Welcome, class, to Steak 101. Those who pass this course will advance immediately to Steak-and-Wine 102.
Unless you’re a vegetarian, you probably like steak. But you’ve probably never thought much about it — that is, what makes a steak a steak. (Pay attention; there may be a quiz later…)
In very basic terms, a steak is a slice from a larger piece of meat, typically beef. Various red meats and fish are cut into steaks, but for the purposes of this blog post, we’ll stick with beef.
Most steaks are cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers, which improves the perceived tenderness of the meat. In the United States, restaurant steaks typically are grilled, often cooked over wood chips such as oak.
Because steaks are cooked quickly (using dry heat) and served whole, the most tender cuts of the animal usually are used. This also means that steaks carry a premium price and perception; the idea of eating steak is a signifier of relative wealth.
In many parts of the country, the grills have been put away for the long winter, but that doesn’t mean we stop eating steak. Some people like to pan-fry the meat (sometimes in butter), while others opt for broiling in the oven.
Almost regardless of the preparation, a good steak calls for a good glass of wine alongside it. Fortunately, the pairing possibilities are almost limitless.
We asked seven members of our tasting panel to name the type of wine they most enjoy with steak… and we got seven different answers. Their recommendations, in no particular order:
- Chianti Classico from Italy
- Zinfandel (red, not white) from California
- Red Burgundy (i.e., Pinot Noir) from France
- Cabernet Sauvignon (one mentioned Bordeaux; another suggested the Napa Valley)
- Malbec from Argentina
- Shiraz from Australia
One tasting panel member also mentioned that when she fries a steak in butter, she prefers a nice, buttery Chardonnay. That’s right — white wine with beef.
In Steak-and-Wine 102, that’s an idea definitely deserving of extra-credit points.
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For a tasty garlic butter recipe — perfect for topping a sirloin steak — click here (http://blog.vinesse.com/a-tasty-topping-for-steak).