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Every week we do a meal plan at home and shop accordingly. Boring I know, but these are the realities of juggling busy lives and a young family. Invariably, steak or something similar is on the menu, and so the question of what wine to match comes up. Simple you may think – a big, gutsy red? But that all depends on what you’re having with the steak and how you like it cooked. We’ve delved a little deeper to come up with some more options and get closer to that perfect match!

Rare steak

This requires a wine with an elevated tannin profile. In other words, reds that are firm or a touch bitter. Leaner cuts of beef are best cooked rare – fillet or sirloin, which negates the need for ‘big’ wines. The wine should still have obvious tannin, which will be softened by the protein.

Fattier steak, such as Wagyu, Scotch Fillet or anything well marbled

Obviously, these steaks can be cooked rare through to well done. However, the flavour of scotch fillet, rump and T-Bone is stronger, and they have more fat. As a consequence, the wine should have lots of flavour, full body and plenty of tannin.

Steak cooked over charcoal

The fattier cuts work best for this. It is hard to regulate the heat of a spit or charcoal BBQ, but fattier cuts are more forgiving if you overcook them. Also, the smoke imparts its own strong flavour. The combination of fattier, richly flavoured steak, intensified by smoke, requires wines with big flavour. The exception I would make is Chianti, which is usually paired with Bistecca Florentine. The Chianti needs a fair bit of heft and plenty of acidity to cut through the meat’s fat and flavour.

Some of the choices here will seem odd. For example, I have included LBV and Vintage Port, Banyuls and Amarone della Valpolicella. They are a perfect hedonistic match.The wines are full bodied, with enormous fruit, extract, texture, firm tannins and sweetness.  I would rather not have these wines at the end of a long meal. By this time I have loosened my belt, am glowing red and want to go to sleep!

Steak with Peppercorn Sauce

The sauce, being spicy, needs a wine that is rich with lots of abundant sweet fruit. Indeed as with the choices above, there are wines here with residual sweetness.

Steak with sauce Bearnaise (usually Sirloin or Fillet Mignon)

Bearnaise sauce is usually paired with a steak with only moderate flavour, like fillet mignon or sirloin. The Bernaise sauce is tangy and creamy. The soft flavour of the steak and the tangy white sauce requires a red with lots of juicy acidity, firm tannin for cut through but not too much body. However, you could also consider a rich full bodied Chardonnay. The sheer size of the wine will match the meal’s flavour and the tangy, edgy sauce will blend well with the roundness of the wine.

Steak Tartare

I have found many friends will order this dish and pair it with a wine to be had with a cooked steak. The soft texture and delicacy of flavour requires a lighter wine. Juicy, tangy acidity and vibrant fruit works best here. Bistro wine for a bistro dish.

 

Steak with Mushroom Sauce

Everyone’s got their own version of mushroom sauce, but I like mine to be big, rich and packed with mushroom flavour. This dish calls for hedonism (ideally, they all do!) so spend up on the wine. Some varietals pair particularly well with the earthy and gamey flavours of this sauce. The wines I’ve chosen are big in flavour and personality. Aged Champagne might raise a few eyebrows (hopefully towards heaven), but they develop a flavour of mushrooms as they mature. Although their flavours change, they don’t lessen, so the Champagne shouldn’t be swamped by the rich dish.

Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce

This is the richest and, to my mind, most decadent dish here. Huge flavours and plenty of salty, tangy protein need a huge wine. I think a wine with real sweetness works beautifully here, cutting through the protein, fat and countering the dish’s inherent saltiness. I love bestowing luxury on friends and family, and this dish with one of these wines is perfect. Rolls Royce at the dinner table.

 

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