Advanced Steak and Wine Pairing: A Guide for Steak Oscar

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Chef pan frying a steak in a skillet

The word “steak” conjures up different images for everyone. Some people think of a perfectly grilled ribeye, while others imagine a rich, juicy pan-roasted New York strip. That’s what makes steak so great — it’s incredibly versatile. With so many cuts and ways to prepare it, you’ll have a dish for almost every occasion.

Arguably one of the fanciest steak preparations is steak Oscar. The dish consists of a skillet-cooked steak topped with steamed or oven-roasted asparagus spears, tender crabmeat, and bearnaise sauce. Traditionally, the dish is known as veal Oscar, named after the Swedish King Oscar II. Reportedly, he was partial to these particular ingredients.

Today, many people choose filet mignon instead of veal. However, you could easily choose another cut of steak if you wanted. Some people even substitute the steak with chicken, pork, or fish. They might exchange the crabmeat for lobster or shrimp. And for the sake of simplicity, they might make a hollandaise sauce instead of bearnaise. 

With a side of duchess or twice baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, or a simple green salad, steak Oscar makes a delectable meal for a date night, Valentine’s Day, or any other special occasion. However, as we well know, no great dish is complete without the perfect wine. This is why we’ve prepared this guide to selecting the best steak wine pairing for your steak Oscar. 

The Benefits of Selecting a Great Wine Pairing

Food and wine pairings are one of those combinations that people hardly question. It’s as natural as pancakes and maple syrup, peanut butter and jelly, or even steak and potatoes. However, it’s not only the act of drinking a glass of wine with your meal that makes the duo so great. It’s also the art of pairing the right wine with the dish. 

The right pairing has the power to take a good meal and transform it into an incredible dining experience. Elements of the wine can enhance the dish, while the food on your plate can do the same for the wine. For instance, the tannins in many red wines can bring the flavor of red meat — such as steak — to the foreground. At the same time, the meat’s fat can coax the wine’s fruity flavors out. 

In some cases, the food and the wine can bring more balance to one another. For instance, the residual sugars in sweeter, lower alcohol wines can cool a spicy dish or tame a salty one. At the same time, the spice or salt accentuates the wine’s tannins, toning down the sweetness. 

In essence, pairing food and wine is both art and science. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be exact. There’s room for experimentation. Testing out different combinations is a fun adventure and a great way to discover your new favorite meals. 

Steak Oscar Wine Pairing: 4 Recommendations to Try

With dishes like steak Oscar, you're combining a lot of different elements. You’ve got rich meat with delicate seafood, a light, green vegetable, and a heavy sauce. You can’t really apply the “white wine with light meat and red wine with red meat” rule here. If you’re unsure of which wine to choose, we’ve got a few steak wine pairing recommendations to help get you started.

1. Pinot Noir

One of the top wine recommendations for steak Oscar would have to be pinot noir. This is especially true if you’re going all out with a cut of tender filet mignon. 

Pinot noir is a fruity red wine, low in tannins and high in acidity. Its alcohol content is also a bit lower than many other wines. These characteristics allow it to complement a filet mignon rather than overpower it.

A great pinot noir plays well with all elements of steak Oscar. The lower tannins of the wine refuse to overpower the crab, while the acidity balances the meat’s sweetness. A slightly bolder variety stands up well to the bearnaise sauce. The asparagus is the trickiest element of the dish. Roasting or chargrilling it gives it a more intense flavor, though, enabling it to work well with this delightful red. 

2. Oaked Chardonnay

While most white wines don’t go with steak — there’s a reason they say red with red — an oaked chardonnay makes a compelling case for breaking the general rule of thumb. A fuller-bodied wine, this white can stand up to the meat and the rich flavors of the dish as a whole. 

Again, the asparagus is the troublesome element in pairing white with steak Oscar. The natural inclination is often sauvignon blanc, however, the bearnaise sauce offsets the delicate nature of the vegetable, allowing it to handle the more intense chardonnay. 

3. Cabernet Sauvignon

While cabernet sauvignon is often a natural choice for steak, most people wouldn’t pair it with crab or asparagus. The robust, full-bodied red wine is high in tannins, acidity, and alcohol. It also features notes of dark red fruits and oak. These attributes enable it to cut through a steak’s fat, while the fat helps reduce the wine’s natural bitterness. 

A cabernet sauvignon’s natural qualities tend to overpower the delicate flavors of crab or lobster. The high tannins and alcohol content don’t generally play nice with asparagus. However, combining these two foods with steak and bearnaise or hollandaise sauce creates a combination that can work well with the bolder red wine, especially when you roast your asparagus.

4. Champagne

Often considered an aperitif, Champagne actually makes a fantastic partner for steak Oscar — and steak in general. Its minerality adds extra depth to a steak’s savory, meaty flavors. As one of the highest acidity wines, it serves as a palate cleanser between bites, cutting through the fat of the meat and the bearnaise sauce. At the same time, its crisp, toasty notes work well with sweet crabmeat and asparagus. What’s more, you can select a white or rosé Champagne and have an enjoyable experience with either one. 

Create a Memorable Meal with the Right Steak Wine Pairings

The various elements of steak Oscar might make choosing a wine more difficult, but it’s not impossible. In fact, being able to select from red and white varieties means that, no matter what your wine preferences, you’ll have options that allow you to turn your delicious meal into a memorable experience.

Are you looking for the perfect wine for your next steak meal? JJ Buckley Fine Wines has you covered. Visit us today to view our selection or contact our knowledgeable wine specialists for expert recommendations.