Beef and Wine Pairings
One way to enhance the delicious flavor and refined texture of premium beef cuts is to pair it with an equally high-quality wine. Beef and wine pairings have developed into an important factor when creating a luxurious dining experience, specifically due to the harmonious interaction of their complex flavor profiles and distinct textures. Even though people tend to use red wines to pair with beef, white wines and roses can also be enjoyed with specific beef cuts and dishes.
There exists a lot of different advice for how to find the perfect wine for each beef cut, and in this post we will explore this advice in the hopes that it will help improve your next dining experience.
Before we begin, we should understand what “tannins” are, as their level in the wine heavily contributes to the type of beef it should be paired with. A natural compound found in the skin, seeds, and stem of grapes, “tannins” are what produce a wine’s bitterness and dryness. Accordingly, if a wine is higher in tannins, it will be more dry and bitter. Since tannins have the incredible ability to bind to proteins and fat, wines that are commonly paired with beef cuts will have a higher level of tannins, as the dry texture and bitter flavor balances out the richness and marbling of beef. With this in mind, since red wines are usually higher in tannins, they are more commonly paired with beef.
Red wines are typically chosen as a pair for beef, specifically due to the dryness and astringency from the high levels of tannins.
Most people consider the basic guidelines to be:
- Leaner meat with lighter wine
- Fattier meat with bolder wine
However, other factors also play a big role when determining which wine to pair, such as the marbling of the meat, the cooking style, and the seasoning of the meat. Thus, along with the basic rule above, other parameters to keep in mind include:
- More marbling tends to mean a richer cut of beef, thus the wine should be dense and concentrated
- Certain seasonings compliment each other, for example:
- A meat with black pepper paired with a wine with a similar flavor like a Syrah
- The flavors of wines like Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon can often be enhanced by specific herbs
- Beef dishes with considerable levels of spice, like from chiles, tend to pair well with a sweeter wine to counterbalance the spice
- Cooking methods:
- Meats that are smoked or grilled are usually paired with bolder wines that are high in tannins, or wines that have an oaky flavor
- Slow cooked stews and roasts develop deep, rich flavors that need to be paired with a wine just as big in flavor, such as a red Burgundy wine
Cuts of Beef
Even though it is important to consider cooking style and seasoning when deciding which wine to pair with your meat, the cut of beef is usually the biggest determining factor. Some examples:
- Filet Mignon
Cut from the smaller end of the tenderloin, Filet Mignon is a very lean meat with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich flavor. A wine with a good acidity and soft tannins tends to combine eloquently with the Filet, producing a smooth balance, and mutually enhancing the flavors of each.
Perfect partners to a Filet Mignon are often times silky Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux inspired blends, like the “Union Sacré, ‘Le Passion du Diable,’” Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 and the “The Paring,” California Bordeaux Blend 2013, both offered at LB Steak.
- New York Strip
One of the most popular cuts of beef, the New York Strip is cut from the cattle’s short loin region, producing a lean cut of beef with a distinct, moderate level of marbling, and strong beefy flavor. One thing that makes New York Strip so popular, is the versatility when pairing it with a wine. Due to this, arguably the best wine to pair with New York Strip is a Cabernet Sauvignon, since the range of age, alcohol content, and flavor can be perfectly attuned to the seasoning and spices of the meat.
Some examples of good Cabernet Sauvignons available at LB Steak include:
- Rafanelli, Dry Creek, CA ’14
- Black Stallion, Napa, CA ’14
- Silver Oak, Alexander, CA ’13
Cut from the rib section of the cattle, the Ribeye is known as being one of the fattest and juiciest cuts of meat. In order to cut through that fatty flavor, the wine paired with Ribeye should have an equally bold and robust flavor. With this in mind, other than a Cabernet Sauvignon, common wines to pair with Ribeye include Merlot and Zinfandel. Wines in this style found at LB Steak include “Turley, ‘Juvenile,’” 2016 California Zinfandel and “Duckhorn”2014 California Merlot.
Overall, the red wine most commonly paired with beef is Cabernet Sauvignon, due to its versatility. However, other red wines can produce amazing results when paired with the proper dish. Thus, the ability to experiment more with the complex flavors and textures produced from different pairings is always available.
White and Rose Wines
More often than not, beef is paired with red wines; however, white wines can also make a great pairing, especially depending on the style of cooking and flavors involved.
For example, beef prepared with Korean and Thai flavors pair extremely well with white wines, as the low tannin level and sweeter flavors compliment the specific types of spices used in these dishes. Rieslings, like “L’Union Sacré, ‘Fräulein’” 2016 California, are a natural compliment to the bold and sometimes spicy Asian flavors, common to this style of cooking.
Rose Wines, are an ideal match to lighter dishes such as steak salad, steak tartare, whose flavors are enhanced by the slightly fruity character of the wine, without being inhibited by tannin.
Overall, the most important thing during your dining experience is to enjoy what you are eating and drinking. However, if you wish to experience the unique new flavors and textures that can be created from pairing specific wines to specific beef cuts, this guide should help you get started.
Come to LB Steak to experience these unique culinary combinations!