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May 8, 2009 12:19 PM

Pairing for lamb with artichokes

I am braising a lamb shank with artichokes tomorrow and am looking for a wine pairing recommendation. The recipe is roughly this one but without dill, and possibly some white wine mixed in the stock.

Usually I would pair a pinot noir with lamb, and perhaps a sauvignon blanc with artichokes, but I can't think of anything that would fit that combo of flavors well. Can the pinot stand up? Any other ideas?

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  1. Lamb is likely the easiest food to pair. For a braised shank, really any of your favorite big red wines will do.

    My favorites would be any Rhone wine, north and south, a Tuscan sangiovese with some age, or a big New world pinot noir.

    1. This dish is basically the classic Greek dish of lamb with artichokes and avgolemono sauce without the using eggs as a thickening agent. Because of the artichokes,lemons and dill any red wine would be a disaster with this dish. The artichokes will make red wine taste metallic and sweet. My first choice would be a very simple Greek white like Boutari Las du Roches or even Roditis. If you'd like to move it up a notch you could try Sigalas Santorini Asyrtiko or try to find an oak fermented Moschofilero. If you're really open minded you could go with Retsina which is either white or rose fermented with Aleppo pine resin.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

        Not sure how much Greek wine I'd have access to on a day's notice. Any other suggestions for more common stuff? I'd imagine the reasons why arni me aginares is served with boutaris/retsina are cultural rather than enological.

      2. Since I don't believe in rigid wine pairing rules, I'd say try the pinot, but look for finesse and balance and avoid high alcohol, oak-driven bruisers.

        Young, quality chianti, barbera or dolcetto could be a nice matches as well.

        People will jump all over the fact that the acid in artichokes, cynarin, sometimes alters the taste of the wine making it sweeter, but that reaction varies based on the person/palate and it's short lived.

        My POV is if the food is good and you're drinking a wine you like, there's no issue.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vinosnob

          Late harvest zinfandel, with high alcohol and significant residual sugar.

        2. I think Vinny's analysis is bang on. The meat will no longer be red and is likely to be matched, if not dominated, in intensity by the artichokes and lemon juice. A white with body and acidity would be one route. A dry rosé with presence (Bandol, Tavel, Corsica) would be another. If red it must be, go for something inexpensive, dry, medium bodied, not strongly tannic and with flavours more savoury than fruity (a Sardinian Cannonau or Monica, for example).For me, the flavours thing would rule out a Pinot Noir. But, then again, I don't think of the Burgundian-style PNs I prefer as being natural partners for lamb. YMMV.

          2 Replies
          1. re: carswell

            Thanks for the endorsement. I certainly agree that a dry rosé tends to work with most anything. A chunky, fruit forward Corbieres rosé might be quite nice. Cannonau is an interesting choice and I think Sardinian Vermentino could be interesting as well. Another track would be to go with something slighty oxidized like a Languedoc "rancio" white or most Turkish and Lebanese whites.

            1. re: carswell

              I went with a Tavel and it worked! Thanks!