Pairings | Red wine sauce
The best wine pairing for steak
Steak is the ideal foil for a good red but is there a best red wine for steak? You could simply say it’s the one you most enjoy but it also depends on the cut and the way you cook it.
If you're trying to find the best wine pairing for a specific steak dish, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- The rarer a steak is the more it will lessen the sensation of tannin in any accompanying wine. So if you have a young or comparatively young cabernet sauvignon or malbec, for instance, a rare steak will make it taste more mellow
- The fattier a steak is the more robust a wine it needs. Rhône reds or other syrah or GSM (grenache/syrah/mourvèdre) blends are perfectly suited to ribeye steaks while a leaner fillet steak pairs better with a pinot noir.
- The more charred (and therefore bitter) a steak is the more ripeness/sweetness you want in your wine. A Coonawarra or Napa Valley cabernet for example or a Stellenbosch cabernet sauvignon.
- Sauces make a difference. A rich red wine sauce like my Essential Steak Sauce will need a wine that can stand up to it like a malbec or a good quality red Bordeaux. (If you’re making the sauce yourself drink a wine of slightly better quality than you used to make the sauce). With a peppercorn sauce you don’t want a wine that’s too oaky and/or high in alcohol or it may make each mouthful too spicy. A ripe Rhône or Languedoc red such as a Minervois should work well. With a béarnaise sauce a pinot again is a good match or you could even drink a rich white like a Meursault or other full-bodied chardonnay. With an Argentine chimichurri sauce a malbec is the obvious go to.
- If you’re serving an older red ease back on the saucing and serve the wine with its natural juices. If it’s a very old vintage you might even want to serve the steak medium-rare rather than rare.
My 5 best wines for steak
That said, there are five wines I turn to again and again when I'm eating steak:
Malbec (especially Argentinian malbec)
Shiraz/syrah and syrah blends e.g. with grenache and mourvèdre
‘Supertuscans’ and other modern Tuscan reds
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