Top pairings | Which wine (or beer) to pair with roast beef

Top pairings

Which wine (or beer) to pair with roast beef

Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the easiest dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of wine you choose.

First of all, how will the beef be cooked? Will it be very rare or medium to well done? That will partly depend on the cut - you’re probably likely to serve a very lean piece of meat or one that’s cooked at a low temperature more underdone that a joint with a fair amount of fat like a sirloin.

The rarer the meat is - and the more of a deeply savoury crust it has - the better it will deal with tannins and high levels of alcohol. In other words rare beef suits young, full-bodied reds while older, more delicate reds are sometimes better with beef that’s cooked a little longer

Secondly, how is it sauced? With a typically English gravy or a concentrated wine-based ‘jus’? If the sauce is intensely winey it again tends to suit full-bodied youthful reds like Syrah/Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. If it’s served with gravy you’re better off with a more classic wine like a red Bordeaux or a Rioja - or of course, a traditional ale or porter (an under-estimated match with roast beef).

Horseradish sauce will also affect your wine match - not so much if it’s a ready-made creamy sauce but if it’s made with fresh horseradish I’d choose a wine that has intense enough fruit to handle it. A Douro red or a Malbec would fit the bill

Thirdly what are you serving in the way of vegetables? Not necessarily a crucial factor unless they’re strongly strongly flavoured like red cabbage but the more veg you have the more likely it is that some ingredient will throw your wine off-balance. If you're pulling out a special bottle keep your accompaniments simple.

Personally I think roast beef is a great opportunity to open a good Bordeaux or other Cabernet/Merlot or Malbec blend. Or a great syrah or shiraz. Much the same wines that go with steak, in other words.

And in terms of beer? Can't beat a classic British ale like Timothy Taylor's Landlord!

Note: Yorkshire pudding won't make much of a difference to the match other than increasing the amount of carbs on the plate which probably makes beer an even more logical choice.

Photo ©Brent Hofacker at

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