Five Perfect Steak and Wine Pairings
There are some truly great flavour combinations out there – strawberries and cream, apple and cinnamon, sour cream Pringles and milk chocolate, (don’t ask how we know this, but yes it did involve alcohol), however one of the most mouth-watering has to be a perfectly cooked steak and a glass of red wine.
Despite being sheer flavour sorcery in the making, it’s actually not as simple as grabbing the nearest red and getting the barbeque going – seasoning, intensity and how the meat is cooked all play a part – but perhaps the biggest factor, is juicy, meaty fat, as the higher the fat content, the more tannins you’ll need to blast a path through.
So, if you’re looking for the ultimate meat/wine match up, here are five perfect pairings to get you started.
1) Tenderloin (Filet de Bœuf) and Pinot Noir
As a general rule, the lower down the cow the steak comes from, the less fat it will have. Originating from the lower back, the Tenderloin, or Filet de Boeuf, is a super-tender cut that melts in the mouth when cooked right. This low fat content allows a lighter, more delicate wine to shine, ideally the precocious Madame of the grape world, Pinot Noir.
2) Bavette (Flank Steak) and Syrah
Also hailing from the tasty underbelly, Bavette is cut from a hard-working area of the cow that’s rich in flavour, relatively lean yet marbled, easy to overcook and frequently marinated to help tenderise it. To stand up to this combination you need a wine with chunkier tannins and a good hit of spice, like a nice Syrah, a varietal that’s action-packed with pepper, aniseed, herbs and smoke.
3) Ribeye (Entrecôte) and Cabernet Sauvignon
Ribeye has lots of dense and lovely marbling running through it and is usually served closer to medium to give it time to caramelize that lovely, rich fat. Cabernet, meanwhile, is full-bodied, with big tannins, and a high acid count that allows it to go toe-to-toe with exceptionally juicy cuts. Throw in blackcurrant, tobacco, and plum and you’re left with something magical.
4) Merlot and Burger
OK, not a steak as such, but bear with us. As well as being juicy and completely delicious, a great burger should also have decent fat content, a variety of tempting toppings and a healthy level of seasoning. To match this you need a wine that’s big enough to withstand that combined assault without overwhelming it, with velvety, medium-strength tannins and some serious fruit behind it – all of which describes a great Merlot. As an extra bonus Merlot is a casual, value for money affair that’s easily available, just like the burger itself.
5) Rosé and Steak Tartare
Your initial reaction might be shock, but there’s a reason why rosé works so well with raw rump beef. When you cook a steak it goes through the Maillard reaction, a chemical change that increases flavour whenever heat is added (and the reason why the charred surface of the steak always tastes so good.) Because it’s uncooked, tartare has less intensity of flavour but gains extra layers from the capers, pepper, egg yolk etc. Enter rosé, a mild, yet fruity wine with subtle tannins that pairs beautifully with light and delicate flavours. In particular, try one from Provence in the south of France, famous for its pale-pink, mineral-rich wine with aromas of rose petal, strawberry and melon.
Now seriously, does anyone else fancy a steak?
Don’t just take our word for it though. Join us at Couqley for a Steak ‘n Grape tasting where you can put all these pairings to the test in one sitting.
- Saturday 5 October
- Saturday 9 November
- Saturday 30 November
For more information on beer and wine, as well as upcoming tastings, events and short courses, check out www.thetastingclass.com/events.