Steaks should be paired with red wine. Anyone who loves steak will have heard that at least once in their lifetime. However, it’s not as simple as picking up a random bottle of red wine to drink. Believe it or not, the cut of a steak also plays a role in determining the kind of red wine you should consider having with dinner. With that in mind, here are some recommendations based on four popular cuts of steak:
Flank is the ideal cut if you want to marinate your steak, although it can also be grilled with just salt and pepper if you wish. The cut is known to be an inexpensive tougher cut, but packed with flavor.
Malbec – The strong berry flavor and velvety texture of a good Malbec is a perfect complement to the tougher cut and stronger beefy flavor. Look for a good bottle from Argentina, preferably from Mendoza, where 70% of the country’s wine is produced.
Sirloin is a common, yet popular, cut known for its light marbling and affordability compared to other popular steaks. It is typically served with a sauce on the side, which can make it tricky to pair with wine.
Tempranillo – This smooth Spanish wine is a versatile pick thanks to its medium tannin and acidity levels. This should make it easier to pair with more common steak sauces. Try picking up an aged Rioja Reserva for best results. Another recommendation would be a French Syrah if you are planning to serve your sirloin with a butter sauce.
One of the most popular cuts in the world, ribeyes offer great marbling, which makes it naturally tender. Rich, juicy, and full of flavor, the ribeye is a great choice for special occasions or celebrations. As such, a great bottle of red wine is almost always a must.
Cabernet Sauvignon – A classic bottle for a classic cut. The rib eye’s higher fat content requires a wine that is either high in tannins to cut the fat’s rich, buttery flavor. Cabernet Sauvignon works particularly well if you plan to season your ribeye with fresh rosemary, though it plays just as well with other seasoning herbs.
The crème de la crème of cuts, Filet Mignon is prized for its incredible melt-in-your-mouth texture due to the fact that it is not a weight-bearing muscle. Its flavor, however, leans more towards the subtle side. Therefore, a more complementary bottle is ideal for this cut of steak.
Merlot – This velvety red wine with moderate acidity and soft, but present, tannins is a great choice as its flavors tend to “stay in its lane”. Try opening a bottle from a warmer climate, preferably California or Australia. These bottles tend to have a lighter body and more fruity flavors which complement the natural flavor of the Filet.
Of course, these are only rudimentary recommendations designed to fit typical tastes. If, however, you have taken wine classes from bodies like WSET, you may find that other types of reds pair better with the way you prefer your steak. The rules and recommendations offered are not ironclad. What’s most important here is that you are happily sipping a wine variety that you enjoy. After all, why even have steak and wine if you aren’t enjoying your meal?