Pairing wine with a meat dish depends on the richness of the dish. The bolder the flavours in the food, the richer the choice of wine.
Sometimes a dish is enhanced by a wine that contrasts in terms of flavour or character, but for a meat dish the best pairing will be a wine that complements the dish’s aromas and character. For example, if you have a smoky BBQ flavour then a smoky red wine will make a great pairing.
Start with a simple rule – lighter or more delicate meat dishes go well with a medium-bodied wine like a Sangiovese (think Chianti) or a Pinot Noir. These two wines are especially good choices for lamb dishes as both wines have gentle spice notes that complement the fragrance in lamb. Specifically try an old-world or cooler climate Pinot Noir as they tend to be more fragrant with earthy notes, compared to the ripe fruit notes of warmer vineyards. A superb choice would be an Italian Pinot Nero from the Dolomite mountains such as Pojer & Sandri’s special cru Rodel Pianezzi made with Burgundy clones.
A less famous grape that’s perfect for lamb is Gaglioppo – found only in south Italy, specifically the Calabrian region, it is medium-bodied with complex aromas and a long dry character that pairs superbly with grilled lamb. Grab a bottle of iGreco’s 100% Gaglioppo called Cata or try this rare grape blended with Nero Di Calabria aka Nero d'Avola grown in Calabria (ideal for a heavier lamb dish, for example with a rich sauce) such as Masino.
Game dishes are often cooked medium-rare to rare, so these dishes pair well with more tannic red wines. Tannins in wine sometimes get a bad rep but they are essential to creating wines with complexity and ageing potential. Tannins are naturally found in red grape skins and seeds, as well as the oak used for barrel ageing most wines. Try duck with a Sicilian red from Mount Etna, usually 100% Nerello Mascalese grape, such as Pietradolce’s 100-point wine Etna Rosso Vigna Barbagalli made from ancient vines that have grown on the slopes of the volcano for decades.
If you’re looking for something to pair with a roast dinner, which usually means lots of different and rich flavours in one meal, pick a wine that can stand up to the power of the plate. We’d suggest a Bordeaux-blend, but one without the French price-tag – so look out for a delicious Italian red made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. For example, Trentino winemakers Pojer & Sandri have an outstanding choice called Rosso Faye, or for something really impressive go for the 100-point Guado De Gemoli from Chiappini of Tuscany.
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