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How to pair wine with lamb

While roast leg or shoulder may be a Sunday lunch favourite, steaks, chops, curries, tagines and kebabs are great ways to enjoy lamb too. When pairing wine with lamb, it’s important to think not just about the cut of the meat, but the dish as a whole. The way you cook it, plus the ingredients you pair it with, should inform your wine selection and our helpful guide will help you find the perfect bottle every time.

How to match wine with a roast leg or shoulder of lamb

There are lots of ways you can treat a leg or shoulder of lamb. If you’re opting for a traditional roasting method and serving with a rich gravy and roast potatoes then you’ll want a red wine with plenty of deep red and black fruit flavours, plus some spice from oak ageing. This intensity will stand up against the big flavours of your roast. Look for a Rioja Reserva or Chianti Classico.

If you’re giving your lamb joint a lighter treatment – think less gravy and more Greek-inspired with flavours of oregano and feta – you could get away with a lighter red like a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.

For a lamb dish that brings in the spicy flavours of North Africa, go for something in between - not too heavy and not too light - so look for wines with lots of red fruit notes, a younger Rioja like a Rioja Crianza, unaged Tempranillo or Merlot.

How to match wine with lamb casseroles and stews

Cooking classic lamb stew lamb casserole? A red like one from the Côtes du Rhône is a great choice and won’t overpower the dish. If you’re cooking lamb with Mediterranean veg like tomatoes, olives and peppers, go for a more robust red. Something soft and juicy, like a Douro, is a good choice for this sort of recipe. For a lamb dish with more of a North African or Middle Eastern vibe, with flavours of prunes and almonds, a wine match with a little more vanilla spice from oak ageing will go nicely. This Chilean merlot is a good example.

Lamb Casserole Dumplings1400x909

How to match wine with lamb pies and hotpots

Shepherd’s pie and lamb hot pot are without doubt, two of the most comforting British dishes. And when it comes to finding a wine match – much like a simple lamb stew – you don’t need a particularly complex red. In fact, you don’t need big juicy dark fruits or oak ageing at all. It’s best to keep it simple and look for light-to-medium-bodied reds with lots of fresh red fruit flavours like this South African Cinsault or Bordeaux Superieur.

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How to match wine with lamb tagines

Moroccan lamb and meatball tagines are a tantalising mix of dried fruit, warming spices and roasted nuts, which means you need a wine that can stand up to the flavours. A bold red from a warm climate, with spicy notes from oak-ageing is a good choice for this style of food. Look out for red wines from Sicily like a Nero d’Avola or an Italian Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, which boasts juicy black fruit flavours and savoury spice.

RFO 1400x919 Tagine

How to match wine with lamb curry

A good beer and lamb curry are always a good idea, but there are a few solid options if you fancy pairing it with wine. If the curry is hot, it’s sensible to avoid wines with a high-alcohol percentage as they can make it taste even hotter. Instead, look for something between 9 and 11 per cent, such as a Riesling  or Gewürztraminer. These wines also work well if the curry has some sweetness, like this Slow-cooked lamb and mango curry.

If the curry is milder, like this Lamb kofta curry and you want to go with a red wine, then look for something relatively light and fruity. This smooth Bulgarian Merlot is a good example.

Slow cooked lamb and mango curry recipe 1400x919

How to match wine with lamb chops and lamb steaks

If you’re serving simply prepared, grilled or roasted lamb chops, you want a wine with perfectly balanced flavour and body. Wines from southern France, northern Spain and Portugal are ideal. Look out for reds from Côtes du Rhône and the Douro in particular.

How to match wine with barbecued lamb and kebabs

Juicy, barbecued lamb benefits from the biggest and boldest red wine flavours – think lots of dark red fruit and some spicy oak-ageing. Look out for wines from Ribera del Duero, which have delicate spice notes, Pinotage with lots of spicy black fruit flavours, or a shiraz with red fruit and pepper spice.

Your quick guide to pairing wine with lamb

  1. Always consider the cut of lamb and how it will be cooked, as well as any other ingredients you’re pairing it with before matching a wine.
  2. If you’re cooking a classic lamb roast, go for a red with layers of flavour, like a rich Rioja Reserva
  3. Stews, pies and hotpots work well with medium-to-full-bodied reds like a Côtes du Rhône or Douro
  4. For a lamb dish with North African flavours, a more intense, oak-aged red, such as Nero d’Avola will add sweet spice
  5. Barbecued lamb can withstand juicy, spicy reds like shiraz

For more help on pairing wine with food read our helpful guide How do I choose wine for my meal by Charlotte Lemoine, Tesco’s product development manager.

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