Lamb Wine Pairing: An Ultimate Guide

Lamb is a versatile meat that can produce a range of delightfully delicious meals. And it is certainly a perfect option for any sophisticated dinner party.

But when serving your guests such a meal, it would be quite the social faux pas to serve it with the wrong kind of wine. 

Lamb Wine Pairing: An Ultimate Guide

And that is why we are providing you with this ultimate guide so that you can always select the most appropriate wine pairing for your favorite dish.

Regardless of whether you’re serving just yourself, a gathering of friends, or a larger party, opting for the perfect wine will significantly improve the overall experience of your meal. 

So, if you’d like to learn more about which wines work best when serving lamb, keep reading! 

Considerations To Make Before Pairing Your Wine 

There are a few different elements you should take into account before opting for your preferred wine when serving lamb. The first thing to note is that lamb is often characterized as being halfway between both game and beef meat.

It’s full of nutrients such as iron, vitamins, and omega-3, and most importantly, it has a high-fat content. Due to the fact that its fat content is high, you should always aim to select a wine that is medium to full-bodied. It should also be pretty acidic. 

The next thing you’ll need to consider is the preparation of your lamb. The different herbs, spices, or sauces that you select may influence which wine pairing is the most optimal for your specific meal. 

Do You Serve Red Or White Wine With Lamb? 

As a general rule of thumb, red wine is preferred over white wine when serving lamb. With that being said, though, there are some varieties of white wine that can work very well with lamb too. These tend to need to have a pretty high acidity to them though. 

In our recommendation list below, you’ll find a selection of both red and white wines that will work best with your dishes. Therefore, you can try and find both the best pairing and the variety of wine that you prefer. 

Lamb Wine Pairings: The Classics 

Okay, so let’s start this off with the classic wines that you can never really go wrong with. Think of these as the old but gold varieties. Time-tested. Proven to pair amazingly well each and every time. 

Lamb & Bordeaux

Bordeaux is always a safe bet to pair with lamb, it’s almost impossible for it to go wrong. This is a red variety of wine made up of a selection of different grapes, though the most dominant of them is Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. 

Bordeaux wine can range from medium to full-bodied and so will work amazingly well with the fat content in the lamb. They also have a slight to moderate acidity to them that pairs fantastically well. 

Ideally, a Bordeaux wine will be served with a well-seasoned herby roasted cut of lamb that is served beside a selection of vegetables and potatoes. 

Lamb & Chianti

Chianti is another brilliant choice to pair with lamb. It is a delicious red wine that originates from Tuscany, Italy. Using the Sangiovese grape, the wine produces a brightly acidic red wine that pairs phenomenally with your meat selection. 

Chianti works best when paired with a braised lamb shoulder that is generously coated in herbs and spices such as garlic and rosemary. 

Lamb & Rioja 

Here we have another delightful red wine that originates from a region in Spain, in which the wine is aptly named after, Rioja. Using a mixture of both Garnacha and Tempranillo grapes, Rioja has the perfect blend of both acidity and fruitiness. 

Generally, Rioja makes the best pairing when you are serving lamb shanks. 

Lamb & Assyrtiko

White wine lovers rejoice for this one is for you. Now, we’re aware that Assyrtiko might not exactly be a classic choice, but it has been paired with lamb for centuries now, so it’s pretty much a classic. 

This medium-bodied wine is a fan favorite all over Greece, but it is particularly well-revered in Santorini. And its most positive attribute is that it has an intense acidity to it which allows it to cut through the lamb’s fat content. 

Assyrtiko works best when served beside oven-roasted lamb, seasoned with oregano, with lemon potatoes as an accompaniment. 

Lamb Wine Pairing: Based On Cut & Preparation

Lamb Wine Pairing: An Ultimate Guide

Any Cut – Syrah

If you’re looking for a safe bet that will pair with practically any cut of lamb, then Syrah is your best bet.

This is because Syrah is both full-bodied and highly acidic meaning it can match the weight of your cut of meat and will have no problems cutting through that high-fat content. 

Syrah tends to complement most herbs and spices too. And we all know that lamb tastes best when it’s well-seasoned. So, regardless of what kind of lamb you are preparing, you can be sure Syrah wine will pair with it very well. 

Lamb Chops – Pinot Noir 

Since lamb chops are the softest and most tender cut of the meat, you tend to have a little more leeway with the wine that you select. Softer wines can cut through the meat in ways it would otherwise not be able to. 

Personally, we recommend opting for a Pinot Noir when preparing lamb chops as this tends to work the best. 

Roasted Leg Of Lamb – Xinomavro

We’ve all heard the phrase if it grows together, it goes together, right? Well, then by that logic an oven-roasted lamb is almost begging to be paired with a delicious Greek wine. 

Our personal favorite would have to be none other than Xinomavro. But if you’re not feeling quite so adventurous, then a Cabernet Sauvignon will work wonderfully for you too. 

Lamb Shank – Tempranillo

Lamb shank is arguably one of the tastiest cuts of meat that you can prepare. They are packed full of delicious flavor and are often slow-cooked to ensure that the meat falls right off the bone and melts in your mouth. 

And for such a bold and delicious meal, you need an equally delightful wine to sip at. There are several different wines that are up for this job.

Tempranillo, a delightful Spanish wine is our top recommendation, though Rhone Valley Syrah or Argentinian Malbec also pair fantastically well with lamb shank. 

Rack Of Lamb – Cru Beaujolais

Here’s another entry that will please the white-wine fanatics amongst us. Providing you cook your rack of lamb rare you won’t find a better wine pairing than a full-bodied white wine. Though a light red always works well too. 

We recommend serving a rare rack of lamb with a stunning Cru Beaujolais. Just be sure that it’s of the German grape variety. Alternatively, Semillon white wine pairs extraordinarily well too. 

For those who prefer a medium rack of ribs, a Californian Pinot Noir or Chardonnay tends to be your best choice. And then for those who prepare their meat well done, a Brunello or Bordeaux is likely your most optimal choice. 

Lamb Burgers – Zinfandel 

Lamb burgers are a great option to make a cookout a little more gourmet. In terms of wine pairings for such a meal, you’ll want to opt for a red wine that has some variety of oak aging as this will help to bring out that scrumptious smoky flavor. 

Personally, we recommend a juicy Zinfandel, but a trusty glass of Syrah would also be appropriate. 

Moroccan Lamb – Barbera/Grenache

For a hearty and flavorful dish, you can’t beat a Moroccan lamb stew cooked in a tagine. With such a dish, you tend to find that a very fruity red wine will work best. Both Barbera and Grenache work equally well. 

But you can also serve a delicious white wine, should you prefer to. Just be sure to make sure that it is oak-aged to ensure that it complements the flavors in your dish. We recommend a stunning Viognier in this instance. 

Lamb Curry – Malbec/Riesling

The type of wine you’ll select to serve with lamb curry will really depend on the preferred heat intensity when preparing it. If you are more fond of a milder creamier curry, then you’ll want to opt for either a Malbec or your trusty Syrah (Also check out Malbec Vs Cabernet Sauvignon). 

However, if you like to sweat a little when eating a curry, an aged Riesling is a much more appropriate option. A delicious Pinot Gris is also another option to choose if you like a spicy curry. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, regardless of what kind of lamb you intend to prepare, you should now be well aware of the best wine to pair with it. And we’re sure this knowledge will be likely to impress. 

Just keep in mind that due to lamb’s high fat content, you’ll always want to try and opt for a medium to full-bodied red wine that has some acidity to it. 

And as we’ve learned, if all else fails and you’re a little lost as to which wine to select, you can never go wrong with Syrah. 

Sarah Perez
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