Top pairings | What wines and beers to pair with meaty stews and casseroles

Top pairings

What wines and beers to pair with meaty stews and casseroles

Meaty stews and casseroles are hearty, comfort food so what type of wine should you pair with them or is beer a better match?

When it comes to pairing wine with a stew most of us would instinctively turn to a red, the big issue being how full-bodied it should be.

There are two ways of looking at it. Stews tend to be intensely flavoured with a rich thick sauce so you could argue that you need a big wine to hold its own. But that can be overwhelming. I prefer a slightly lighter more rustic red - grape varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Malbec and Tempranillo hit the spot for me.

Of course it does depend what liquid’s in the stew. If it’s beer, as in a classic Belgian carbonnade then it’s almost wilful to drink anything else. Stews that have a savoury, meaty almost marmitey taste pair better with ales than with wine.

If they’re made with wine however. as in the classic French daube, it’s best to choose a similar style but slightly better quality of the wine you used for the dish. (Though not everyone agrees - see Marc Millon's argument in favour of cooking with Barolo)

If the stew is spicy like goulash or a tagine I would choose slightly sweeter style of red such as an Australian Shiraz, Zinfandel, Pinotage or a modern Spanish red, wines that also come into play when you serve sweet flavoured veg such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash and corn alongside. But watch out for big tannins which can combine with spicy flavours to create a palate overload.

Best wines for stews

  • Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages, or, better still, village wines with their own denomination such as Cairanne or Vacqueyras
  • Other Rhône appellations such as Crozes-Hermitage, Gigondas and Lirac
  • Languedoc reds such as Corbières, Faugères and Minervois
  • Rioja crianza and similar Spanish reds from e.g. Navarra
  • Reds from the Douro in Portugal
  • Barbera from Piedmont - or elsewhere
  • Argentinian Malbec (and French Cahors)
  • Australian or South African Shiraz
  • Zinfandel - especially for rich stews such as braised oxtail or ox cheek
  • Pinotage (particularly for spicier stews)

Best beers for stews

  • Classic British ales such as Young’s Special London Ale, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Theakston's Old Peculier
  • Strong Belgian beers such as Chimay and northern French beers from the Pas de Calais region
  • Brown ales (for simple, old-fashioned stews without too much seasoning)
  • Stout or porter - if that’s what the dish is cooked in.

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Comments: 2 (Add)

Steve on October 4 2021 at 23:59

One for pedants, I suppose, though accuracy does matter, doesn't it? In your list you begin Southern Rhone wines and then, second, "Other Rhône appellations such as Crozes-Hermitage, Gigondas and Lirac". The last two of these are both CdR blends from the southern Rhone and belong with the first group. Crozes is Syrah, and is from the Northern Rhone, generally grouped with St Joseph, Cote Rotie, Cornas et al, though usually cheaper than these. Why bother? Well, the Syrah wines from the north taste different from Grenache blends from the south .........

Frankie Cook on November 22 2015 at 11:40

Nice suggestions! Had a Touriga Nacional with beef stew recently which was a great match.

Btw isn't Vacqueras an AOC in its own right?

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