Lamb Burgers are a little lighter in flavour than your typical hamburger but have a gaminess that begs for a fruity Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec, Spanish Garnacha, Baco Noir, or Zinfandel to mask the flavour. You want medium-bodied reds to cover up the gamey flavour, but you don’t want the wine to be too heavy or else it will overpower the complex lamb flavours.
Cabernet Sauvignon & Lamb Burger Pairing
Aside from its juicy flavours of plum and blackberry, Cabernet Sauvignon has complex notes of menthol, cigar box and pencil shavings. The fruitier notes of the wine help mask the gamey quality found in the lamb, while the minty and earthier notes of the wine complement the complex flavours found in lamb. As lamb is less flavourful (yet what flavours it does display are more complex), you’ll want to select a medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, so it does not overwhelm the delicate flavours of the lamb.
If your lamb burger is grilled, the spicy oak notes in a Cabernet Sauvignon will shine bright against the charred flavours of your burger. A young Cabernet Sauvignon may have some green notes, which will complement any aioli sauce accompanying your lamb burger.
Shiraz & Lamb Burger Pairing
A nice medium-bodied peppery Shiraz from Australia hits all the right notes with a grilled lamb burger. Again, you’ll want a medium-bodied Shiraz where the restrained flavours won’t overwhelm the tender but complex flavours. The perfect equation is to have the jammy blueberry flavours mask the gaminess, while the peppery spice picks up on the earth notes of the lamb. Additional notes of mocha, violet, licorice, plus a kiss of sweetness all make for a delicious pairing.
Merlot & Lamb Burger Pairing
A medium-bodied Merlot has plush flavours of cherries to mask the gamey flavours of your lamb burger. Meanwhile, notes of coca, smoke and mocha complement the grilled flavours of your lamb. Full-bodied versions of Merlot do exist and these won’t be as pleasant with lamb as they will overpower the complex flavours of the meat.
Zinfandel & Lamb Burger Pairings
Zinfandel is a fruity red wine that has delicious flavours of blueberry, cherry and plum, along with notes of spice and smoke. Zinfandel has moderate tannin to bite into the lamb protein, along with a high acidity to help wash the gamey flavours away. The acidity in Zinfandel will also go along great with any acidic condiments on your lamb burger, such as ketchup, pickles or mustard.
Similar to all the wines mentioned here, the fruity flavours of Zinfandel will help mask the gamy flavour of lamb while complementing the complex flavours of your burger with Zin’s smoky and spicy finish.
Garnacha & BBQ Lamb Burger Pairing
A Spanish Garnacha uses is the same grape used for Grenache. Garnacha is a medium-bodied red wine that is bursting with cranberry and black cherry flavours, which help mask the gamey flavours of lamb burgers. Meanwhile, the notes of anise, tobacco and Cinnamon complement the complex flavours of the meat. We’re going with a Spanish Garnacha in this instance as lamb is popular in Spanish cuisine, however, a US or French Grenache or a Grenache blend will be just as delicious.
I give most of these wines 3.5 stars out of 5 stars as there is a lot of variety to both the wine and your lamb burger. For example, some lamb burgers might be loaded with aioli sauce, onions and cheese, while other lamb burgers may be served plain on a bun. In all instances, you’ll have a delicious pairing, but certain styles of your wine may make the pairing even more delicious.