Lamb is a versatile and popular cut of meat. Tender, high in fat, and possessing intense gamy and smoky flavors, lamb is a unique and widely enjoyed meat. Like most meals, it’s even better when enjoyed with the perfectly matching glass of wine. But which lamb and wine pairings actually work?

Which Wine Goes With Lamb?

As a general rule, red wine best compliments a lamb dish, especially rich and intense red wines. The best wine can vary based on the specific preparation and seasoning of the meal, though.

Many cultures from many different regions, including the Mediterranean and Central Asia, know delicious lamb dishes. And they all cook with their individual methods and spices. This variety of preparations opens many possibilities for complimentary wine pairings.

Lamb With Red Wine or Lamb With White Wine?

You may have heard that lamb is among the most wine-friendly foods, and it is true! Lamb can pair well with many different wines, but especially red wine. That’s only logical as red wines are a common choice when pairing with a fatty, flavorful cut of meat. Especially rich, bold red wines will pair well because they can stand even those strong flavors that overpower lighter wines.

However, white wine lovers can make some delicious pairings, as well. It’s best to reach for a bottle on the drier and more full-bodied side as light-bodied wines won’t be able to cut through the fatty lamb meat.

More Details on Wine Body: WHAT IS WINE BODY AND HOW CAN YOU DESCRIBE IT?

5 Lamb Dishes With Wine Pairings

With so many ways to prepare the lamb, it’s worth taking a look at individual dishes and their flavors to find a wine pairing that is just right. Here are five common, delicious ways to eat lamb and the perfect wines to go along with them.

Roasted Lamb and Wine

It’s common to serve roasted cuts of lamb, including racks, leg, or cutlets. These dishes are great for a family gathering or a large catered event as they are easy to prepare in large quantities.

Typically, they are medium-rare to well-done and seasoned with fresh herbs, spices, and possibly a reduction sauce or gravy. You will often sense Italian-inspired flavors like garlic, oregano, basil, or rosemary in these meals.

The perfect match for this flavor profile is an earthy Italian red wine. Barolo or Chianti are two options to consider. Both wines are high in acidity, which will cut through the fattiness of the lamb. And they both possess earthy notes that pair well with the meat’s flavor.

If you’re looking to pair white wine with lamb, a roast is a great option to do so. When flavored with a bright sauce or fresh, fragrant herbs, it pairs nicely with an Italian Rosé wine, such as Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé. This wine has enough acidity to cut through the lamb’s fattiness, and its slight earth flavors match the herbaceous flavors of the roast. Besides, it adds an exciting sparkle to the dining experience.

Lamb Chops and Wine

Lamb chops are a hearty, rustic dish. Commonly, lamb chops are enjoyed with cooked potatoes and root vegetables such as carrots or parsnips. Gravies and reductions are a popular way to add flavor to lamb chops. Altogether, this creates a sumptuous, flavorful meal.

Medium to full-bodied red wines will shine here as they won’t get lost next to so many bold flavors. Consider a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Tuscan blend. Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia’s Le Serre Nuove from the Italian Bolgheri DOC is an excellent choice. The blend from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc offers a full body and smooth tannins. With its aromas of red berries and subtle balsamic notes, it will combine greatly with the lamb’s rich meat.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine and Wine

Moroccan lamb tagine combines sweet and savory flavors into one beautiful, tasty dish. It commonly consists of potatoes, vegetables like peas and carrots, and a variety of oriental herbs and spices.

Variations of the recipe allow many different spices, but some of them like cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and paprika are staples. While cooking in a big pot like a slow-cooked stew, the meat absorbs all of these flavors and gets incredibly tender.

A fruity and dry red wine will perfectly offset the complex flavor profile of Moroccan lamb tagine. Its fruitiness will complement the sweet spices like cinnamon and ginger, and the dryness will draw out the savory flavors of the dish. Search for Italian red wines such as Dolcetto or Valpolicella. They have a great balance of fruit-forward and slightly bitter flavors, and thus, they make a perfect pair.

Plate of Lamb Tagine

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Lamb Ragu and Wine

Lamb ragu has a rich flavor profile that combines some acidity with slightly sweet tomato sauce, while herbs like thyme and rosemary add some lively freshness.

With all of these hearty, robust flavors, this dish calls for a bold wine. Again, a bottle of full-bodied red wine is the best pick. For lamb ragu specifically, an oak-aged wine with significant tannins is a great pair. A Cabernet Sauvignon will do the job quite well. Especially wines from the New World make a good match. They typically undergo an oaking phase and thus develop smooth tannins and delicious, complex flavor profiles. This combination makes them an excellent counterpart for the rich flavors of lamb ragu. For instance, try Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from California.

More Details on New World Wines: COMPARING OLD WORLD WINE VS. NEW WORLD WINE

Grilled Lamb Kebabs and Wine

Lamb kebabs typically contain not only lamb meat but also grilled vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, or cherry tomatoes. The seasoning of the meat can vary, but typically they compare to the oriental flavors of Moroccan Tagine. The grilling adds extra smoky and roasted aromas. The kebabs often come with a yogurt sauce that incorporates fresh citrus flavors.

Lamb kebab with Rice and Yogurt Sauce

Lamb Kebab with Rice and Yogurt Sauce

Both the vegetables and the yogurt sauce balance the rich meat flavors. Thus, you don’t need a bold wine to pair with this dish. Instead, you can go a little lighter: A medium-bodied wine like a Merlot from the New World offers the right characteristics: It’s bold enough to stand the intense meat flavors. But it doesn’t overpower the sweet and fresh aromas of the yogurt sauce and the vegetables. Furthermore, its velvety mouthfeel matches perfectly the tender lamb meat.

The combination of meat, vegetable, and sauce flavors also allows for a white wine pairing. It should have some weight and a rather complex flavor profile, though. A Chardonnay aged in oak matches both of these requirements.

Final Words

The many possibilities for cooking lamb opens up similar possibilities for wine pairings. It’s essential to find a bold enough wine to counter the rich meat and also matches the dish’s specific flavors. With all the variety here, do not be afraid to try something new, whether that’s a new way of enjoying lamb or a bottle of wine that strays from your usual preferences.