Medium to heavy bodied reds that are fruit-forward, best pair with Lamb Shoulder or Leg of Lamb, where you have fatty cuts of meat that are full of flavour. The fruity nature of a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Rioja helps mask the gamy lamb flavours that not everyone loves. Meanwhile, Medium-bodied reds like Merlot or Zinfandel are best with Lamb Chops or Lamb Loin, where the meat isn’t as fatty, and the gamey flavour of the lamb is much more subtle.
Bordeaux Lamb Pairing
Bordeaux is a blended red wine that is meant to be incredibly food friendly for regional cuisine such as Lamb. While Bordeaux is often associated with some of the priciest bottles of red, there are many affordable options that will serve you well.
For roasted Lamb shoulder or leg, choose a Bordeaux that is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. Lamb Shoulder is full of flavour and texture that requires the grippy tannin bite of a Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux. The fatty nature of the Lamb Shoulder also tames the tannin in the wine, allowing the ripe red flavours to shine. Finally, Cabernet Sauvignon may have a subtle mint or menthol flavour, which heightens this pairing even further.
For Lamb Chops or Lamb Loin, we’d suggest a Merlot dominant Bordeaux. Lamb chops tend to be a little milder, and a Merlot dominant Bordeaux allows you to enjoy the subtle meat flavours, where a Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux might dominate the experience.
Zinfandel & Rack of Lamb
Zinfandel offers delicious jammy sweetness that won’t overwhelm the delicate and tender flavours of a Rack of Lamb. Instead, the silky flavours of a fruity Zinfandel mingle with the gamey flavours so you finish with both the lamb and the wine with each sip and bite.
When choosing a Zinfandel with a rack of lamb, choose one that is light to medium-bodied. Here you’ll find layers of cherry, raspberry, blueberry and plum flavours, along with hints of spice and licorice that will elevate the pairing to new heights. Bolder or old vine Zinfandels, which are sometimes called ‘fruit bombs’ are perfect with roasted lamb shoulder, shanks or lamb leg.
Vacqueyras Paired with Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Vacqueyras is a Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah based red from the Rhone region of France. You’ll typically find a Vacqueyras bursting with dark fruit flavours like black cherry or blackberry. You’ll also find herbal characters such as fennel, lavender and thyme, which add a little excitement to this pairing.
Vacqueyras rich, concentrated flavours stand up to roasted Lamb Shoulder’s intense flavour with the wine’s juicy acidity and firm, powdery tannin.
Reserva Rioja & Grilled Lamb Pairing
The main grape used in a Rioja is Tempranillo, which delivers dark fruit flavours and a balance of tannin and acidity. The reserva classification, means the Rioja has been aged in oaked barrels for a year. This oak imparts toasty notes that complement the charred flavours of grilled lamb. Meanwhile the dark fruit flavours of the wine help mask the gamy flavours of lamb that not everyone appreciates.
Australian Shiraz & Lamb
As there are more sheep living in Australia than people, it only makes sense that Australian’s would develop a wine that goes spectacular with lamb. With an Australian Shiraz, you have a fruity red wine with lots of spicy notes, such as pepper. As popular Australian Shiraz is bold, it’s best with flavourful cuts of Lamb like a Shoulder cut. For grilled lamb, or a lamb gyro, choose a Shiraz that is more refined and restrained.