Some food-and-wine pairings are made in heaven. Some are made in a much hotter place.
On the heavenly side, a steak offers abundant wine-matching possibilities. Depending on the cut and the type of preparation, a good steak can bring out the personality in certain wines. Likewise, the right wine can elevate a steak dinner to one of those “I’ll never forget…” experiences.
Let’s explore some of the possibilities…
* With a rich, buttery steak – the kind you’d be served at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House, as an example – the beef would be enhanced by the fruit nuances of Pinot Noir or the herbal notes of Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot also could work, since it mirrors the herbal quality of Cabernet, but it would need to be a big, bold rendition of the variety. A young Zinfandel also could work quite nicely, as the steak would help smooth out the rough edges that variety exhibits in its youth.
For white wine fanciers, a rich, buttery Chardonnay also could work well, although a better match for such a voluptuous wine would be a rare leg of lamb. The rule of thumb when selecting a white wine to pair with steak: the bigger the better.
* We’ve often recommended pairing wines to cuisine – French wine with French food, German wine with German food, etc. The same theory can be applied to steak when its preparation evokes a specific heritage or cooking style. For example, in Tuscany, the steak of choice would be the classic T-bone known as Fiorentina. And the best wine to serve would be a Chianti Classico.
* When a steak is prepared with pepper or some other type of hot spice, it can blow away the flavors of most wines – except those that have their own peppery component. Zinfandel is a dependable choice, but don’t shy away from a nice Syrah or Mourvedre, or a Rhone-style blend that includes those varieties.
* If you enjoy steak tartare, try it with a sparkling rose or a fruit-forward Beaujolais. You’ll be in for an ultra-rare treat.