A quick google search reveals that a lot of people are searching for pointers when it comes to wine pairing.
A lot of the answers are confusing, long winded articles; that either provide you with far too much information, or are a glorified sales pitch. I am going to ( attempt ) to make it all a little less complicated. And help you make the right decisions when it comes to choosing the perfect wine pairing for your next dinner party, or even your favourite take out! Today’s focus is one of my favourites. Wine pairing with beef – in many different forms!
Wine pairing with beef
There are so many variations on roast beef, that will vary the flavours greatly – but for the moment we are going to focus on a simple classic. Roast beef with red wine jus, and all the veggie trimmings! It has the privilege of being one of the easiest dishes to match wine with. Any medium to full bodied red with do pretty well. Especially if you choose a classic region, for this old school favourite.
For a good value option, think Côtes du Rhône or a Cabernet predomindant AOC Bordeaux. My personal go to would be from the Rhone Valley. Preferably a Gigondas, if I really want a treat. It’s a rich, herbaceous red – with rugged, yet not harsh tannins. Perfect to compliment the succulent beef, yet stand up to the presence of root vegetables!
This is a funny one. There are lots of opinions on what wine to use in, and drink with beef bourguignon. I am definitely part of the ‘don’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink’ camp. And as far as beef bourguignon goes – it needs to be made with Burgundian Pinot Noir to keep it authentic. I would highly recommend drinking the same one! If you are a small household like me and Matt, and just cooking for two; one bottle should do dinner, and give you a glass to enjoy alongside it.
I’ve assumed BBQ for this one today. Since it ‘might’ be BBQ season soon, given a little luck. Burgers cooked over charcoal have a distinctive smokiness – that requires attention to be payed to the wine pairing. A Californian Zinfandel is high up on my list, as one of the only wines that can mirror the smoke in any shape of form. Another option is an earthy Northern Rhone Syrah. Both wines will even tackle that whopping slab of cheddar you have lovingly melted over the flames. Thank me later.
Bresaola or other dried / cured beef
I’ve thrown this one in here as an excuse to talk about Malbec. Everyone knows Malbec is a classic pairing for steak. Big, juicy, chargrilled steaks. What doesn’t seem to get mentioned is that the Malbec that everyones talking about, is not the Malbec you can pick up for under a tenner in your local wine shop. You need a full bodied, well structured wine with loads of oomph to tackle smokey steaks like the Argentines do – ask your local indie to help recommend one. They’ll be proud to stock it.
That young fruity Malbec does have it’s uses though. And pairing with charcuterie is one of them. Smokey cured beef, maybe some Manchego, and mellow blue cheese. The finest of evening treats! The fruity Malbec has just the right level of acidity to cut through the fat and dairy – cleaning your palate between mouthfuls. Do make sure your Malbec is from Argentina though, as for this purpose the French variety is just too green.
The trick to pairing wine with your favourite cut of steak is to pay attention to how lean the cut is. The more tender and lean the steak, the lighter the wine. So if your steak of choice is an aged fillet steak; you might want to go with a more restrained wine than if you are going to be enjoying a rib-eye. Wine pairing with beef steaks made easy!
Fillet Steak – Burgundian Pinot Noir, ideally with a bit of age. The light body, accompanied but the savoury notes brought forward with age will stand up to the aged beef; without overpowering the delicate fillet.
Sirloin Steak – Go for the middle ground here. Nothing massive; but nothing too light. Think new world Merlot. If I had my way it would be Californian Merlot every time. With a rare sirloin… grass fed and delicately marbled… #justsaying
Rib-eye Steak – The additional marbling makes for a slightly tougher, yet more flavoursome steak. This means you can go for a much heartier wine – matching the bigger flavours. A wine with relatively high levels on tannins helps to reduce the fatty feeling in your mouth between bites. Think Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, or an old world Syrah. The little bit of spice found in both of these wines will also work well if you are a peppered steak lover. But, don’t get me started on pepper sauce…
But it doesn’t stop there! There are so many options out there. From so many different areas. In an infinite amount of grape varieties. For me, the best part of the journey is always the adventure at the start. This only meant to be a loose guide, pointing you in the right direction.