Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Braised Lamb Shanks and...sherry?

I'm not going to lie. I just spent the last 45 minutes typing some bullshit about pairing food with wine. It was horrible. Truly awful, deplorable, boring wine feature in your local newspaper type stuff. Now that this is safely deleted, never, ever to be seen again, let me summarize what had taken me way to long to articulate on this screen. I love wine. I enjoy drinking wine with food. But I really like wine without food and often need a break from the minutiae of picking an "appropriate" wine for the dish before me.

Last night I braised lamb shanks. It was a delicious, rich, wonderfully lamby (read: slightly gamey) braise made all the more interesting by the stock, lemon juice and fino sherry used for the piquant braising liquid, as well as the late addition of watercress to provide another counterpoint to the meat and potatoes. The result was a lamb dish that I believed would benefit from the right sparkling or white wine. Another version of this story, I suppose, might be that yet another night I was not in the mood for any of the reds in my house. While the Etienne Dupont "Triple" Cider, El Maestro Sierra Fino, Hidalgo "La Pastraña" Manzanilla Pasada and Bodegas Argüeso Amontillado were all very good wines, not overpowered by the lamb, they did not add anything, enhance, or complement the flavors in any way.

In the tradition of my colleague Brooklynguy's "You be the Sommelier" posts, I'd like to ask you what you would pair with this dish. It would be interesting to get some ideas from the more experienced food and beverage types out there.


spacewolf said...

From the less experienced and wine ignorant, I'd suggest a nice Belgian Triple or perhaps The Bruery's Saison Rue. Something bubbly, peppery, and just a bit of the tart funk.

larsmakie said...

As it so happens, I had braised lamb shanks for dinner Sunday night. They were a little more 'rustic' and heartier than yours seems to have been. The wine that went seemlessly with it was a '97 Clape Cornas. The shanks weren't too gamey which worked so well with the wine as it was fairly low key for a Cornas.

For your preparation, I wonder how a slightly oxidative white (Montbourgeau or Overnoy Savagnin perhaps) might work. Just a hint of nuttiness, but not too prominent. Or what about a Lopez de Heredia Rosé. That might be an awesome combo.

Tricerapops said...

not any means an expert or experienced in the matter, but my mind turned to whites with some heft - as i'm assuming the braise has a bit of acidity from the lemon and lift from the sherry? perhaps an auslese, gewurz or even a viognier? i admit i'm surprised the sherry didn't pair better in this case.

Joe Manekin said...


Good calls. Both not my favorites for their relative alcoholic heft (I can deal with sherry at 20%, but for some reason the tripels at 7.5-8% or so often seem hot to me) but hey I have a wimpy beer palate. With the dish, though, either of those may have been just the ticket. Though I'd opt for something with a bit less pepperiness and more tart funk, Jolly Pumpkin's first actual pumpkin beer, perhaps!

Tricerapops said...

i like larsmarkie's nod to oxidative whites.

Brooklynguy said...

Seem like such a cheapie, but what about a Lopez de Heredia white, or the rosado perhaps?

from that picture, I might even try a rich chenin, like a Cidaine Montlouis Clos Habert or Tuffeaux, something acidic but also full bodied and with a little RS.