Wine and Steak Pairing – Perfect Matching
On the one hand, wine and steak pairings are obvious – red, of course! A bold red with tannins fits the bill for most steaks, but it’s a little more nuanced than that. Not all cuts of meat are the same, and so not all red wine suits a steak.
We already know that tannic wines leave your mouth feeling dry, which is perfect for steak. The intensity or amount of tannins ranges depending on grape varietal/thickness of grape skin and how long the wine has aged, with some expressions on the “soft” and “round” end of the spectrum, and others on the more “hard” and “astringent” side.
Younger reds tend to be more tannic, while aged wines have had the chance to mellow. With that in mind, we can say that a very tannic wine is best with a really chewy steak – the savoury fat in these steaks will cut right through that dryness. Conversely, a leaner steak does well with a big red that’s gentler in the tannin department.
Let’s get specific…
Pair lean cuts like top, bottom and tip sirloin as well as round roasts with wines like:
- New World Cabernet Sauvignon like those from California, Washington or Australia, which are fruity and soft with some acidity
- Pinot Noir and Gamay, which have thinner grape skins and thus less tannins than some varietals
- Argentine Malbec, which has a nicely rounded mouth feel and is quite earthy
- California Red Zinfandel – a big boded wine with some tannins, plenty of acidity and notes of dark fruit and spice
Pour something a bit softer when serving a lean steak like sirloin tip or bottom round steaks
Pair fattier, chewy cuts like filet mignon, porterhouse and ribeye with wines like:
- Cabernet-Merlot blends from Bordeaux, which will boast a lot of intense tannins
- Syrah from the Rhône Valley or cool climate Shiraz will have a fair few tannins, but with a couple of years under their belt, these are beautiful wines with a big, marbled steak
- Tempranillo, specifically Rioja Reserva, which has had some time to age and smooth out tannins, is a lovely medium-fruit wine with a chewy steak
- Nebbiolo, such as Barolo and Barbaresco from Northern Italy, are pricey but quite lovely with fatty steak – they are aged a minimum of 2-3 years, again allowing tannins to reduce and also adding complexity the wine
A strip steak is quite fatty, so something tannic like a young Bordeaux or Shiraz would make for a great matching
For more wine and food pairing ideas, check out the pairing section of our website here.
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