Perfect Pairings: Red Wine and Steak – Tips and Recommendations



Wine and steak pairing is a culinary art that can elevate the dining experience, enhancing the flavors of both elements. In this guide, we will explore the characteristics of different red wines and steak cuts and provide tips and recommendations from top sommeliers for finding the perfect match.

I. Red Wine and Steak Pairing Tips:

When pairing red wine with steak, consider the role of tannins, acidity, and flavor profile in creating a harmonious combination. Also, keep in mind how different cooking methods and sauces can affect the pairing.

  1. Tannins: Tannins, found in red wines, help to break down the fat and protein in steak, creating a smooth, balanced taste experience.
  2. Acidity: Acidity in wine can cleanse the palate, making each bite of steak taste as flavorful as the first.
  3. Flavor profile: Choose a wine with flavors that complement or contrast the flavors of the steak, depending on your personal preference.

II. Popular Red Wine and Steak Pairings:

Top sommeliers recommend the following red wine and steak pairings for popular steak cuts:

  1. Ribeye: Pair with a bold, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or a spicy Zinfandel to complement the richness of the marbled, fatty cut.
  2. Filet Mignon: The lean, tender filet mignon pairs well with a medium-bodied Merlot, which has softer tannins and a smooth finish.
  3. New York Strip: A classic Bordeaux, with its structured tannins and complex flavors, complements the balance of fat and lean in a New York Strip.
  4. Sirloin: The robust flavors of a Tempranillo or Syrah can stand up to the meaty, flavorful sirloin cut.
  5. T-Bone: A Greek Xinomavro, with its high acidity and bold tannins, pairs well with the T-Bone’s combination of tender filet and flavorful strip.
  6. Porterhouse: Similar to the T-Bone, a Xinomavro complements the porterhouse’s blend of textures and flavors.
  7. Rump: A Chilean Carménère, with its spicy, earthy notes, matches the rump steak’s firmer texture and rich flavor.
  8. Flank & Skirt: The fruity, bold flavors of a Malbec can stand up to the strong, beefy taste of flank and skirt steak.

III. Non-Traditional Red Wine and Steak Pairings:

For less common steak cuts or unconventional preparations, consider these red wine pairing suggestions:

  1. Hanger Steak: This cut, known for its intense beefy flavor and slightly chewy texture, pairs well with a full-bodied Grenache or a fruity, spicy Mourvèdre.
  2. Flat Iron Steak: With its tender texture and rich, beefy flavor, flat iron steak can be enhanced by a juicy, medium-bodied red like a Barbera or a well-rounded Zinfandel.
  3. Tri-Tip Steak: This flavorful, triangular-shaped cut can be complemented by a South American Tannat, known for its bold tannins, or an earthy, fruity Pinot Noir.
  4. Bavette Steak: Also known as flap steak, this long, thin cut has a chewy texture and a strong beefy flavor that goes well with a full-bodied red like a Côtes du Rhône blend or a spicy Shiraz.
  5. Steak Tartare: For this raw preparation, consider a lighter red wine with good acidity, such as a Gamay or a young, fresh Cabernet Franc.
  6. Asian-inspired Steak: For steak dishes prepared with Asian spices or marinades, a fruity, off-dry red like a Lambrusco or a light-bodied Beaujolais can work well to balance the flavors.
  7. Smoked Steak: A smoky, grilled steak pairs nicely with a bold, fruit-forward red like a California Syrah or an Australian Shiraz, as these wines can stand up to the strong flavors of the smoked meat.

Remember that pairing red wines with non-traditional steak cuts and preparations is an opportunity to explore new flavor combinations and discover your personal favorites. Don’t be afraid to experiment and trust your palate to guide you.

IV. Sauce Suggestions:

Traditional Sauces:

  1. Red Wine Reduction: Made by simmering red wine with shallots, garlic, and herbs, this sauce pairs well with bold red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Malbec and rich steak cuts like ribeye or New York strip.
  2. Peppercorn Sauce: A creamy sauce with cracked black peppercorns, this classic accompaniment works well with full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and lean cuts like filet mignon or sirloin.
  3. Béarnaise Sauce: A rich, buttery sauce flavored with tarragon and shallots, Béarnaise pairs nicely with medium-bodied reds like Merlot or Pinot Noir and tender cuts like filet mignon or chateaubriand.
  4. Mushroom Sauce: A savory sauce made with sautéed mushrooms, this versatile option complements earthy red wines like Pinot Noir or Burgundy and a variety of steak cuts, from filet mignon to sirloin.

Non-Traditional Sauces:

  1. Chimichurri: An Argentinean herb sauce made with parsley, garlic, vinegar, and red pepper flakes, chimichurri pairs well with fruity, bold red wines like Malbec or Tempranillo and flavorful cuts like skirt or flank steak.
  2. Gorgonzola Cream Sauce: This rich, tangy blue cheese sauce can enhance the flavors of a bold red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel and works well with cuts like ribeye or New York strip.
  3. Asian-Inspired Sauces: For steaks prepared with Asian spices or marinades, such as soy sauce, ginger, or sesame oil, consider pairing with a fruity, off-dry red wine like a Lambrusco or a light-bodied Beaujolais to balance the flavors.
  4. Coffee Rub or Sauce: A coffee-based rub or sauce can add a smoky, bold flavor to your steak, pairing nicely with a powerful red wine like Syrah or Shiraz, which can hold its own against the strong coffee notes.

V. Serving Tips:

  1. Wine Temperature: To bring out the best flavors in red wine, it should be served slightly below room temperature, around 60-65°F (16-18°C). You can achieve this by storing the wine in a cool, dark place or by placing the bottle in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
  2. Decanting: Decanting can help to enhance the flavors and aromas of red wine, particularly for full-bodied or tannic wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Pour the wine into a decanter and let it breathe for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving. This will allow the wine to open up and release its full bouquet.
  3. Glassware: Choose a wine glass with a large bowl and a narrow rim to concentrate the aromas and direct the wine toward the back of your mouth. This will ensure that you fully experience the wine’s flavors and its interaction with the steak.
  4. Steak Temperature: The ideal internal temperature for a steak depends on your preferred level of doneness. Rare steak should be cooked to an internal temperature of 120-125°F (49-52°C), medium-rare to 130-135°F (54-57°C), medium to 140-145°F (60-63°C), and medium-well to 150-155°F (66-68°C). Using a meat thermometer will ensure that your steak is cooked to perfection.
  5. Resting the Steak: Allow the steak to rest for about 5-10 minutes after cooking. This will allow the juices to redistribute and result in a tender, flavorful steak.
  6. Plate Presentation: Pair your steak with complimentary side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a simple green salad. Arrange the steak and sides attractively on the plate, and consider adding a garnish, such as fresh herbs or a drizzle of sauce, for visual appeal.
  7. Enjoying the Meal: Sip your wine and savor the steak, taking note of how the flavors and textures of each element complement one another. Be open to experimenting with different pairings to discover your personal preferences and create the perfect dining experience.


Throughout this guide, we have explored the art of pairing red wine with various steak cuts, delving into tips and recommendations from top sommeliers. We’ve discussed the role of tannins, acidity, and flavor profiles in creating harmonious pairings, as well as how cooking methods and sauces can impact the combinations.

We have covered both popular and non-traditional red wine and steak pairings, providing insight into how each wine complements the flavors and textures of different cuts of steak. This guide aims to serve as a starting point for your own culinary adventures, as you explore new pairings and discover your personal favorites.

As you continue your journey in pairing red wine and steak, remember to be open to experimentation and trust your palate. The world of wine and food pairing offers endless opportunities for enjoyment and learning. Cheers to finding the perfect red wine and steak pairings that suit your tastes!

Frequently Asked Questions

Red wine pairs well with steak due to its high tannin content, which helps break down the fat and protein in the meat, creating a balanced and smooth taste experience. Additionally, the bold flavors of red wine can stand up to and complement the rich, savory flavors of steak.

Popular red wines that pair well with steak include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Malbec, and Bordeaux blends, among others. The specific pairing will depend on the cut of steak, its preparation, and personal preferences.

While red wine is traditionally the go-to choice for steak, some white wines can work well with specific cuts and preparations. For example, a rich, full-bodied Chardonnay or an aged white Rioja may complement a lean cut like filet mignon or a steak with a creamy sauce.

Yes, the cut of steak plays a significant role in choosing a wine pairing, as different cuts have varying levels of fat, flavor, and texture. Matching the wine’s characteristics to the steak’s profile can create a more enjoyable and harmonious tasting experience.

Serve red wine at the proper temperature (typically between 60-65°F for most red wines) and in appropriate wine glasses to enhance the flavors and aromas. Decanting the wine can also improve the overall experience, allowing the wine to breathe and open up.

Start with the basic guidelines, such as pairing bolder wines with fattier cuts and lighter wines with leaner cuts. Take note of regional pairings and consider the flavors and textures of both the steak and the wine. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from wine experts or consult resources online.

While there are basic guidelines and common pairings to follow, wine and steak pairing ultimately comes down to personal preference. Experiment with different combinations to discover which pairings you enjoy the most.

Want more like this? Food and wine pairing made easy in our Ultimate Guide to Wine and Food Pairing.



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