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Wine and Food Wednesday
Take The Lamb Chop, Please—And Bring Me A Red Wine

By Charles Olken

I have a soft spot in my heart for lamb chops. They were one of the few foods that my sainted mother could cook really well, and, my sainted wife, well, she cooks a lot better than my mother and she too cooks lamb chops really well.

You might think that lamb chops are an easy food to match with wine. They are red, rich and juicy, and if you look closely enough, every producer of red wine, save perhaps those who make sparkling Shiraz, will put lamb somewhere on their lists of highly recommended food to go with their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel, Chianti and Chinon, Lemburger and Lagrein.

But, in those recommendations, if you look closely enough, you see the nub of the problem. If a lamb chop goes with everything, then nothing it goes with stands out. And wine geeks like me, when we are sent to our cellars by our sainted wives to get something to serve with the lamb chops, are confronted with a mountain of choices and not one of them is any better than any of the others. That is not good, not good at all. Wine and food does not work that way. There must be some really good, better than the others, choices that are totally classic and push all others to the sidelines.

And so, I have gone in search of the single most outstanding lamb chop and red wine combination. It is a daunting task—this business of eating lamb chops three meals a day for weeks on end. Why could not have the problem been oysters and wine or caviar and wine or fois gras and wine? I like lamb chops as much as the next guy, and, did I mention that my sainted wife cooks them really well? The quest is on. The challenge has been taken up.

Tonight for instance, I drank sixteen different Pinot Noirs with my lamb chops. I did spit most of it out, of course. I am a professional after all. But I must confess, I did like the Adelaida Estate Pinot quite a bit with my chop, and the Belle Glos Taylor Vineyard rated right up there as well. But the wine of the night with the lamb turned out to be the Wesmar 2008 Balletto Vineyard. It was an easy choice when you get right down to it. It was the most expensive wine on the table so it won.

Oh, sure, you are about to say something like “there he goes again” or “don’t be facetious”. Well, you’ve only yourselves to blame. You should never have let me begin-—not unless you have the answer to the question. Well, do you?


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by TomHill
Posted on:8/31/2011 9:51:35 AM

Hmmmm, Charlie. I think you may be overthinking things here.

I, too, think lamb chops are absolutely great. And I didn't discover that until I got away from my Mother's pretty miserable cooking.

   And I think we should count our blessings that lamb chops go so great with so many different wines. Your quest for the "perfect" lamb chop/wine match may be a bit quixotic...but I applaud the journey. Do you need a SanchoPanza  to help you out????



by Thomas Pellechia
Posted on:9/1/2011 6:55:52 AM


Or, for a truly avant guarde answer: Gewurztraminer

Lamb Chops
by Chuck Edelman
Posted on:9/1/2011 1:49:09 PM

My mother was not interested in cooking but made excellent lamb chops. Which may explain my continuing fondness for them.

The perfect match of lamb chops and wine for me was at a small restaurant in Viana, Spain. For lunch the proprietor recommended the baby lamb chops and a bottle of Artadi Pagos Viejos Rioja. Perfection.

My mouth still waters when I think of that meal.

Lamb Chops and Wine
by Steve Glass
Posted on:9/2/2011 3:20:00 PM

An otiose discussion, to be sure.  Nonetheless, some of the best grilled lamb chops I've ever eater were served at the Remelluri Winery in Spain ... with a fine Tempranillo, of course.  Ever since then, it's been Tempranillo and lamb chops for me.

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