When it comes to pairing wine with steak, the two most important things to keep in mind are fat and tannin. The higher the fat content in the steak, the more tannin you need to help break down the protein. If you pair a low tannin red with a fatty cut of beef, the steak will overpower the wine. Likewise, if you pair a lean cut with a rich, full-bodied red, the wine will overpower the steak.
Fillet Steak and Pinot Noir
Fillet is the leanest cut of beef. With its low fat content and rich, buttery texture, filet needs a wine with bright acidity and low to moderate tannin, such as Pinot Noir. You’ll want something that is not too heavy on oak or alcohol to create balance and harmony between the wine and steak.
If you like your fillet rare to medium rare, try it with a classic, savoury red from Burgundy or Germany. If you like medium to medium well, where caramelisation has more of an influence, look to the New World, such as New Zealand or the United States.
Wines to try with Fillet Steak:
Sirloin and Merlot
Sirloin has a higher fat content than fillet, and requires a wine with more tannin. Most people swear by Cabernet Sauvignon as the classic pairing with sirloin, but the plummy flavours, supple tannins and richness of a great Merlot or Merlot-Blend can really stand up wonderfully to a Sirloin steak, especially when served medium to medium well after being cooked in butter. Look to the New World if you prefer your steaks better done, and keep it Old World for rarer cooking.
Wines to try with Sirloin Steak:
Ribeye and Rhône Style Reds
Ribeye steak works well with big, rustic reds from both the North and South of the Rhône valley. Ribeye steak is the perfect opportunity to open up some great Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côte-Rôtie or something similar. Ribeye always performs better when cooked slightly longer. The high fat content will be chewy and unpleasant if Ribeye is undercooked, so aim for medium to medium-well. The extra caramelisation will work really well with the fruitiness in the Syrah and Grenache based wines from the Rhône valley.
Wines to try with Ribeye:
T-Bone steak and Tuscan Reds
The ultimate in meat indulgence, the T-Bone steak requires strict attention to detail and demands a top red wine. Some of the best pairings with T-Bone come from Tuscany. This is due to the traditional preparation of steak in Tuscany, known as Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Cut 2 inches thick, basted in Italian olive oil, salt, pepper and cooked for a total of 12 minutes – 4 minutes each side and 4 minutes cooking upright on the bone, served with rosemary and slices of fresh lemon, bistecca is the ultimate meat feast. These monsters should be served with something very rich, very tannic and with big, palate cleansing acidity to ensure that every bite is exceptional!
Wines to try with T-Bone: