ASK THE EXPERT QUESTION… TO SOMMELIER TODD BRINKMAN
“I am preparing a rack of lamb tonight for dinner.
What kind of wine would pair well with lamb and why?”
The first thing that comes to mind with big and gamey red meat is a big red with spice and game notes… Syrah/Shiraz. Syrah and Shiraz are the exact same grape varietal with separate names based on where it is grown. In France and most US cities, it is called Syrah. Australia and South Africa call it Shiraz. This is a robust and full-bodied red that traditionally has a rich earthy and gamey streak that is often described as cigar, tobacco and dried meats (I love beef jerky).
Next, what is your preference and price point? Old world earth and funk, you have to go to the home of Syrah the Rhone Valley of France. Affordable options look to the Southern Rhone where it is blended with Grenache and other varietals. A good Cotes du Rhone runs in the $15 to $25 range. An upgrade is Chateauneuf du Pape and is my favorite with lamb dishes. A great treat is with a Northern Rhone like Hermitage or Cote Rotie, pricey but brilliant.
New world fruit and vibrancy, you have Australia and the US as the benchmarks. I love the value still coming out of Australia for great Shiraz in the $10 to $30 range. Molly Dooker and Mitolo are two great makers year in and year out. My personal favorites for a treat that is a bit more expensive include Cayuse
or Bionic Frog out of Walla Walla Washington, L’Aventure or Booker out of Paso Robles and Torbreck out of Australia. Most are difficult to find, but as good as they get.