Pairing wine with food is a very old and complex practice. You’ve probably been to an upscale restaurant where a sommelier, or wine steward, makes recommendations on food and wine pairings. There are professional associations all over the world for maintaining standards in this area, and it takes years of dedication and hard work to gain recognition as a professional sommelier.
At the same time, pairing wine with food is not something reserved only for trained professionals and dedicated foodies. It’s a common practice shared by everyone who appreciates a good glass of wine with a fine meal – and you don’t have to be an expert to know a good pairing when you taste it!
When you think about your next steakhouse visit, wine might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe you prefer a cold beer with your steak, or a craft cocktail, or maybe you’re rather stick with water or soda. But if you haven’t ever tried pairing a glass of wine with a fine steak, it’s definitely worth a try.
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
This red wine is often the “go to” when it comes to steak. Due to its full-bodied and fruity taste, it pairs nicely with the succulent and full-bodied flavor of a high quality steak. A sommelier could explain much better than we can, but Cabernet Sauvignon has a high alcohol content and plenty of tannins from the skin of the grapes. This gives Cabernet a smooth finish that really brings out the flavor of a good cut.
This Argentinian red wine has been growing very popular lately, and we’re seeing it more and more in restaurants of all types. Best of all, Malbec pairs very well with steak. They love red meat in Argentina, and this is the most popular wine to pair with it. It has a very rich and flavorful profile that accentuates the flavor of a good steak, and it’s often among the more affordable wines on the list.
3. California Zinfandel
Another red wine that makes an excellent pairing with steak is a dark, flavorful California Zinfandel. This is a more acidic wine with fewer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, which means that Zinfandel goes very well with fatty steaks. If you’ve got a steak with really good marbling, consider pairing it with this wine. Interesting fact: Zinfandel is also sometimes used as a steak marinade.
People often gravitate towards red wines when it comes to pairing with steak, and there is good reason for this – but don’t rule out a chilled, refreshing, crisp Rosé. This is always a popular pairing with steak or other grilled meats. A warm summer evening on the patio could be a perfect opportunity to try this combination for yourself.
Ask your local steakhouse for recommendations!
Now that you’ve got a grasp of wines that tend to be paired with steak, ask your waiter for recommendations from the wine list. Wine might not have been your first choice for steak, but once you experience a good pairing, you very well may want to repeat the experience!