamb dish, especially if served with a throw it all in cous cous salad. #Yum. Chilean Cabernet retains enough dark cherry fruit to make sure it isn’t too heavy despite plenty of pepper. Tannins are smooth – no chewy wines at my BBQ please!
But it doesn’t stop there! There are so many options out there, from so many different areas, in an infinite amount of grape varieties. For me, the best part of the journey is always the advemture at the start. This only meant to be a loose guide, pointing in the right direction. I’d love to know what your favourite wine pairing with lamb is – or if you try any of the above!
Also let me know if there is anything you would like me to cover. Food and wine pairing – or anything else wine related. As I have had great fun putting this together for you.