Shepherd’s Pie pairs best with earthy, spicy, and acidic red wines such as Pinot Noir, Chianti, and Côtes-du-Rhône. A buttery Chardonnay also pairs well with Shepherd’s pie as it complements the outer pie crust of the Shepherd’s Pie.
Shepherd’s Pie vs Cottage Pie
The main difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie is that Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, and Cottage Pie is made with beef. Both pies often feature leftovers from a big dinner where the meat, gravy, and veggies (like peas, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes) are baked into a pie. I love how the bready pie crust soaks up all the gravy and how all the flavours mingle and intertwine with every bite. Pairing wine with Cottage Pie is similar to Shepherd’s pie as both dishes are savoury and require some acidity to handle the gravy and crust.
These pairings will also work with Irish Shepherd’s Pie, which features mashed potato as the pie crust vs bread. Although every city, town, country, state, or province has their own variation on what is true Shepherd’s Pie.
Best Wine with Shepherd’s Pie
Pinot Noir & Shepherd’s Pie Pairing
Pinot Noir is an excellent wine pairing with Shepherd Pie as the earthy tones of mushroom and forest floor of this red wine complement the gravy’s earthy texture and notes. Meanwhile the fruity acidity cuts through the gravy, veggies and bread crust where it can zero in and elevate the tender lamb flavours.
Pinot Noir is a rich and silky red wine with velvety flavours of black cherry, raspberry and strawberry that provide a pleasant contrast to the savoury Shepherd’s Pie flavours. Pinot Noir’s light fruitiness will also help mask the gamier flavours of the lamb. Meanwhile, with Pinot Noir, you also get amazing notes of dark chocolate, truffle, mushroom and smoke, which mingle well with the veggies, gravy and meat.
Good Pinot Noir is expensive as it is a costly wine to grow and manufacture. You can buy cheap Pinot Noir, however, it will taste like discount wine, as it uses chemicals and flavourings to appeal to the mass market. If you can’t afford good Pinot Noir, select a Beaujolais Villages to pair with your Shepherd’s Pie. At half the cost, Beaujolais Villages delivers 85% of the goodness of Pinot Noir.
Chianti & Shepherd’s Pie Pairing
Chianti makes an excellent wine pairing with Shepherd’s Pie as this Italian red wine balances tannin with acidity, meaning it tastes fresh, but has enough substance to handle the chunks of lamb. Standout flavours of Chianti include cherry, strawberry, tea, spice, smoke and raspberry. Smooth and satiny on the tongue, Chianti also teases you with notes of earth, leather and oregeno which get along great with the savoury Shepherd’s Pie flavours.
Côtes-du-Rhône Villages & Shepherd’s Pie
Côtes-du-Rhône is a medium-bodied red wine from France that can be made from 23 different types of grapes. While there is potential to have a lot of variety with Côtes-du-Rhône, the dominant grape is Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan blended in.
Expect an incredibly food-friendly red wine with Côtes-du-Rhône, which will feature juicy flavours of raspberry, strawberry, blackberry and plum to keep you refreshed. You’ll also find notes of black pepper, earth, spice, smoke and meat to complement the Shepherd’s Pie.
Bordeaux & Shepherd’s Pie Pairing
Lamb and Bordeaux is considered one of the greatest food and wine pairings. And with good reason, as Bordeaux is a blended red wine that is intended to be enjoyed with food. Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, Bordeaux also blends in Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.
When it comes to Bordeaux, the focus is often on the expensive bottles that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. However, there are many budget-friendly bottles of Bordeaux to be found on store shelves to enjoy with Shepherd’s Pie. And with centuries of growth and production, Bordeaux is a masterful red wine that features velvety flavours of cassis, plum and cherry. Bordeaux also features complementary notes of mineral, smoke, vanilla, spice, tobacco, earth, dark chocolate and mushrooms to keep you engaged in your meal. The more expensive the bottle, the more expressive the red wine will be.
Chardonnay & Shepherd’s Pie
A medium oaked and buttery Chardonnay elevates the bready flavours of the pie crust of your Shepherd’s Pie. Toasty, buttery, and a touch smoky, you will love how Chardonnay mingles perfectly with the browned pie crust. Meanwhile, the crisp flavours of apple, peach, pineapple and pear are refreshing against the dense root vegetable and gravy textures. These fruity flavours also draw out the subtle flavours that may have otherwise gone overlooked.