Rack of Lamb and Zinfandel

Cabernet is lamb's classic partner, but the sweet figs in this port sauce make a delicious, jammy Zin an even better choice.

Perfect Wine Match
While Cabernet Sauvignon has long been considered the classic match with lamb, there's a better wine for this particular dish: a refined Bordeaux-style Zinfandel. A big, tannic Cab might be fine with the lamb by itself but would taste clumsy with this mildly sweet sauce. On the other hand, a full-bodied, high-alcohol Zinfandel would overpower the entire dish. A Bordeaux-style Zin offers the best of both worlds: the restraint to complement the delicate, gamey flavor of lamb and the deliciously jammy sweetness to go with the fig-port sauce. One such Zinfandel comes from Sonoma—Rancho Zabaco's 1999 Sonoma Heritage Vines bottling ($13), an elegant yet gutsy wine that also happens to be a great value. An even more polished example is one from winemaker Doug Nalle—the acknowledged master of graceful Zinfandels. His 1999 Dry Creek Valley ($27) is pure silk. And, if you favor Zins that are a bit more on the briary side, check out another Dry Creek wine, the 1999 Lambert Bridge bottling ($24). It's layered with flavors of black cherry, vanilla and black pepper.

- Tim Fish

PUBLISHED December 2001