What wine do you match with a Doner Kebab??

A few months ago I wrote an article about what to match with KFC. I’ve been meaning to continue the theme for a while now and when James and Matt asked me to write a piece about an unusual food and wine match for their excellent blog, #WineSwap, I knew exactly what the next subject should be… Doner kebabs!

This article appeared on their blog a while back – and please take a look because the #WineSwap quest is something you should try and get involved with… I became in link in their chain last year!


For many, the doner is only associated with forgotten memories after 10 pints on a Saturday night but I kid you not, I bloody love them. Sober! If you break a doner kebab down there are a few main ingredients to focus on in order to come up with a successful wine match…

Firstly, what is the mystery meat? Well, it’s not the offcuts and bits that no one really wants to think about, like most people assume. Good doner kebabs are (generally) made from slices of lamb leg and shoulder, which is seasoned with various spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric etc.) before being ground then compressed together with lamb fat to keep the whole thing moist. Yum!

Then there’s the salad and the accompaniments, namely the hot chilli and creamy garlic sauces.

Some useful guidelines for food and wine pairing are to match the flavour intensity of the food and the flavour intensity of the wine, and to pair fatty foods with high acid wines. So for our kebab companion we’re looking for big flavours and high acid.

Straight away I’m drawn to The Rhone – the high acid Syrah of the North and the bold spiciness of Grenache of the South. But don’t just limit yourself to the Rhone; consider the fab Shiraz of Australia and the wonderful Garnacha -based wines of Priorat in Spain (same grape, different name).

 But what about the sauces? I’m not so worried about the garlic but if spicy chilli sauce is your thing then remember to avoid high tannin wines; if you’re a heat hound maybe Syrah isn’t the choice for you but Genache still fits the bill nicely.

There is another option. A bit controversial maybe, but what about considering a white wine? With lamb, I hear you ask? Well, if you think about the fattiness and the heat, your dirty dinner could be screaming out for the razor sharp acidity of a Riesling or a Chenin Blanc. 

 So there we are, four wines I think will work really well with your doner kebab – drunk or sober! Or you could just stick to 10 pints of lager!

M&S Hunter Valley Shiraz 2011, NSW, Australia (M&S £9.99)

Huge ripe fruit, a hint of smoke and a touch of bacon fat. A big wine with good acidity and juicy ripe black, almost blue fruits and a delicious smoky flavour. (91 points)

E Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2010, Southern Rhone (Majestic & Waitrose £10.99 but look out for promotions)

Black cherry and dark plums with a beautiful waft of herbs de Provence on the nose – quite a bit of anise. This follows through onto the palate, where the spice and fennel come first, followed by very black cherries and very fine tannins. This is robust and delicious. (90 points)

Plantagenet Riesling 2011, Mount Barker, Wastern Australia (Whole Foods £14.99)

The label says lemon but this is pure lime juice. It’s so fresh and zesty, almost glacial in texture and bone dry, mouth puckeringly so! But then the acidity kicks in and the flavour goes on and on and on. I could drink this with a straw. Quite magnificent and great value for a wine of this quality. (92 points)

Domaine Vincent Careme Spring Sec, Vouvray 2010 (The Wine Society £9.95)

Honeyed nose with baked, even dried fruit. Some fig, spice and just a hint of oxidisation. Stewed apples on the palate, almost savoury note which reminds me a bit if scrumpy cider with a sprightly acidity. For under £10 the complexity is quite amazing. (90 points)

About Confessions of a Wine Geek


Posted on March 2, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Did you actually try any of your suggested wine pairings? Did they work?

  2. And you did all this without trying Pinotage?? Lamb, spiciness, hint of sweetness from the beautifully constructed side salad?

    • I don’t know sheer you go for your “beautifully constructed” side salad – I like mine just “thrown on as an afterthought”! I don’t think my palate could cope with all the flavours if the doner AND the Pinotage on top!

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