OPINION: It was an attention-grabbing headline in Yahoo News. "Three-fourths of people believe the rules of wine are intimidating".
There is something about the rich, gelatinousness of fall-off-the-bone braised lamb that demands the sort of wine that might include words such as "Bovril, beef tea or even forest floor" in the tasting note.
I came across an intriguing lamb dish by Sam Mannering in the Canvas section of the Sunday Star Times that encouraged me to break the "red wine with red meat" guideline. I had decanted a bottle of Malbac-dominant 2018 Esk Valley Heipipi The Terraces which worked reasonably well, but the fragrant aroma of coriander, spring onions, ginger and chilli had me raiding my wine cabinet in search for an even better partnership.
A zesty 2020 Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay, Wairarapa, out-gunned the Esk Valley red as did a 2020 Dry River Lovat Vineyard Gewürztraminer from Martinborough, although the latter wine verged on overpowing the dish. My favourite match was a crisp, off-dry 2020 Flaxmore Pinot Gris from Nelson which mirrored the sweet/sour notes in the dish and helped emphasise its gentle spiciness.
Slow-cooked lamb with chilli, soy, ginger and coriander is a great dish, made even greater with the help of a crisp and ethereal Pinot Gris.