Imagine a plate of succulent lamb shanks, their aroma wafting through the room—now, what could elevate this dish to the zenith of culinary delight? The answer, my friends, lies in the cradle of a glass, where the perfect wine nestles like a secret waiting to be discovered.

As a fervent advocate for the art of the feast, my fifteen-year dance with flavors has taught me this: the symphony of a meal hinges on harmony, and wine pairing is its maestro.

You’re here to uncover the elixir that will make your lamb shanks not just a meal, but a memory.

Together, we will decode the subtleties of tannins and aromatic wines, navigate through wine regions, and understand why full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon resonate with the depth of slow-cooked meat.

By the end of our journey, the enigma of what wine goes with lamb shanks will be no more. You will savor the confidence to host, to toast, and to boast of a pairing that’s nothing short of sublime. Let’s uncork the mystery.

What Wine Goes With Lamb Shanks

Wine Type Wine Varietal Tasting Notes Pairing Reason Food Preparation
Red Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Black currant, cedar, tannins Robust flavor complements the strong taste of lamb Roasted or grilled lamb
Red Wine Pinot Noir Cherry, raspberry, earthy Lighter red complements without overpowering the lamb Braised lamb
Red Wine Syrah/Shiraz Dark fruit, spice, smoky Spicy and smoky notes pair well with hearty lamb dishes Slow-cooked lamb shanks
Red Wine Merlot Plum, black cherry, herbal Soft tannins match well with the tenderness of the lamb Lamb shank stew
Red Wine Rioja (Tempranillo) Berry, tobacco, vanilla Oak aging and tannin structure stand up to lamb flavors Lamb in tomato-based sauce
Red Wine Chianti (Sangiovese) Tart cherry, earthy, tannic Acidic nature cuts through the lamb’s fattiness Lamb ragù with pasta
Red Wine Bordeaux Blend Blackcurrant, plums, licorice Complex flavors work well with rich slow-cooked lamb Slow-roasted lamb

Understanding Lamb Shanks

What are lamb shanks?

Before we delve into wine, let’s talk about the star of the show – lamb shanks. They are a part of the animal’s leg, just below the thigh and above the ankle.

Lamb shanks are often slow-cooked to achieve a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture. This succulent meat has a rich and intense flavor, which becomes even more delicious when paired with the right wine.

Different ways to cook lamb shanks

YouTube player

There are many mouth-watering ways to prepare lamb shanks. You can slow-roast them in the oven, stew them, or cook them in a slow cooker.

Some prefer to braise them in a sauce, allowing the meat to soak up all the delicious flavors.

Others grill them for that irresistible smoky taste. Each preparation method imparts its own unique flavors, and it’s a joy to experiment and find your favorite.

Nutritional value and health benefits of lamb shanks

Besides being delicious, lamb shanks are good for you too! They’re a great source of protein, essential vitamins, and minerals like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.

Plus, they provide healthy fats that are beneficial for your heart. So not only are you treating your taste buds, but you’re also doing a favor to your health.

The Art of Wine Pairing

Basics of wine pairing

The magic of wine pairing lies in balance. You’re looking for a wine that will complement the taste of your food, not overpower it. This means taking into account the intensity of flavors in both the wine and the food. A bold, full-bodied wine pairs well with strongly flavored food, while a lighter wine works better with delicate dishes.

Factors to consider when pairing wine with food

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to what wine goes with lamb shanks. There are several factors to consider. First, think about the flavors in the dish. Is it spicy? Sweet? Savory? Then, consider the richness of the dish. Is it a light, delicate dish or a rich, hearty one? The aim is to balance these characteristics with the wine’s body, acidity, and sweetness.

Importance of pairing wine with lamb shanks

Let’s circle back to lamb shanks. With their rich, intense flavors, lamb shanks need a wine that can hold its own. The right wine can balance the richness of the lamb, enhance its flavor, and make your meal an exquisite experience. From robust reds to some surprising whites, you’ll find there’s an exciting range of wines that pair wonderfully with lamb shanks.

Best Wines to Pair with Lamb Shanks

Alright, let’s get down to the fun part – picking the wine. Here’s a lineup of some of the best contenders when it comes to answering the question: what wine goes with lamb shanks?


Sangiovese hails from the beautiful rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy. It’s a medium to full-bodied red wine, packed with flavors of ripe red fruit, savory spices, and a hint of earthy tones. So why’s it a good match for lamb shanks? Well, the acidity in Sangiovese is just the thing to cut through the rich, meaty flavor of the lamb.

And the savory spice notes in the wine echo the herbs often used in lamb dishes. A match made in heaven!


Syrah, or Shiraz as it’s known in Australia, is a robust red wine known for its spicy and dark fruit flavors. It has an intense color and a full body, which makes it bold enough to stand up to a hearty dish like lamb shanks.

The wine’s dark fruit flavors and peppery notes add an extra dimension to the lamb’s robust flavor, making it a go-to choice for those who love a full-bodied wine.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, known for its delicate complexity, comes from the Burgundy region of France. It’s lighter in body compared to many red wines but don’t let that fool you. Its complex flavors of cherry, raspberry, and mushrooms, combined with its bright acidity, can balance the richness of the lamb shanks beautifully. It’s like they bring out the best in each other.

Primitivo (Zinfandel)

Primitivo, better known as Zinfandel in the US, hails from the Puglia region of Italy. This dark, juicy, and robust red wine is full of dark fruit flavors, making it a strong contender in the race of what wine goes with lamb shanks. Its full body and high tannin content can handle the powerful flavors of lamb shanks.

The rich, bold flavors in both the lamb and the Primitivo intensify each other, making every bite and sip a burst of pleasure.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Ah, Cabernet Sauvignon. This classic red wine, originally from the Bordeaux region of France, is known worldwide for its deep color, full body, and an alluring bouquet of flavors. It has high tannins and a mix of dark fruit and spice flavors.

The firm tannins in Cabernet Sauvignon make it a perfect match for rich, meaty dishes like lamb shanks. It’s a wine that can hold its own and then some!


Malbec, known for its plush texture and intense fruit flavors, originates from the Cahors region of France but has found a happy home in Argentina. The wine’s deep color, full body, and flavors of blackberry, plum, and a hint of cocoa create a stunning pairing with lamb shanks.

The rich, dark fruit flavors in Malbec marry well with the robust flavors of the lamb, enhancing the overall taste experience.


Riesling may seem like a curveball here, but trust me on this one. This versatile white wine from Germany can range from sweet to dry, and it’s known for its refreshing acidity and aromatic citrus and floral flavors.

The trick here is to go for a dry Riesling, which has the acidity to balance the rich lamb, and the bright flavors to complement its savory taste.


Bubbles with lamb shanks? Why not! Champagne, the iconic sparkling wine from France, brings a touch of luxury to any meal. Its high acidity and effervescence can cut through the richness of the lamb, making it a surprisingly good pairing. It’s a fun and unexpected answer to what wine goes with lamb shanks. So go on, add a bit of sparkle to your meal.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a zesty and refreshing white wine, most famously from the Loire Valley and Bordeaux regions in France and New Zealand.

Its high acidity, along with flavors of citrus and green apple, provide a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of lamb shanks. The wine’s herbaceous notes can also complement the herbs often used in lamb dishes.


Last, but certainly not least, we have Grenache. This red wine is originally from the northern region of Spain but is now grown worldwide. It’s known for its bold red fruit flavors, soft tannins, and a hint of spice. The wine’s fruitiness and spice harmonize with the savory lamb, creating a delightful balance of flavors.

Pairing Wine with Different Lamb Dishes

So, now that we know the lineup for what wine goes with lamb shanks, let’s talk about the different lamb dishes and how to find their perfect wine partner.

Lamb roasts and racks

YouTube player

For lamb roasts and racks, we usually have this beautiful, pink, juicy meat with an amazing herby crust. A medium to full-bodied red wine like a Syrah or a Cabernet Sauvignon can stand up to the strong flavors of a roasted or rack of lamb. These wines have the bold flavors and structure that can balance the lamb’s rich flavors and make your meal an event to remember.

Slow-cooked lamb and shanks

YouTube player

Slow-cooked lamb and shanks are all about that fall-off-the-bone tenderness and deep, rich flavors.

We want a wine that’s going to complement these robust flavors without overwhelming them. A Grenache, with its bold fruit flavors and soft tannins, can do just that. It adds to the lamb’s robust flavor profile, creating a well-rounded and satisfying pairing.

Lamb chops

YouTube player

For lamb chops, we’re dealing with a slightly milder flavor compared to other cuts of lamb. A versatile Pinot Noir, with its delicate, fruity notes and light to medium body, pairs beautifully with lamb chops. It enhances the tender meat without overpowering it.

Moroccan or spicy lamb

YouTube player

If you’re into Moroccan or spicy lamb dishes, you’re dealing with bold, complex flavors. A Primitivo (or Zinfandel, as it’s known in the US) is a great match. This robust red wine, with its juicy dark fruit flavors and a hint of spice, can handle the rich, spicy flavors of the lamb.

Recipes with Lamb Shank

Alright, we’ve talked a lot about what wine goes with lamb shanks, and now it’s time to get into the kitchen! Here are some incredible lamb shank recipes you can try out at home:

Red Wine Braised Lamb Shanks

In this dish, the lamb shanks are slow-cooked in a luscious red wine sauce until they’re tender and juicy. Pair it with a bold, full-bodied red like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah to match the intensity of the flavors in the dish.

Lamb Shank Tagine

This Moroccan-inspired dish has a fantastic blend of sweet and savory flavors, with lamb shanks slow-cooked with aromatic spices, apricots, and almonds. Try it with a full-bodied Primitivo, which can complement the rich, spicy flavors of the tagine.

Lamb Shank Shepherd’s Pie

A twist on the traditional Shepherd’s Pie, this recipe features tender lamb shanks in a rich gravy, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. This hearty dish would go well with a fruity Grenache, which can balance the robust flavors of the lamb.

Greek-style Braised Lamb Shanks

This Mediterranean-inspired recipe features lamb shanks braised with lemon, garlic, and herbs. Its bright, flavorful profile would go wonderfully with a vibrant, high-acidity wine like a dry Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc.

Lamb Shank Osso Buco

In this Italian-inspired recipe, the lamb shanks are slowly braised with vegetables, white wine, and broth until they’re fall-off-the-bone tender. Pair this with a Sangiovese for a true Italian dining experience, the savory spices of the wine enhancing the hearty flavors of the dish.

FAQ On What Wine Goes With Lamb Shanks

Can you suggest a red wine that blends well with the richness of lamb shanks?

The depth of lamb shanks yearns for a companion like a bold Cabernet Sauvignon. Its illustrious tannins drape over the meat, elevating each bite.

What’s a good wine choice if I prefer lighter reds?

Merlot is your friend here. With its subtly sweet notes, it sidles up to lamb without overshadowing the main act.

How about white wine with lamb shanks, is that a no-go?

Not at all. A full-bodied white, like an oaked Chardonnay, brings a bright twist to the table, cutting through the lamb’s richness.

Any wine pairing tips for lamb shanks cooked in a tomato-based sauce?

Tomato’s tangy profile begs for a Syrah—spicy and brazen, it complements the sauce’s acidity splendidly.

What should I consider when looking for a wine to serve with lamb?

Focus on the preparation. Herbs and spices in your dish should tango with the wine’s undertones. Consider also the wine’s body; it should match your lamb’s heft.

Does the wine’s region impact its pairing with lamb shanks?

Absolutely. Wines from Bordeaux or regions with similar climates often have the right character to stand alongside the robust flavors of lamb.

Are there any budget-friendly wines that pair nicely with lamb shanks?

Certainly! Look for red blends from lesser-known regions; they can surprise you with their adaptability and richness for a fraction of the price.

Could you recommend a wine for lamb shanks that will impress my dinner guests?

Impress with an aged Rioja. Its evolution in the bottle coaxes out a complexity that adds an unforgettable layer to your dining experience.

Is there an ideal serving temperature for wine with lamb shanks?

For reds, aim for slightly below room temperature—around 65°F (18°C). It helps the subtleties of the wine to unfurl gracefully with each course.

How does the cooking method of lamb shanks affect the wine pairing?

Slow-cooked or braised lamb shanks meld with full-bodied wines beautifully. The slow-release of flavors in the dish syncs with the intricate notes of a more robust wine.


So, we’ve uncorked the essence of what wine goes with lamb shanks and poured over the wisdom of pairing. Cabernet Sauvignon’s robust embrace, Merlot’s mellower whisper, each glass has a tale to tell alongside tender, herb-seasoned lamb.

Picture the scene: your table, laughter woven between the clinks of cutlery, a dish steeped in care, and in each hand, a glass mirroring the meal’s soul. This isn’t just about a sip; it’s about savoring a moment where flavors harmonize, memories are made, and every taste bud sings with approval.

What you take from this feast of knowledge is more than a pairing; it’s the beginning of countless meals transformed into experiences. Whether it be a family dinner or a special gathering, the key to a perfect match—be it a rich red or a surprising white—now rests with you. To your future culinary ventures, may they be ever flavorful and forever gratifying. Cheers to that!

Categorized in: