Heavier Lamb dishes pair best with full-bodied wines such as Bordeaux, Syrah, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.  Meanwhile, Spring Lamb served pink pairs best with lighter wines like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais Cru.

This blog focuses primarily on cuts of lamb, however you’ll be able to find dozens of wine pairings for various lamb dishes in the table below.  I also have separate blogs on lamb chops, lamb gyros, lamb tagine, lamb burgers, and lamb shanks with future blogs to follow.

Best Wine to Pair with Lamb

Grilled Lamb Chops and Bordeaux Pairing

Lamb chops, with their tender, juicy meat and delectable fat marbling, require a wine that can both complement and enhance their flavour. Bordeaux wines possess the necessary attributes to create a perfect harmony with lamb chops.

a. Cabernet Sauvignon Dominant Blends: Bordeaux blends with a higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon showcase robust tannins, intense dark fruit flavours, and a hint of herbs. These elements complement the richness and natural gaminess of lamb chops, adding depth and complexity to each bite. The tannins in the wine also help cut through the richness of the meat, resulting in a balanced and satisfying combination.

b. Merlot Influence: Bordeaux blends with a higher percentage of Merlot offer a softer, velvety texture and notes of ripe red fruits, plum, and chocolate. This gentle character of Merlot works beautifully with lamb chops, enhancing their tenderness and adding a touch of elegance to the overall experience.

When it comes to pairing Bordeaux wines with lamb chops, consider the cooking method, seasoning, and sauce or accompaniments to create a harmonious symphony of flavours. Here are a few pairing suggestions to inspire your culinary adventure:

Grilled Lamb Chops

Opt for a Bordeaux blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon for succulent, smoky grilled lamb chops. The wine’s bold tannins and dark fruit flavours will stand up to the charred exterior and complement the juicy, flavorful meat. Consider wines from the left bank of Bordeaux, such as Pauillac, Saint-Julien, or Margaux appellations, for their Cabernet Sauvignon-driven blends.

Herb-Crusted Lamb Chops

Lamb chops coated in aromatic herbs demand a wine that can match their complexity. Bordeaux blends with a balance of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot work exceptionally well in this case. The herbal notes in the dish resonate with the wine’s herbal undertones, creating a harmonious combination of flavours.

Braised Lamb Chops

Braised lamb chops, slow-cooked to tender perfection, call for a Bordeaux wine with depth and structure. Look for blends from the right bank of Bordeaux, such as Saint-Émilion or Pomerol, where Merlot plays a leading role. These wines bring luscious fruit flavours, velvety tannins, and earthy nuances that complement the richness of the braised lamb.

Wine Reduction or Mint Sauce

If you’re serving lamb chops with a wine reduction sauce or mint sauce, consider an aged Bordeaux with softer tannins.  The wine’s robust flavours will  complement the richness of the sauce, enhancing its flavours while harmonizing with the lamb.  In addition, if you choose a Cabernet Sauvignon dominant Bordeaux, you’ll often find hints of  mint or menthol which go quite nicely with the mint sauce.

Cornas and Roasted Leg of Lamb Pairing

When it comes to indulging in a succulent roasted leg of lamb, there’s one wine that stands out as the perfect companion: Cornas. Hailing from the northern Rhône region of France, Cornas wines offer a remarkable depth and intensity that beautifully complements the flavours of roasted lamb.

The Enchanting Qualities of Cornas:

Cornas wines, made predominantly from the Syrah grape variety, exhibit distinctive characteristics that make them an ideal match for roasted leg of lamb.

Cornas wines are known for their full-bodied and powerful nature. They boast bold tannins and an intense concentration of flavours, including dark fruits, black pepper, smoked meat, and savoury herbs. These robust qualities perfectly align with the rich flavours and textures of a roasted leg of lamb, enhancing and elevating the overall dining experience.

The Syrah grape variety, which is the foundation of Cornas wines, contributes its own unique attributes that harmonize with roasted lamb. Syrah often displays notes of blackberries, blackcurrants, spices, and a hint of smokiness. These characteristics mirror the flavours that develop during the roasting process, creating a delightful synergy between the wine and the dish.

Roasting a leg of lamb involves slow cooking, which results in a tender and succulent meat with a caramelized crust. The depth of flavour and richness of the dish requires a wine that can stand up to it. Opt for a mature Cornas, preferably aged for a few years, as it develops additional complexity and smoother tannins. The wine’s aging process softens its powerful nature, allowing it to integrate beautifully with the roasted flavours of the lamb.

Complementary Flavors:

When serving a roasted leg of lamb, consider the seasoning and accompaniments to enhance the pairing experience.

  • Herbs and Spices: Lamb pairs wonderfully with herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and garlic. These aromatic flavours complement the peppery and herbal qualities found in Cornas wines. Consider marinating the leg of lamb with these herbs or creating a herb crust to intensify the harmony between the wine and the dish.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Roasted root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, often accompany a roasted leg of lamb. These earthy and sweet flavours align perfectly with the savoury notes in Cornas wines, creating a symphony of taste on the palate.

Chateauneuf du Pape and Lamb Shank Pairing

In the realm of wine and food pairings, few combinations rival the exceptional harmony between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and tender lamb shanks. Hailing from the Southern Rhône region of France, Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines possess a robust and complex character that perfectly complements the richness and depth of flavours found in slow-cooked lamb shanks.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are renowned for their opulence and distinctive characteristics, making them an exceptional choice to accompany the flavorful and tender meat of lamb shanks.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines are typically blends of up to 12 grapes, including Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grape varieties. These blends offer a full-bodied and rich character, with an abundance of flavours that include ripe dark fruits, black pepper, herbs, and hints of earthiness. These attributes align beautifully with the deep flavours and succulent nature of slow-cooked lamb shanks, creating a harmonious pairing experience.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines often benefit from aging, developing further complexity and nuance over time. With aging, these wines showcase additional layers of flavours, softer tannins, and integrated aromas, elevating the pairing to another level. The aged characteristics of Châteauneuf-du-Pape harmonize with the rich flavours and tender texture of lamb shanks, creating a symphony of flavours that unfold with each sip and bite.

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks:

Lamb shanks, cooked low and slow, result in tender, succulent meat that falls off the bone. The richness and depth of flavours in slow-cooked lamb shanks are a perfect match for the complexity and boldness of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wine’s robust structure and intense fruit flavours beautifully complement the tender, flavorful meat, creating a harmonious union.

When preparing lamb shanks, consider infusing them with a combination of herbs and spices that will complement the wine’s flavour profile. Common seasonings include rosemary, thyme, garlic, and bay leaves. These herbs and spices mirror the aromatic complexity found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, enhancing the pairing experience and creating a seamless connection between the wine and the dish.

Ribera del Duero and Rack of Lamb Pairing

Ribera del Duero is a renowned wine region in Spain, located in the northern part of the country along the Duero River. It is known for producing high-quality red wines, particularly those made from the Tempranillo grape variety.

Rack of lamb, on the other hand, is a delicious and tender cut of meat taken from the rib section of the lamb. It is highly regarded for its delicate flavour and juicy, succulent meat. The rack is typically cooked by roasting or grilling, allowing the fat to render and the meat to develop a beautiful crust while remaining tender and pink on the inside.

When it comes to pairing Ribera del Duero wines with food, the robust and complex characteristics of these wines make them an excellent choice to accompany rich and flavorful dishes like rack of lamb. The full-bodied nature of Ribera del Duero wines, coupled with their firm tannins and vibrant acidity, allows them to stand up to the bold flavours and fatty nature of the lamb.

The intense fruit flavours found in Ribera del Duero wines, such as black cherry, plum, and blackberry, complement the natural sweetness of the lamb and provide a wonderful contrast to its savoury elements. The wine’s tannins help cleanse the palate after each bite, ensuring a harmonious balance between the rich lamb and the wine.

To enhance the pairing, it is advisable to choose a Ribera del Duero wine with some aging potential. Wines that have spent time in oak barrels will develop additional complexity, exhibiting notes of vanilla, spice, and tobacco. These flavours can beautifully complement the caramelized crust of the rack of lamb and add further layers of depth to the pairing.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Lamb Roast Pairing

Lamb roast, a succulent and tender cut of meat typically taken from the leg or shoulder of the lamb, is a popular choice for special occasions or festive meals. The rich and slightly gamey flavour of lamb pairs exceptionally well with the bold and structured characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon.

One of the reasons why Cabernet Sauvignon is an ideal match for lamb roast is its ability to cut through the richness and fat of the meat. The wine’s firm tannins help cleanse the palate, preventing the dish from becoming too heavy or overwhelming. The combination of the wine’s acidity and tannins also helps to balance the natural sweetness of the lamb, resulting in a harmonious and enjoyable dining experience.

Cabernet Sauvignon often exhibits flavours of blackcurrant, black cherry, blackberry, and sometimes even hints of mint or eucalyptus. These fruit-forward characteristics of the wine can beautifully complement the savoury flavours of the lamb, providing a delightful contrast. Additionally, the wine’s aging potential and oak influence can add complexity and notes of vanilla, cedar, or tobacco, which further enhance the pairing by bringing out the roasted and caramelized flavours of the lamb.

When selecting a Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with lamb roast, consider opting for a wine with medium to full body and a good balance between fruit, tannins, and acidity. Wines from renowned Cabernet Sauvignon-producing regions such as Napa Valley in California, Bordeaux in France, or Coonawarra in Australia often showcase exceptional quality and complexity.

Pinot Noir and Spring Lamb Pairing

Spring lamb, typically harvested between three and five months old, offers a milder and more delicate taste compared to lamb from older animals. It is known for its tenderness, succulence, and subtle sweetness. When paired with Pinot Noir, the wine’s light to medium body, vibrant acidity, and nuanced flavours can complement the lamb’s delicate nature.

Pinot Noir often showcases red fruit flavours such as raspberry, strawberry, and cherry, which can harmonize with the natural sweetness of the lamb. These fruit flavours provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the meat, bringing out its inherent flavours without overpowering them. The wine’s gentle tannins and balanced acidity also help cleanse the palate between each bite, ensuring a pleasurable and well-rounded dining experience.

Another factor that makes Pinot Noir an excellent pairing for spring lamb is its earthy and herbaceous undertones. Many Pinot Noir wines exhibit notes of mushrooms, forest floors, and dried herbs, which can complement the herb-infused seasonings often used in lamb dishes. The earthiness of the wine adds depth and complexity, creating an intriguing interplay of flavours with the lamb.

When selecting a Pinot Noir to accompany spring lamb, consider opting for wines from cooler climate regions such as Burgundy in France, Oregon in the United States, or Central Otago in New Zealand. These regions are renowned for producing exceptional Pinot Noir with a delicate balance of fruit, acidity, and minerality.