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One of the most synergistic pairings in the food and beverage world is steak and wine. Each provides a balance to the other, and each enhances the other while still maintaining its individuality. Together they create a gastronomic pleasure, and a true symphony of flavors, textures, and aromas. The cuts of steaks are many and so are the techniques of cooking them. There are many fabulous wines waiting to be discovered and tasted for your next elegant steak dinner.
Here, we present a few choices from around the world to get you started on the best wines with steak.
Best with Filet Mignon: Antinori Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico
Filet mignon is an extremely lean cut of meat and it is all about the tenderness. With its buttery, melt-in-the-mouth texture, it needs a wine that does not overpower. The Antinori Badia Chianti Classico is a wine with flavors that are deeply layered. The wine is concentrated and has nice acidity. It is fruity without being jammy with well-integrated tannins. It invites the senses with the aromas of smoked meat, chocolate, and ripe fruit. The dark fruit on the palate and lower alcohol content in the wine elevate the meat’s texture. A liberal salt and fresh pepper seasoning on the steak brings out the slight oak and spices in the wine.
Sometimes, more than the steak, you may want to focus on the method of cooking it for a wine pairing. While the classic pairing with steak is the big bold red wine, if you are not in the mood for one of those, pick up a sparkling wine or a rosé. “I like to switch things up and go with a sparkling wine or rosé if the steak is cooked rare," says Zachary Marcus Cesare Harris, importer and distributor of wine at Ikavina Wine and Spirits.
Best with New York Strip: Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape
The strip is not the most tender steak, but it is moderately tender with a bit of chew. The strong beefy flavor and rich marbling make it a delicious steak. The Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a rich, intense, and elegantly balanced wine. The finish on the wine is savory and long, yet the fruit carries through until the end. In the mouth, the tight tannins wrap around layers of minerals and bright juicy dark fruits with a wonderful acidity. This bright acidity allows it to cut through the fat and complement the flavor of the beef in the strip.
Best with Rib-Eye: Raymond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
The rib-eye steak is a rich cut with great beefy flavor and is known as much for its marbling as it is for the flavor. “Rib-eye allows for and can stand up to full-bodied wines as the fat in the marbling needs tannins and the acidity to complement it," says Wine Educator and Certified Specialist of Wine Cindy Eger. She recommends a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon anytime you're eating a rib-eye. “A Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon provides that expression of fruitiness and chewy tannins that complement the steak."
The Raymond Reserve Selection Cabernet is a bold, structured wine with rich dark fruit flavor and a long finish. With aromas of vanilla, leather, and baking spices, the wine is focused and direct.
Best with Porterhouse: Prats & Symington Chryseia Douro 2016
Two steaks in one is an exciting thing. The porterhouse or the T-bone is a cross-section of marbled, textured strip steak and the lean tenderloin. You get the flavor of the strip and the tenderness of the loin. “If you want a truly earthy experience, outside of the usual reds like the new world cabernet sauvignons, merlots, and syrah, Portuguese reds are high up on the list to pair with steaks," says Zachary Marcus Cesare Harris.
Prats & Symington Chryseia is big, bold, and alive. This well-structured wine with mouthwatering acidity is rich and spicy. Expect robust black fruit, dark coffee, silky smooth tannins, and a subtle savory finish. This wine is a powerful and complex companion to the Porterhouse steak.
Best with Hanger Steak: Decoy Merlot 2018
Also known as the butcher's steak, the hanger steak is loved for its beefy flavor. Its loose texture is a perfect canvas for marinades, which add acidity and moisture to the steak. The Decoy Merlot does exceptionally well with varied food and hence would stand up to any complementary marinade you put on the steak. It’s smooth with characteristically soft tannins and medium acidity. With aromas of herbs and baking spices on the nose, the wine is full of juicy plum and dark cherries on the palate. This is a fun wine to experiment with different food pairings.
Best with Flat Iron Steak: Tikal Amorío Malbec
Flat iron steaks are tender and have a fair amount of marbling. These steaks are quite flavorful and are best cooked on the grill. Take them to the next level by serving them with some delightful chimichurri and the Tikal Amorio Malbec. There is an earthiness to this wine that complements the meat. The wine is bright with balanced acidity. Cherries and raspberries come through on the palate with hints of spice at the finish. This luscious signature malbec from Mendoza is a crowd-pleaser.
Best with Flank Steak: The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot
Although technically not a steak, the flank is a very popular cut of beef. It is a very flavorful cut of meat that has a tight texture and is quite lean. Since the steak is thin, it benefits from marinades and spice rubs for added flavor. The Prisoner Wine Company Thorn Merlot is a rich and bold wine. There is cassis, chocolate, baking spices, and cedar on the nose. The palate is straight-up fruit with a sleek balance between flavor and feel. It is a carefully crafted full-bodied wine with a long finish.
Best with Skirt Steak: Pulenta Estate La Flor Malbec 2019
Skirt steak is a coarsely grained portion of beef with a good amount of fat that gives it a flavorful richness. This cut takes well to marinades, seasonings, and quick cooking. The Pulenta La Flor Malbec is earthy with notes of wood and forest floor on the nose. The palate is luxurious and well-rounded with big bold hints of herbs and fruits. It offers a nice juicy finish with lingering florals and a great balance of acidity for all the big bold fruitiness and just the right amount of oak. This is a wonderful pairing for fajitas, stews, and anything else you might want to make with the skirt steak.
The choice of the cut deeply influences the choice of wine you pair with it. For well marbled powerhouse steaks you can always pick up a cabernet sauvignon like the Raymond Reserve Selection Cabernet (view at Vivino) that has the tannins to balance out the fat. And for steaks that are leaner with generous seasonings, the Tikal Amorio Malbec (view at Vivino) is a delicious option.
What to Look for in a Wine to Pair with Steak
Cut of Steak
A wine should complement the cut of steak and not overwhelm or take away from the flavor of the meat. Lighter red wines tend to go best with the leaner cuts of steak such as filet mignon, while more marbled, higher fat cuts of meat like a rib eye do well when accompanied by more robust red wines. Choose your selection carefully, so they enhance each other's flavors, making for a delicious and satisfying meal.
What do you prefer when it comes to a bottle of red wine? Do you enjoy a lighter, fruitier red or a heavier, full-bodied one? Choose the style of wine you love to drink and pair it with the steak you enjoy. If you want to sample ones to explore a different new taste and mouthfeel, go for it. It all boils down to what your preference is—just take pleasure in that juicy steak and glass of wine.
How you prepare the steak will also affect the type of red wine you drink with the meal. Steaks seasoned with spicy ingredients need a lighter, sweeter wine, while steaks accompanied by robust sauces should have a full-bodied wine.
What are tannins in wine?
Tannins are basically the level of acidity, bitterness, and dryness in red wine. There are different levels of tannins depending on the style of red wine. Most often, full-bodied red wines have high tannins.
How long does a bottle of red wine last once opened?
Overall, a good rule of thumb is once the bottle is opened, red wine will last three to five days when stored in the fridge. The higher-tannin red wines will keep the longest without losing their flavor. Before serving, allow the wine to come down to a slightly chilled temperature.
Do white wines go with steak?
If you're not a fan of red wine and prefer white wine, go ahead and grab a bottle of Chardonnay or Riesling. Enjoy what you like as it's your palate and your preference.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Renu Dhar is a private chef and culinary instructor. She has been turning seasonal ingredients into sensational food for years and has years of experience pairing food with wine for personal clients and private events. She loves to travel to wine regions across the globe to find her next new wine love.