Osso Buco is a rich, meaty and intensely flavoured dish that is perfect for taking the chill out of a cold winter’s eve. As such, we find it demands a red wine equally as rich and flavourful, especially wines that offer a bit of spice, fruit, and earthiness. Thus we’d suggest rich wines such a Barolo, Barbaresco, Super Tuscan, Malbec, Syrah, or Merlot.
Lighter reds, such as Pinot Noir, Chianti Classico, Barbera and Dolcetto, will pair up but are a little too delicate to stand up to the heavy flavours of Osso Buco. These wines can work, as they are high in acidity and will cut through the rich sauce, but the pairing seems to be one way. By one way, I mean, you only get to experience the flavours of the dish a little more, as all the subtle nuances of these lighter wines are crushed. If you do have more delicate sauce, these lighter reds might be able to stand up.
Amarone, on the other hand, tends to be a little too powerful for Osso Buco, although some consider this a classic pairing. I disagree, as I find the wine crushes the Osso Buco flavours, and you’re only really tasting the wine in this pairing. There are exceptions, in that there are lighter styled versions of Amarone out there, such as more traditional styles that feature dried fruit flavours on the nose. If you’d like to pair an Amarone and Osso Buco, go for something that isn’t too chocolatey or syrupy, and decant it a couple of hours before enjoying.
Barolo and Osso Buco
Barolo, and Barbaresco (as written about below) are the classic Osso Buco pairings. With its pale red colour, and scent of rose petals, Barolo looks like a darling ballerina when first poured. But be forewarned, this wine will kick you in the face. Expect deep fruit flavours of raspberry and cherry, along with cocoa, licorice and truffles. It’s this truffle flavour that meshes so well with the earthy flavours of Osso Buco. While the crushed fruit flavours refresh the palate with each and every bite.
Barbaresco and Osso Buco
Osso Buco tastes deliciously earthy and the earthy component of Barbaresco complements this component. Meanwhile the dark cherry, and crushed raspberry fruit flavors of the wine lighten and elevate the dish as the licorice and espresso flavours add depth. The harsh tannin in a young Barbaresco is also tamed by the heafty meat component of this flavourful dish.
Super Tuscan and Osso Buco
A Super Tuscan is a hard wine to nail down, as there are no strict rules. Basically it’s a wine from Tuscany that can use grapes that are not indigenous to Tuscany. For example, Tiganello, perhaps the most famous Super Tuscan, is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc (Sangiovese is the only grape indigenous to Tuscany).
Because different grapes are used, there is a certain amount of variety among Super Tuscans. For example, there are Super Tuscans out there that are 100% Merlot or wines that are a blend of Syrah and Sangiovese. So it’s best to get a recommendation from wherever you buy wine.
In general, however, a Super Tuscan that is a blend of Sangiovese and a tannin heavy wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah will work amazingly well with Osso Buco. Sangiovese adds a significant amount of acidity that saws through any rich sauces, while the firm tannin of the other grapes is softened by the protein aspect of the dish.
Furthermore, the refreshing fruit flavours of plum, cherry, blackberry or raspberry elevate the dish, while other notes of licorice, tobacco, espresso, white pepper and clove seal the deal to a fantastic marriage of wine and food.
Malbec and Osso Buco
An inky Malbec with black and red fruit flavours and firm tannin will hold up to the flavourful Osso Buco dish. With its pepper finish and liquorice notes, typical of an Argentinean Malbec, this pairing is further elevated.
Syrah and Osso Buco
A California Syrah often has dark cherry flavours that will lighten and enliven a hearty Osso Buco dish. A Syrah has a savoury component that echos the meaty character of the dish while adding a bit of its own personality. Full bodied, a Syrah will stand up to any rich sauces, bringing out the best in this hearty dish.
Trappist Beer and Osso Bucco
A Trappist style dark strong ale from Belgian is our number one favourite beer with Osso Buco. Here we have a beer with lots of malt and fruit flavours, a bit more bitterness, and sometimes a bit of sweetness to balance out the whole shebang. Osso Bucco with its dense, fatty, flavourful meat is easily tamed by the cutting power of this high alcohol beer. Roasted malt flavours match the flavours of this braised dish, while raisin, prune and dark spice flavours brighten each bite.
If the Osso Buco has a more delicate sauce, take it down a notch with a Dubble, or a Doppelbock. Here you still get the wonderful fruity/spicy flavours of a Trappist Beer, but not as assertive in that it will crush the wonderful sauce.
Do you have a favourite Osso Buco and Wine Pairing? Let us know in the comments below!