Cherry-glazed lamb chops are typically coated with a glaze that includes cherries or cherry preserves and vinegar or red wine. The finished dish pleasingly mixes sweet, tart and sour flavors pulled together with the rich meatiness of lamb. While these complex and contrasting flavors make for an enjoyable dish, side dish and beverage pairings can sometimes be difficult to match up.
The Basics of Pairing Foods
What to look for with any food pairing is either a taste that echoes a flavor component in the dish or something that introduces a new, but complementary element to the dish. Contrasting elements do not have to be flavors, but can be textures and even colors. For example, cherry-glazed lamb chops tend to have a sticky, juicy texture. You can add depth of texture by adding a drier element, such as a grain or pasta, or some crispness with a toasted bread or crispy greens. A pop of bright color on a plate contrasted against dark, rich colors of the glazed lamb can add visual appeal and a professional-looking appearance to the finished dish.
One tasty side to pair with cherry-glazed lamb chops is couscous. Couscous is a course, ground pasta made from semolina -- a type of wheat also used in various types of Italian pasta. Couscous is readily available in grocery stores and is easy and quick to prepare on the stovetop. The slightly nutty and neutral flavors of couscous pair well with cherry-glazed chops and can be used to “sop up” any remaining sauce from your plate. Another option to serve with the chops is grilled sourdough bread -- the slightly sour, bitter flavors of this grilled bread nicely picks up on the tart flavors from the sauce. For an impressive presentation, set a slice of grilled sourdough bread in the middle of the plate, then place two or three thin glazed chops leaning against the bread and top with a bit of additional glaze and some microgreens.
A pinot noir, especially a lively, fruit-forward, New World-style pinot bursting with intense cherry-fruit aromas and flavors, is a fine complement to this dish. For heavier cherry flavors, look for pinot noirs from warmer regions, such as Sonoma or the central coast of California. If you prefer a heavier, more tannic wine, opt for Nebbiolo. Wines made from this grape, traditionally hailing from Northern Italy, typically feature a tart cherry flavor along with allied red fruit flavors like strawberry and raspberry.
Probably the most obvious beer pairing with cherry glazed lamb chops is kriek lambic, a sour and sweet beer wild fermented with cherries. The flavor profile of these lambic beers can range from near sticky-sweet to mouth-jarringly sour. For pairing with this dish, opt for a kriek somewhere in the middle; avoid the sticky-sweet varieties that are likely to overwhelm your palette when paired with a cherry glaze. Other fine beer choices to pair with this dish include doppelbock, marzen, amber ales and nut brown ales.