Some of my colleagues make careers out of matching wine and food. Good on them but I have to admit that some of the refined intricacies of matching precisely the right wine with a particular dish passes me by.
There may be a new complication of wine and food matching if the practice of grazing sheep in vineyards becomes widespread. It may, also be a confirmation or denial of the existence of terroir.
Here are a number of reports on the practice and practicalities of putting sheep in vineyards to keep grass and weeds under control as well as some limited leaf plucking.
Goats can also be used, although they may be more difficult to train than sheep. Because of the amount of chèvre made in Touraine goats may be a better option in Touraine, where many vineyards are blighted by the heavy use of herbicides. Geese are used at the Clos Cristal in Saumur-Champigny.
Apart from training the animals etc. from eating the vines and grapes, the crucial question is to what extent the characteristics of the terroir where the animals graze, as well as the grape variety, is detectable in the taste once the grazing animal has been cooked. The principle is already well established with salt-marsh lamb, so it is reasonable to assume that lamb, for instance, that grazes amongst the Cabernet Franc of a Bourgueil vineyard on the limestone coteaux will taste different from one that grazes on Sangiovese in a Chianti Classico galestro vineyard.
Of course this must be an important consideration when deciding what wine to pair with your vineyard grazed lamb…