What did you give up for lent? I gave up caffeine, sugar and bread. It was part of this regime I am partaking in with a bunch of lunatic warriors I started training with last summer. We swing Kettle Bells and do Crossfit challenges and all seem to share a slight addiction to pain, but with lots of gain. I can’t wait for my cup of coffee on Easter Sunday, served in bed ( hint to no one in particular ).
I was supposed to give up alcohol as part of it, but decided that coffee was enough of a sacrifice. I’m not super human, some times I barely even feel human, but that’s a different article. I do know that some people did give up the drink ( does wine really count? ) for lent. However, your day is nearly here. Easter Sunday will see you ready to enjoy a very nice bottle with the dinner. I am here to offer you guidance and support.
Easter offers a great excuse to trade up and enjoy the finer wines with your dinner. We will be closing the shop on Good Friday, so you’ll need to be in Thursday and Saturday to buy your special wines. While chocolate can of course be matched to wines with varying levels of success, I think lamb is a more suitable delicacy to pair up for that Easter Sunday dinner.
Lamb has some classic pairings that are already engrained in the wine vocabulary. There are a number of reasons for this. Going back thousands of years, to ancient Greece and into old France, Spain and Italy, the most popular meat was lamb. The sheep often grazed in the vineyards so the pairing was almost instinctive. Go to Greece (or even your local kebab shop) today and there is quite a lot of lamb on the menu. But add to this practicality, and the fact that the flavour of the lamb lends itself perfectly to wine.
I have my own favourite combinations when matching wines to lamb. It often depends on the cut of lamb and how it is prepared. If money is no object, then I would suggest a Pauillac from the Medoc region of Bordeaux. If your budget can’t stretch to a 1st growth Château Mouton Rothschild or even a 5th growth Lynch Bages, then there are plenty of substitutes.
There are lots of really good value Bordeaux wines out there and it is the dry tannic nature of the Cabernet Sauvignon that reacts so well with the lamb. In fact we just took in three new Bordeaux’s ranging from €11.99 to €13.99. But why Cabernet and why Bordeaux?
For some it is the minty herbal nature of Cabernet that pairs so well with the lamb, and others think this is a load of rubbish. Pinot Noir tends to show off different sides of the lamb, so if it is not overly lean, I think the Pinot Noir can offer some great flavours.
A good rule of thumb is that a chewier meat should be matched to a chewier wine, and by this I mean a younger tannic wine. The meat will make the wines seem smoother than they would be on their own. Other wines that go with Lamb for much the same reasons are Spanish Rioja’s and Italian Chianti or Sangiovese varieties. The really great news is that I have a huge selection of all of the above at all prices.
If you wanted to get some great value for your purchases and were willing to step off of the road a little and go to a region that is not quite as famous, you can really do well. I’m talking about swapping your Rioja for a Navarra or for a Valencia. Try a Tuscan Sangiovese instead of a Chianti. You’d be surprised how good they can be. One of my best wines is a humble Cotes du Rhone but it is made by the man who makes my Chateauneuf du Papes and it punches way above it weight. Grapes find their expression in both the place and the winemaker’s guiding hand.
For the white wine drinkers, I think you will be fine if you go with a heavier style wine. The Archange wine from Domaine des Anges is a perfect example of a full bodied oaked wine that would sit wonderfully with lamb. You could also try an oaked Chardonnay from Burgundy or possibly even the white wines from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s estate in Provence, Chateau Miraval. Brad and Angie have recently gotten involved themselves.
As mentioned the last time, we are finalizing plans for another wine course. This time we are looking at a few different options. We plan to repeat the classic 5 week course on a Thursday night but we are also looking at a slimmed down ½ day version, more than likely at the weekend.
Depending on interest, we have also investigated the possibility of some Magical Mystery Tours. This basically means a mini bus, a foodie destination with lots of wine to match. You do the drinking, we organize the driving. We can’t do it if we don’t get the numbers, so get in contact and express an interest ( if you have one ).
In the last article I mentioned Cheltenham and the few horses I chance every year. I’m delighted to tell you all that I ended up winning the Dalys Bar tipsters competition much to the horror of some of the more seasoned tipsters. I owe some of my genius selections to a Clonmel man living in Twickenham. Thanks Nigel.
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For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”.