Every year, as Easter Sunday approaches, we in wine shops across America field the two big questions: What should I drink with my ham? And what should I drink with my lamb? Here at Oakland Yard, we have a great and well-practiced love of both dishes, so we’ll have many a field-tested answer at the ready.
Lamb is such a rich and savory meat that nearly any red wine will taste good beside it, but if it is strongly seasoned, or grilled to a char, then a full-bodied, somewhat tannic red is best. Eric Asimov and Florence Fabricant suggest California red blends, Bordeaux, and Bandol as ideal lamb pairings. In Ribera del Duero, lambs from the local Churra sheep are roasted in a brick oven, and eaten with earthy Tempranillo.
In the bay area, we’re fortunate to have access to some amazingly delicious, locally raised, milk-fed lambs in springtime, from farms like the James and Watson ranches; and the roasts they provide are so mild in flavor, that I prefer to eat them with a lighter, less tannic red, like California Gamay, or Beaujolais.
A baked ham, too, allows for many pairing options, but its predominant sweet and salty flavors are best accompanied by a fruit-forward wine with at least a touch of sweetness. Sommelier Roy Salazar recommends California Pinot Noir with ham; others say a light rosé, a rich Alsace Pinot Gris, or a juicy German Riesling.
My dear vegetarians will find these holiday traditions challenging in ways unrelated to wine pairing. I am sympathetic to your cultural upstream swim and assure you we have plenty of wine here that will make your vegetables sing sweetly as well.
Whatever you’re cooking this weekend, we’ve got the perfect wine for the meal.
Come taste some of our favorite ‘ham-or-lamb’ wines today from 4 to 8pm.
2015 Marc Plouzeau Touraine Sauvignon Blanc
2015 Ransom Willamette Valley Auxerrois
2015 Leitz Rheingau Riesling
2015 Domaine des Hautes Noelles ‘Heho’ Rouge
2015 Broc North Coast ‘Love’ Red
2014 Domaine la Blaque Rouge de Provence