03 Apr 2024

Tasting Table

The Best Wine Pairing For Juicy Lamb Chops

By Autums Swiers

Nailing the wine pairing can be all it takes to elevate your dining experience — and few dinners are as inherently elevated to begin with as Frenched, pan-seared lamb chops. Lamb’s tasting profile can fall somewhere between game meat and beef: tender, high-fat, and mineral-dense. But, the proverbial “cream of the crop” is the lamb chop, the best and most tender cut from the top part of the back attached to the ribs, aka “the rack of lamb.” These chops have “chops” of their own, boasting the mild-yet-rich flavor that gives steakhouses in Midtown Manhattan the agency to charge $80 a plate. Luckily, for the rest of us, lamb chops aren’t too tough for discerning-palated foodies to make well at home, and we have a few tips to help with that.

Thanks to lamb chops’ delicate flavor and texture, a softer wine can make a good fit for completing the meal, but it must retain a powerful body. A good wine should be able to stand up to the richness of the lamb without competing with it. With all of these factors in mind, my top two wine picks for pairing with lamb chops are both French: mature Bordeaux and Grenache-based Provence Rosé. As a career bartender, my secret hope is that the gastronomic glamor of the lamb-chop-rosé pairing is enough to deflate elitist rosé haters once and for all … or something like that. Shooting for the stars here, but no less passionate.

When you think of lamb chops, red wine probably seems like the natural pairing, but a chilled rosé can be just as delicious and impressive. Don’t get it twisted — rosés are often confused with blush wines, which are always sweet; rosé and blush wine are not the same thing.

Rosé can be brighter and more refreshing than many white wines, with perhaps the exception of sweeter varieties like riesling. However, this sweetness is not always welcome when pairing wine and food, and it would be less-than-remarkable alongside a lamb chop dinner. Rosé is the best fit for the job because it retains that refreshing brightness and delicate effervescence that prevent the entree from sitting too heavily while also retaining a dry, pungent flavor profile (not to mention that the pink hue of the wine would look aesthetically stunning beside a platter or perfectly pink lamb chops).

Opt for a Grenache-based Provence Rosé, like dry, smooth Chateau d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel (about $26)… To finish the dinner, pair your lamb chops and rosé wine with subtler, brighter sides like creamy polenta, mashed celery root, pesto-inspired mint chimichurri, Niçoise salad, assorted capers and green olives, or a spread of soft cheeses.