Lamb is a wine merchant’s dream for food matching – it’s equally at home with the great classics of the old world such as Chianti and Rioja as it is with the bolder, fruitier styles of Southern Europe and the new world.
To get a truly memorable match though some consideration should be given to the age of the lamb, how you’re preparing it, and whether you’re adding any other dominant flavours. This will still leave plenty of scope for us to work within your preferences and this for us is the most important thing. If you like an elegant Pinot Noir you’re probably not going to enjoy a Bordeaux in the same way, however much it may be the ‘perfect match’ so take these guidelines and adjust for your taste!
Young lamb/ lamb served pink
Young lamb has a mild flavour, and if you’re using a short cooking process this won’t have the depth of slow cooked meat. Unless you’re adding a rich jus or gravy you could stay at the lighter end of your comfort zone. Pinot Noir would be our top pick, we’re big fans of Poderi Colla’s Campo Romano Pinot Nero £21.20 which has a wonderful savoury note. It’s not Burgundy but it’s rather elegant and lovely. If you’re keeping the dish light and full of delicate spring flavours you could even go as far as a decent rose, and if bubbles are in order (the answer is always yes in our house!) then Ferghettina Franciacorta Rose £30.50 would be a great match – it’s a serious vintage Champagne-style wine that really shines with food.
This is your classic lamb roast – it might be served a bit pink, but it has had a longer cooking time to allow more flavour to develop and it’s likely this is going to be served with a decent gravy. Now you can dial the wine up a notch – San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva £18.90 is a great choice if you don’t want to be too bold but a Bordeaux blend is generally what most people gravitate towards. For us, this means a supertuscan – we have quite a range in stock but Petra Hebo £18.90 is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend which is quite simply Bordeaux on steroids!
Slow roasted lamb/spice
Slow roasted lamb has a wonderful richness and a slightly gamey character which calls for a wine with a bit more age, such as Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino £46.80 which would be a fantastic, elegant match. Do pay attention to what you’re adding to the dish, for instance at home we use a fragrant spice rub on the lamb which means we’ll be looking for something with more richness – A decent Nero d’Avola or Primitivo wouldn’t go amiss here, such as Donnafugata’s Sherazade £15.50. If you’re using a decent whack of spice, or even firing up the BBQ then Poggio al Tesoro’s Mediterra £21.90 would be an absolute winner in our eyes.