For the best wines to pair with steak consider the cut: Cabernet Sauvignon for sirloin, Côtes du Rhône for ribeye and Rioja Reserva for filet.
There is something primal about the appeal of a great steak. The combination of charred red meat served simply and effectively clearly speaks to our neanderthal impulses. This timeless appeal, accompanied by the rise of high-end steakhouses such as Blacklock, Flat Iron, Gaucho and Hawksmoor, has ensured that customers know more about preparation of high quality meat more than ever before. Now that most of the population are well versed in steak preparation - the need for a scalding hot pan, the importance of provenance, the search for marbled meat, the importance of searing the sides, the right resting period - but they may still not know which wines should go with which steaks.
Firstly, when pairing wine with steak, remember that this is time for major flavours. No delicate wines here: a great steak calls for a glass of something that can cut through the fatty delights and enhance, not be overpowered by, the deep meaty flavours.
Remember that all steak cuts are different and require different wine selections. Sirloin, long held as the default option in gastro pubs and restaurants alike, is traditionally paired with a robust Cabernet Sauvignon that has sufficient tannins (the naturally-occurring compounds found in plants and fruit skins) which can glide expertly through the fattier cut. Ribeye, a cut of beef from the outer side of the ribs, can be matched with either a full blooded Cote du Rhone or a bold Zinfandel for spectacular results. Fillet, considered by most to be the finest cut, is particularly delicious with a perfectly aged Rioja Reserva.
How the steak is prepared should also inform your choice of wine. If you prefer your steak rare, classic, Old World wines may bring out the best in the flavour and sensation. If you prefer medium well then you should be considering riper fruitier offerings. If you prefer well done we suggest you open a bottle of Pinot Noir or a soft Syrah.
If you’re still stuck for inspiration, here are three failsafe options we recommend:
Yellow Tail Malbec
Dark in colour, this velvety Australian family favourite has notes of ripe berries and a hint of spice.
Zuccardi 'Serie A' Malbec/Tempranillo 2019, Mendoza
A full-bodied blend of Malbec and Tempranillo provides the best of both worlds regardless of your cut.
Château Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Napa Valley
A medium bodied masterpiece direct from Napa Valley, this makes the perfect accompaniment to a rib-eye steak.
So far, so traditional. But let’s try something completely different: why shouldn’t you order white wine with a steak? Sure some of the lighter whites might struggle to match it but rules are made to be broken - and if you’re still following wine “rules” in 2021, then it’s time to think again. For a great white option, look for a rich, layered white which blends fresh acidity (to tackle the fat) and maximum fullness (to match the flavours). Or, another unusual option is sparkling - what could be more decadent than pairing a bottle of Nyetimber with a bone-in ribeye?
In summary, red meat dishes shouldn’t be restrictive: a steak is one of life’s great pleasures and as such can be enjoyed and enhanced by all manner of accompanying wines. Consider how you prefer the piece of meat, match up with what’s in your glass and enjoy.