Steaks are probably the most popular cuts of meat. They come in many different styles, and you can prepare them in various ways. While it might sound common to pair a good steak with a cold glass of beer, it’s also possible to enjoy it with wine. And some steak and wine pairings are incredibly delicious.
What Is the Best Wine to Pair With Steak?
As a general rule, you should pair your steak with red wine. You need a wine that is bold enough to stand the fatty and meaty richness of the steak. But it shouldn’t overpower the dish with too aggressive tannins.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a versatile option that matches most types of steak. But depending on your specific preparations, other wines might be even better matches. To learn the basic rules about pairing steak and wine and the best wine pairings for specific steaks, keep reading.
What Is Steak?
Generally, a steak is a slice of meat cut from the muscle fiber. Depending on the cut, it can be either fatty and chewy or very lean and tender. And in some cases, it contains a bone.
While a steak can come from basically any animal, including boars, chicken, turkey, bison, or deer, most people refer to beef when using the term. In this article, we will focus on beef steaks and the best wines to pair with them.
Basic Rules for Pairing Steak and Wine
When looking for the best wine to pair with your steak, you have to consider the type of steak and the seasoning, sauce, and side dishes you serve with it. Follow these rules to get a better idea of the wine that matches your steak best:
- Red meat goes with red wine. That is true for beef cuts like steaks, too.
- The fattier a steak is, the more body needs the wine to stand it. So fatty steaks go with full-bodied wines, and lean steaks go with light-bodied wines.
- Acidic wines help clean your palate after a bite. Especially for fatty steaks, these wines are the right choice.
- Very tender steaks can be great with white wines. They shouldn’t be too light, though. Go for a full-bodied white, preferably from the New World.
- High-tannin wines are the right pairings for bloody (rare) preparations. If you prefer your steaks medium to well-done, low-tannin wines are better.
- In case you like your steak charred, you need a ripe wine with some sweetness. Go for a New World wine instead of one from the Old World.
More Details on the Two Worlds of Wine: COMPARING OLD WORLD WINE VS. NEW WORLD WINE
- If you serve your steak with a creamy sauce like Bechamel, pair it with a full-bodied white wine.
- Sweet and fruity sauces bring out the acidity in a wine. Thus, you should pick a low-acidity wine to match them. Otherwise, the perceived tartness of high-acidity wines would ruin the meal’s flavors.
- Dark sauces with mushrooms are great with fruity wines. The combination of both creates a delicious contrast of earthy and fruity aromas.
- You can create another exciting contrast by pairing spicy seasonings and sauces with sweet wines.
With these rules in mind, finding the right wine for your steak is much easier. Nevertheless, let’s discuss some specific wine pairings for the most popular cuts of steak.
Ribeye Steak and Wine
A ribeye steak comes from the cow’s ribs. In many cases, it’s served with the bone still attached. It’s highly marbled and has a big layer of fat. These characteristics make the ribeye one of the richest and most flavorful cuts of steak. The easiest ways to prepare it are grilling and pan-frying.
To cut through the ribeye’s fattiness, you need a full-bodied wine that is high in tannins. A wine that matches this requirement is Cabernet Sauvignon. No matter of the seasoning, it pairs superbly with the flavorful, savory steak. Another great option is Zinfandel. Its spicy and fruity flavors create a great contrast with the meaty cut. Last but not least, you can try a Syrah wine. If you like a paprika-based seasoning for your steak, you can also pair it with an aged Bordeaux.
Filet Mignon and Wine
The Filet Mignon is an expensive cut from the thicker end of the cattle’s tenderloin. It has almost no fat, and thus, it’s very tender with a delicate flavor. Pan-frying and grilling are good ways to cook it. But as the filet is so low in fat, it’s important to avoid drying it out.
A cut of meat that as low in fat as the Filet Mignon doesn’t need a bold red wine to stand it. Thus, you can go for a light-bodied red such as Pinot Noir. Its fruitiness pairs deliciously with the delicate flavors of the meat. If you serve the meat with a heavy sauce, choose a bolder wine, for instance, a Sangiovese or a Merlot. In case you’re a white wine lover, try a New World Chardonnay. Especially those that aged in oak are fantastic matches for Filet Mignon.
Strip Cuts and Wine
The New York Strip (or the Kansas Strip) is a cut from the short loin. It’s boneless and less fatty than a ribeye. However, due to its tight texture, it’s chewier and more flavorful than a filet cut. The best way to serve it is medium-rare to medium after grilling, frying, or broiling it.
When looking for a wine to pair with strip steaks, you have plenty of options. Both light reds such as Pinot Noir or Gamay and full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon work with them. Base your choice upon the side dishes: Richer meals that include potatoes in any form and dark sauces call for Cabernet. For lighter dishes like salads or steamed vegetables, Pinot Noir or Gamay wines are better.
More Details on Cabernet Sauvignon: CABERNET SAUVIGNON – THE RED WINE ALL-STAR
T-Bone Steak and Wine
The T-Bone Steak (also: Porterhouse Steak) literally is a combination of the Filet Mignon and the New York Strip. Its name comes from a T-shaped bone that separates the two cuts. The T-Bone incorporates the characteristics of its two components. Cooking it properly isn’t easy. As the bone tends to keep the meat away from the pan, frying isn’t appropriate. Grilling and broiling are easier. You must get the temperature right to avoid burning one of the parts, though.
The right wine to pair with T-Bone steaks is a bold red with a decent tannin level. Syrah is bold enough to stand the meaty cut but not too heavy to overpower simple salt-and-pepper seasonings. Also, its aromas of black fruits add superbly to the delicate meat flavors. If you serve the steak with a rich sauce, pair it with Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec.
Raw T-Bone Steak
Sirloin Steak and Wine
As the name suggests, this beef cut comes from the sirloin of the cow. It is tender and low in fat, but nevertheless, it has more structure than a filet. As it’s also significantly more affordable, it’s a great alternative to Filet Mignon. Because of its low fat content, sirloin steaks usually are served rare to medium. Otherwise, they get too dry.
A medium-bodied red wine is perfect to pair with sirloin steaks. It should have some tannins, but not too many. Merlot or Right-Bank Bordeaux wines work just fine. If you like your steak bloody, pick an Old World wine. For medium-cooked preparations, a New World Merlot is a better choice.
Flank Steak and Wine
A flank steak (also known as London Broil) is a lean cut with lots of muscle fibers and a bit of fat. It comes from the cow’s flank below the loin. Usually, it’s best when grilled, but pan-frying and oven-broiling are acceptable ways to cook it, too. Flank steaks are best when they only get a little heat and come rare or medium-rare.
Flank cuts are pretty versatile in terms of wine pairing. They can be good with bolder as well as lighter red wines. To find the best match, you have to consider the sauce and the side dishes you serve with them. Take the general rules we’ve discussed above into consideration. When in doubt, pick a Merlot. You can’t be wrong with this choice.
Steaks are the stars of every barbeque. Due to their versatility, they’re also great when pan-fried or oven-broiled, and they go with all types of sauces and side dishes. And a glass of good wine rounds up every steak preparation you can think of. With the details in this article, you’re able to find your preferred steak and wine pairing and to provide a great steak and wine dinner for your guests. Bon appetit!