Wine Pairing
Norwegian Smalahove
Dried and Salted Lamb Head

Lamb Head

Pairing Suggestions

Barbera (Italy)
Primitivo (Italy)
Valpolicella (Italy)
Zinfandel (USA)
Châteauneuf-du-Pape (France)
Bordeaux (France)

White Wine Alternatives

Dry Riesling (Germany)
Grüner Veltliner (Austria)
Pinot Bianco (Italy)


Smalahove (Smala = lamb, hove = head) is typical of Western Norway and consists of saltet, often smoked and boiled lamb head.

Fatty and salty Smalahove needs acidity to balance the fat and some residual sugar or concentration (well-ripen grapes) to contrast the salt.

High acidity is also important for the Norwegian typical side dishes such rutabarga and sauerkraut.

Best red wine pairing is all about fruit (fruit bomb), moderate tannins, concentration or some residual sugar.

Wine is relatively new in Norway, so the traditional, viking drink is beer and Aquavit.


Smalahove plays an important role in the Norwegian Cultural Heritage.

Smalahove was considered the everyday food of the poors in times when it was important to utilize all edible parts of the slaughter.

When the sheeps were slaughtered in the autumn, the head was the first part to be eaten, saving the finer parts for Christmas.

In recent years, Smalahove has become popular and festivals are arranged in the autumn, during the lamb slaughter season.

The city of Voss in Western Norway, near the panoramic fjords, is considered the home of Smalahove.

Smalahove is a viking food and Faroe Islands and Iceland share the same culinary heritage.

During the Viking Age sheep were important for their wool, used to make clothes and sails. And as vital source of proteins.