When it comes to pairing wine with steak, some of the classic choices are big, bold red wines, including:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- California Zinfandel
- Rosé, Blush Wine, and Sparkling Wine
One thing’s for sure, nothing beats the alluring aroma of a steak sizzling on the grill. From a thick Filet Mignon to a juicy, marbled Porterhouse or New York Strip Steak, beef always is best when cooked on your own backyard grill and paired with your favorite vino.
Remember, fat in food tends to soften the perception of tannins and high alcohol levels. So, a steak with ample amounts of fat, especially cooked rare or medium rare, will make “big reds” taste smoother and mellower. Meanwhile, when grilling well-done steaks, they will drip and lose fat in the grilling process and ultimately will have less fat to counterbalance the perception of tannins. So, a bold, high tannin wine will taste somewhat bitter when served with a well-done steak compared with the same steak cooked to rare or medium.
In addition, a very lean cut of steak, such as a Filet, will have significantly less fat than a T-Bone and will be enhanced more when paired with a wine featuring softer tannins, such as Merlot, Chianti, Pinot Noir, or an aged Cabernet, while a T-Bone or Rib Eye would stand up to Zinfandel, Malbec, or young Cab.
Here’s a selection of the most popular red wines to serve with your next sumptuous steak:
This often is the No. 1 choice for steak and wine pairings. Beef has lots of strong flavor from the meat itself and from smoke, marinade, sauce, or pepper, so it calls for choosing a full-bodied wine. Cabernet Sauvignon’s robust fruit tastes and powerful flavors can stand up to most steaks. Its tannins (which come mainly from the red skin of the grape) and relatively high alcohol levels also help cut through the fat of the steak, making the wine taste smoother and less bitter…and the steak more flavorful. Napa Valley Cabernets with grilled steak are a classic combo, and you can’t go wrong with ONEHOPE WINE’s
California Cabernet Sauvignon, a tremendous value full of baked blackberry and deep cassis aromas.
If you prefer European-style wines, a good bet is red Bordeaux—made from a blend of Cabernet,
Merlot, and other grapes. These wines tend to have more acid and tannins than the California wines, which you might appreciate with a rich, buttery sauce. The somewhat savory flavors in Bordeaux also can be great with an herb-laden condiment.
This up-and-coming red wine definitely is steak-friendly. In fact, Malbec is the No. 1-consumed red wine in Argentina, where it’s considered the ideal wine to pair with beef. Malbec is a versatile and rich red wine that may break with tradition but won’t break the bank. The rich, round, earthy reds can sometimes even smell beefy. Check out Malbec wines from Argentina or Chile.
Zinfandel has moderate tannins and high acidity, making it a fitting match with steaks that contain relatively good amounts of fat, such as Rib Eye, T-Bone, or Porterhouse. Zinfandel has a characteristically bold grapey spiciness and thick richness on the pallet. It also makes an interesting marinade for some of the tougher (and less expensive) cuts of beef such as Tri-Tip or London broil. If you’re rubbing your steak with sweet spices or brushing it with a dried chili sauce, like mole, try berry-rich Zinfandel, such as ONEHOPE’s California Zinfandel—stuffed with juicy vine-ripened berries and filled with aromas of pepper, cedar spice, vanilla, dried herbs, and a touch of cocoa powder.
Rosé, Blush Wine, and Sparkling Wine
A crisp, chilled Rosé wine or a bubbly Sparkling Wine (especially Brut or Rosé) is almost always an enjoyable pairing with steak and other grilled fare. Just be sure to chill them in the refrigerator or on ice for several hours before serving. In fact, we recommend also chilling your red wines to avoid any “hot wine” influence on the taste of the steaks. Try our California Brut Sparkling Wine, with aromas of fresh green apple and nectarine with a hint of fresh baked bread.