Sometimes, but not always, I lean more toward drinking white wine. Lately, a glass of white wine is in my hand. Maybe it’s the sweltering temperatures many of us are coming off of from the month of July. When Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles challenged the Wine Pairing Weekend group of writers to create “Unexpected White Wine Pairings,” I was ready to mix up my go-to white wine and food pairings with something more unexpected.
Curry Lamb paired with Viognier makes perfect sense as a food and wine pairing. At first thought, lamb would suggest a red wine pairing—something like a Syrah. As the wine pairing “experts” say, it’s not just the ingredients in a dish that drives the pairing, but also cooking methods and sauces.
Why Lamb Curry Paired with Viognier Works
Viognier is known for its luscious aromas of peach, apricot, nectarine, honey, musk, tangerine, citrus blossom, violet, acacia, cardamon, and minerals. In comparison, curry is a blend of fragrant spices like ginger, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Viognier and curry make for delicious aromatic pairing partners.
The cooking method of braising the lamb develops layers of flavors and a rich texture that matches the round body and mouthfeel of a flavorful Viognier.
My Wine Tasting Notes
2019 Michael Shaps, Viognier, Virgina
13% abv | $30.00 (2021 current vintage) Michael Shaps | 93% Viognier and 7% Riesling
100% stainless steel and aged 7 months
405 cases produced
Pale yellow in color. On the nose fresh inviting aromas of citrus, floral, and a hint of anise. On the palate medium body and acidity. Notes of citrus, nectarine, and anise. A clean tasting balanced wine.
2020 Maison Les Alexandrins, Viognier, France
13% abv | $15.00 (2022 current vintage) wine.com | 100% Viognier
Vin de France – vines at altitude mainly on the Coteaux d’Ardèche
100% stainless steel
Pale straw in color with a green hue. On the nose aromas of lemon-lime, pear, peach, and minerals. On the palate medium(-) body and acidity. Notes of pear and Meyer lemon with an unpleasant taste in the finish.
2018 Domaine Chirat Condrieu “Les Chays,” Viognier, Northern Rhône France
13.5% abv | $67.00 Total Wines |100% Viognier
Vineyard soils are 50% granite with biotite and 50% granite with muscovite
Hand harvested and whole bunch pressed
Barrel fermented with no malolactic fermentation
12 months of oak aging; 50% 500 L barrels, 50% 25 HI Austria Fouder and 10% new oak
Medium yellow in color with a hint of gold. Beautiful aromatics leap from the glass; honey, peach, ginger, tangerine, and a hint of mint. On the palate medium/medium(+) body and medium acidity. Floral notes with peach, apricot, acacia honey, ginger, and a hint of bitter orange and mint. A delightful example of French Viognier from the Northern Rhône.
Which Viognier did I like the best with the lamb curry?
Viognier’s grape variety has a general taste profile, but where the grapes are grown and how the wine is vinified can result in very different wines.
Domaine Chirat Condrieu was my clear favorite with the lamb curry. The wine’s aromatics and flavors are layered and complex, and the fermentation and aging in oak of different sizes and ages results in a fuller and richer mouthfeel. These nuances contribute to making this my perfect pairing.
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch pieces, and removing excess fat
- kosher coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium white onions, thinly sliced
- 2-inch size pieces of ginger, skin removed and finely chopped
- 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper flakes, medium hot
- 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, grated
- cilantro, chopped - optional
- In a large heavy dutch oven with a cover ( I used a Le Creuset pot), heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the lamb - working in batches so the meat is not crowded. Adjust the heat as necessary to avoid burning the meat. When the lamb is browned on all sides about 10 minutes per batch, transfer to a platter with a tongs or large slotted spoon . Immediately season with salt and pepper. Repeat until all the lamb is browned, adding more olive oil as needed.
- Leave the remaining fat in the pot and adjust the heat to medium. Add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Stir the onions around to coat with the oil and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits from the meat. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the onions take on a golden color.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and Aleppo pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add the lamb and any juices back to the pot, stir to combine. Add the yogurt, grated apple, and 1 cup of hot water, stir again to combine. The liquid should just cover the meat. Cover the pot and simmer gently for about 1½ hours or until the lamb is fork tender.
- Serve the lamb curry with Basmati rice and a French bistro carrot salad. Optional, garnish with cilantro.
French Bistro Carrot Salad
- 4 small/medium size (about 1 lb. total) carrots
- 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons mild extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- Grate the carrots using a box grater or the grater attachment of your food processor. You should yield 3½ cups of grated carrots.
- In the salad bowl you plan to serve the salad from, whisk together the vinegar and salt. Add the cumin and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the grated carrots and toss them in the dressing. Mix in the cilantro and finish with freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate covered for up to 8 hours.
More “Unexpected White Wine Pairings” from the Wine Pairing Weekend Group
David of Cooking Chat Shares “Grilled Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and White Wine”
Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator shares“Yes, Sparkling Whites from Mendo’s Scharffenberger and Marche’s Mai Sentito Pair with Pizza!“
And Susannah with Avvinare shares “Pinot Grigio from Valadige and Shrimp with Green Sauce“