Lamb

Jukes Wine And Food Lamb

Red Bordeaux is, strictly speaking, the classic combination with roast lamb or lamb chops. However, reds from nearby Bergerac or Madiran and, further afield, Burgundy, South Africa’s smarter Pinotage and Shiraz, California’s Merlot, Australia’s Shiraz, Cab/Shiraz (The Great Australian Red blend – see my annual Report for joy on this website) and Cabernet blends, Spain’s Rioja, and Argentina and Chile’s Cabernets and Merlots are all in with a very solid shout. Keep the wine firmly in the middleweight division and you will do well. You could, of course, go bonkers on the price or stick within a tight budget, as lamb is less particular than beef or game. The way it is cooked, though, should influence your final choice. If cooked pink, the range of suitable wines is enormous (any of the above). If well done, then a fruitier style of red should be served, so head to the New World’s treasure chest, as lamb tends to dry out and it needs resuscitation. Watch out for gravy and mint sauce, as an abundance of either could test the wine if it is not forewarned. Lamb pot roast and casserole tend to be a little richer in flavour than a chop or roast lamb because of the gravy/sauce/jus. Again, don’t spend too much on the wine, as authentic Languedoc or southern Rhône reds or Aussie GSMs will do fine. Shepherd’s pie is incredibly easy to match to red wine. Just open whatever you feel like – if it’s red and wet, it will be spot on – a no brainer. Plain lamb shank is another relatively easy dish to match to red wine, with inexpensive European examples from Portugal, Spain, Italy and France all offering enough acidity and structure to cut through the juicy, mouth-watering meat. Moussaka, with cheese, onion, oregano and aubergines, is altogether different. Lighter, fruit-driven reds such as New World Pinot Noir or German and Romanian versions, inexpensive workhorses from Toro, Alto Duero or Campo de Borja in Spain, or cheaper South American reds will work well. Stews like navarin (with vegetables), Irish stew, cassoulet or hot pot all have broader shoulders when it comes to reds. Beefier southern French examples from Fitou, Corbières, St.-Chinian, Madiran, Faugères, Minervois or Collioure would be perfect. From further afield, Malbec from Argentina or Carmenère from Chile, as well as medium-weight, scented Aussie Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Grampians or Yarra Valley), would also suit these dishes. Cold roast lamb follows the same rules as cold slices of beef and, to a certain extent, ham in that fruity, light reds and juicy medium- to full-bodied whites work pretty well. Beaujolais, served cool but not cold, is a great partner, while Chardonnay in any of the following guises would augment the dish – try medium-priced white Burgundy, Chardonnay from Margaret River, Adelaide Hills or Yarra Valley (Australia) or Nelson, Waipara, Central Otago or Marlborough (New Zealand), or lighter South African and Chilean styles. Also, don’t forget proper manly Bandol and Provence rosés – they are such an underrated drink, especially with cold cuts. Lastly, kebabs, one of lamb’s most exciting and gastronomically enlightening incarnations whether you’ve lovingly marinated and skewered the meat yourself or just adoringly watched it being shaved off that elephantine mass of meat in a kebab shop. I suspect you’d struggle to balance a kebab and a goblet of wine while stumbling down the street after a late-night gig. But on the off chance that you make it home before tucking into the nuclear-hot dish, then a glass of big brand, sub-tenner New World Chardonnay or Semillon/Chardonnay would be a welcome break between mouthfuls, and not something you’d be too upset about having opened in the cold, stark light of a new day.