what wine goes with beef

Classic fuller-bodied reds, such as Bordeaux blends led by Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the southern Rhône or Australian Shiraz, are often considered go-to wines that can match the flavour intensity of a roast beef dish.

One truism of wine and food pairings that will never go out of style is that red wine and steak are a perfect match. While we are big fans of mixing it up and bending the rules, we also hew to the belief that there is no need to change something that is working. Red wine and steak are perfect with one another because of the compounds that combine on our palates when we put them together—namely fat, protein and tannins. While we are sipping and chewing and enjoying conversation at home or our favorite steakhouse, there is a reaction at work in our mouths that heightens the pleasure of combining two of our favorite things.

Tannins—compounds in wine derived from grape skins and seeds and oak barrels—have an astringent or drying quality in the mouth. Protein and fat present in steak offer a wet or lubricating feeling on the palate. The first step in the dance of steak and beef is that, quite simply, the drying and lubricating characteristics balance each other out and cause a pleasant sensation. Beyond that, though, some science is at play. Molecules in the steak’s fat have a softening effect on tannins, making the wine feel softer and smoother, while at the same time tannins soften fat and bring out more flavor from the meat. Wines with a heavier tannic profile, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, are better suited to well marbled cuts such as ribeye and strip steak, while lighter tannins, such as those in Pinot Noir or Syrah, are a more desirable choice with leaner cuts like filet mignon or top sirloin.

2. Pair Wine and Beef by Region

Recipes and types of dishes vary widely by their country of origin. Mediterranean food uses garlic, rosemary, sage and lemon. French food comes with heavy sauces. South American fare can be spicy. Californian chefs prepare light meals. As a rule, choose a wine from the region of the world that your beef recipe is from. French wine with French food, Italian wine with Italian food, and so forth.

The theory is that food grown in a certain region will pair best with wine made from grapes of the same country of origin. Evidence supporting this theory is that, historically, wine was drunk with meals simply because the local water supply wasn’t suitable for drinking. Everyone drank wine, and no thought was given to wine pairings. In most areas, local wine was all that was readily available, and so that is all that was consumed by the average person.

As wine-making became more of an art, the local wines continued to evolve with the local culinary traditions. So, by pairing wine from a region with food from the same region, you are more likely to get complementary flavors.

1. Bold Flavors Go Together

Most beef recipes are filling and hearty, and are served with starchy side dishes such as potatoes, rice or bread. Very few beef dishes can be considered light, which is why red wines go so well with beef. If your beef dish has a strong, bold flavor, you’ll want to select a wine that can stand up to it. A basic rule when pairing wines with food is to put similar flavors together. Strong goes with strong, acidic with acidic, sweet with sweet, et cetera. Here are a few examples.

what wine goes with beef

  • Beef grilled over charcoal will have an intensely smoky flavor. Choose a red wine that is rich and high in tannins to complement it. Try a Shiraz from California or Australia with your favorite steak.
  • Lean cuts of beef, such as filet mignon, taste better with a less tannic red wine. Go with a Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Best bets come from California, Spain and Italy.
  • Prime rib, which is very rich and has fat marbled throughout, needs a young wine to cut through the flavor of the beef. Choose a Bordeaux from France or a Merlot that hasn’t been aged very long.
  • Stew, brisket and ribs that have cooked slowly for hours take on a rich, earthy flavor. You’ll need a bold wine that can compete with the intensity of the dish. In this case, a slightly fruity red wine can be the perfect match. Go with a big Burgundy from France or a Zinfandel from Sonoma, California.

Rules were made to be broken, and not everyone agrees that similar flavors go together. For instance, sweet wines go with spicy foods such as beef curry, but perhaps that is because there are no truly spicy wines. Some people prefer to pair opposite flavors together, and will pair a dry, acidic wine with a rich creamy sauce. The choice is simply a matter of personal preference.

Bodegas Arzuaga 2018 Amaya-Arzuaga Tempranillo Ribera del Duero Spain

what wine goes with beef

Grapes for this alluring wine come from 100-year-old pre-phylloxera vines growing in the Arzuaga family’s La Planta vineyard in Quintanilla de Onesimo. It is brilliant garnet in the glass with violet reflections in the rim. The enticing bouquet draws you in with aromas of red fruits and freshly cut herbs. In the mouth it is generous and round with rich fruit flavors and balanced tannins and a finish that goes on and on. A perfect match for a chuleton de buey cooked over an olive wood fire. Only 2,857 bottles and 180 magnums were made in 2018.

Classic fuller-bodied reds, such as Bordeaux blends led by Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the southern Rhône or Australian Shiraz, are often considered go-to wines that can match the flavour intensity of a roast beef dish.

FAQ

Do you drink red or white wine with beef?

And white wine can also be delicious – but it’s not a perfect pair for steak. Red wine is what you should choose to go with a steak. It’s easy to remember – red meat gets red wine. Beef is typically accompanied by a red – while a “white” meat like chicken or fish is best served with a white.

What wine goes best with red meat?

Steak, lamb and other red meat A rich cut such as Wagyu rib-eye will pair beautifully with a bold and high tannin red wine such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. For meats with more delicate texture and flavour like eye fillet or lamb, choose a red wine with finer tannins, such as Malbec or Pinot Noir.

Why does red wine go well with beef?

Molecules in red wine called tannins soften fats in the meat, helping to release the taste of beefy goodness. The fat in turn softens the astringent qualities of the wine, helping to mellow the beverage and produce a juicier, more fruit forward flavor.

What wine goes with ground beef?

For a classic ground beef burger, consider some of the go-to red meat wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. A juicy Grenache or classic ‘GSM’ blend could also be a great accompaniment to a night of comfort food, as recommended in our guide to choosing a barbecue wine.

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