Top pairings | Wine and lamb: my 5 favourite pairings

Top pairings

Wine and lamb: my 5 favourite pairings

It’s tough to say what the best wine matches for lamb are - it’s served so many different ways and there are so many wines (mainly red) that work but here are my five favourites.

Bear in mind lamb is a slightly fattier, gamier meat than beef and carries spicing well - you’ll find lamb dishes all over north Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and India. But it can also be quite delicate and sweet - when served rare for example.

Here are the five I most commonly reach for:


The wine to go with more delicate lamb dishes such as rack of lamb served with spring vegetables, lamb noisettes or a spring lamb stew (See this report from the International Pinot Noir Convention a couple of years ago to see how ‘new world’ pinots performed against classic red burgundy)


Go to the Rioja region of Spain and you’ll invariably be offered a mountain of lamb cutlets cooked over smouldering vine cuttings - one of the most delicious examples of vineyard cuisine you’ll find anywhere. And a red Rioja reserva is the ideal partner.


If you’re serving your lamb Italian-style with garlic and rosemary reach for a bottle of Chianti Classico. Its fresh acidity offsets lamb’s slight fattiness perfectly - one of those matches which makes both the wine and food sing.


Another part of the world where lamb is a favourite, particularly in the Médoc. Again likely to be served simply with garlic. A red Bordeaux or similar blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot will offset it beautifully. (Also good with classic British dishes such as Lancashire hotpot and shepherd’s pie!)


Wines from the Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon are good for more robust lamb dishes such as braised lamb shanks, Moroccan tagines or other spicy stews and casseroles - even milder lamb curries.

For a longer list of options read Top Wine Pairings for Lamb

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Comments: 7 (Add)

Verg on May 4 2020 at 11:29

Roasted Lamb Shank Bone + Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico = yummy

Full pairing guide here

Doug H on April 16 2020 at 23:13

Norman Hardie Pinot Noir from Prince Edward County. Delicious!

TAMI on January 20 2020 at 22:23

Your pairing sound delicious.
I live in the Okanagan Wine Region of British Columbia Canada. Where we grow beautiful wine but our lamb comes from NZ. I have always found Cabernet Franc (and particularly that of Bench1775) to be a perfect pairing.

Nick Brett on January 19 2020 at 14:06

In Crete a couple of years ago, we did a trip into the mountains to “ have lunch with a shepherd”. A lamb was, er, sacrificed that morning and roasted on a spit over a fire. It was obviously the freshest lamb I’ve ever eaten! And to accompany it? “Red” wine that appeared to have been made in a bathtub. Surprisingly good. Apparently I fell asleep as soon as we got back on the coach and didn’t wake up until we got back.
That’s what I call a lamb dinner! I think.

Martha on October 28 2018 at 13:18

Crete, where I lived for 7 years, raises what many Greeks consider to be the best lamb in the country, so for special occasions I like some of the fresh spicy reds that are now coming down off the mountains of Crete. And, no, I wouldn't recommend retsina with good lamb, souvlaki, however.....

Victoria on February 1 2016 at 07:40

My favourite pairing is with Pure Mirabeau Provence Rosé. I thought the lamb, garlic and rosemary would totally overpower the posh pink, but it held up beautifully. The acidity providing an excellent balance.

Stefano (Trieste) on October 20 2014 at 14:18

I think the these are five good matchings.
Thanks Fiona for your precious suggestions!
I think that I'll choose chianti or pinot noir!

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