The Top Wine Pairings for Steak

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Glass and bottle of wine next to steak dish

Tips for Pairing Wine and Steak

Pairing the right wine with your steak can bring your dining experience to the next level. There are a few key factors that you need to keep in mind when selecting your pairing. It’s all about creating the right balance.

Red wines typically work best with steaks. This is because of their high tannin content, which helps to bring out the flavor of the meat. The fat in steak also helps to bring out the fruitier notes present in red wines.

Consider the cut of your steak; the leaner your steak, the lighter your wine selection should be. Fattier cuts of steak pair better with full-bodied wines.

Think about how you’re cooking your steak—the degree to which you cook it will affect how your wine tastes. For instance, a rare steak will even out the taste of a bolder wine.

Well-done steaks lose fat in the cooking process. As a result, bitter notes will be enhanced. Don't forget about the seasoning; the type of sauce you put on your steak, such as a peppercorn or butter sauce, will affect your pairing.

Ribeye and Zinfandel

Ribeye is one of the most flavorful cuts of steak. This is largely due to its marbling, which gives it an incredible flavor and texture. The high fat content of the ribeye helps the meat to remain tender when cooked. Ribeye steaks do very well on the grill, which can give them a delicious smoky flavor.

A Zinfandel does very well with ribeye steaks. While considered a light-bodied wine, its taste can be quite bold. This is due to its moderate tannin levels and high acidity. Zinfandels are fruity wines with notes of spiciness. All of these characteristics allow them to pair nicely with the richness of a ribeye. Other candidates to pair with ribeye include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Bordeaux.

Porterhouse or T-Bone and Syrah

Porterhouse and T-bone steaks both come from the short loin, and are like two steaks in one, as they contain both strip and tenderloin. Although they are often lumped together, they are slightly different. The porterhouse is a larger cut. It comes from the rearmost section of the short loin, so it isn’t as tender as a T-bone.

A Syrah is an excellent choice for both porterhouse and T-bone cuts. This type of wine offers the tannins of a pinot noir with the dark fruit flavors of a Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s heavier than a pinot noir, while also being lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon. This enables it to perfectly match with both the porterhouse and the T-bone. A Cabernet Sauvignon can also pair well with either kind of steak when served with a rich sauce such as a Bearnaise.

New York Strip and Cabernet Sauvignon

The New York strip comes from the forward-most portion of the short loin. This area isn’t very muscular, so the cut is fairly tender. It is one of the most popular cuts, and is a boneless cut of meat with a high fat content. It is juicy, rich, and very flavorful.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic pairing for a New York strip steak. It’s a robust, full-bodied wine with flavors of dark fruits and notes of oak. The wine boasts high tannin levels, high acidity, and a high alcohol content, all of which help to cut through the fat of the steak.

At the same time, the fat of the New York strip also helps to reduce the bitterness of the Cabernet Sauvignon, giving it a smoother taste. If you’re serving your New York strip over a salad, a lighter pinot noir makes a better choice.

Filet Mignon and Pinot Noir

The filet mignon is what many consider to be the highest quality cut of steak. It comes from the section of the tenderloin that’s nearest to the ribs, and is one of the leanest cuts available. It’s not the most flavorful cut, but it is one of the most tender. Its texture is what makes it so highly prized.

Because of the filet’s mild, delicate flavor, it’s generally served on its own. It can also be served with sauces. Some of the best options include peppercorn, butter, and bleu cheese.

Whether you choose to serve your filet mignon on its own or with a sauce, the best wine pairing for this particular steak is a pinot noir. This wine combines a pleasant red fruity flavor with low tannin levels and high acidity. It also has a lower alcohol content than most wines. These characteristics give pinot noir a refreshing taste and feel, allowing the wine to complement a filet mignon rather than overpower it.

If you’re serving your filet mignon without any sauce, you’ll want to choose a lighter pinot noir. The addition of a sauce allows the steak to handle a heartier, smokier wine. For filet mignon served with a sauce, a heavier pinot noir makes an excellent pairing.

Wine and steak are an iconic combination. When you pair the right wine with your steak, you take your meal from good to incredible.

JJ Buckley has the perfect wines for all occasions. Not sure which wine to pair with your steak? JJ Buckley’s consultancy services can help. Contact us today to learn more.