Note You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
One of my favourite food and wine memories of all time is arriving in the Ribera del Duero wine region in north-central Spain late one warm afternoon (lunchtime, Spanish time) and visiting a bustling family restaurant where slow-cooked lamb was the speciality of the house. The air was thick with the sound of chatting and laughter and the smell of sweet fat and garlic, and the wine on the table was the dark purple local red made from the tempranillo grape. This wine was joven or 'young' style: it hadn't spent much time in barrel (if any) before being bottled and was bursting with succulent, supple, gently tannic but rich fruit. And it tasted absolutely spectacular with the fragrant, garlicky richness of the meat. Ever since then, whenever someone starts braising a shoulder of lamb, I automatically reach for a bottle of young tempranillo - either Spanish or, increasingly, Australian. - Max Allen