Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Julip Made wine pairing lamb2 This wine pairing series will break down the basics of food and wine pairing primarily by protein and then to the more difficult pairings.  When you first start drinking wine, typically you know if you like red or white wine, maybe sweet or dry too.  As your palette develops, you start to get a sense for the more subtle complexities that the phenolic compounds add and you begin to understand if you like like dry richness that a wine with a lot of tannins provides.  Maybe you develop an affinity for the jammy Syrahs or if you are like my father, a love of the smooth tannins and ripe fruit character of a good Brunello.

As far as wine pairing goes, you might know that white goes better with fish and robust reds with game, but the subtle complexities of food and wine pairing develop over time with the experience of trial and error.  I am just starting to learn these complexities.  Thankfully, I have my own personal expert... my father, a true gourmand and wine scholar.  If you need proof of his experience, just eat one meal cooked by the man, peek your head in his wine cellar, or watch him interact with the owner at our local wine shop.  He had graciously offered to teach me and you all via this series the basics of wine and food pairing. To start off roast lamb (served with Brussels sprouts and buttered rutabaga).Julip Made wine pairing lamb
From the expert...
For a light roast lamb with brussels sprouts and buttered rutabaga, a medium body red is a good choice. I’d stay away from a thick and tannic red such as you would serve with steak or spicier meat or pasta dishes, or a light red like a pinot noir or zinfandel which won’t hold up to the strong flavor of lamb, especially if roasted with garlic and herbs as is usually the case.

Here are three wines to choose from in the medium body range:
  • Barons De Rothschild Winery’s Bordeaux Controlee Reserve Speciale 2010 is a great buy in a great year for a great, classic Bordeaux. The Merlot and Cabernet Franc in this wine cuts the richness of the Cabernet Sauvignon to give it a nice balance. 
  • Santa Cristina 2010 Toscana is also a blend, but this one’s from Tuscany from the Antinori vineyards, primarily made from Sangiovese grapes (as are all Chianti’s) but with a nice fruitiness and complexity coming from the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. 
  • The third option is a 100% Tempranillo grape from Spain – in this case from the Dacu Winery in the Ribeira del Guadiana region, a less well known Tempranillo region of Spain than the more popular Rioja and Ribera del Duero. It’s a little lighter but with a nice fruitiness and balanced acidity to cut through the lamb. 
We chose the Santa Cristina for its soft structure yet rich fruitiness and complexity. The wine is ruby red with purple highlights. The aroma is soft yet ample enough with notes of berries, cherries and currants. The initial sensation is soft and balanced. The finish is characterized by the fullness of the tannins and by a persistent fruitiness, which makes it easy to drink. It will not keep for more than a few years and does not need much airing so open the bottle no more than 15-30 minutes before serving.

Thank you Dad for the lesson.  Please e-mail me if you have a specific wine pairing question or topic you'd like to see covered in this series.
PS. This would make a FANTASTIC meal and wine for a Father's Day Dinner!


  1. Yum. Oh my gosh I can't wait to have a glass of wine when I'm not pregnant!

  2. I love that you brought your Dad in! My Grandpa started a vineyard when he retired and he is my expert source. He was in charge of the bar and wine options at my wedding.

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