Steak and red wine is a time-tested pairing that can't go wrong. Hearty meat flame-kissed from the grill, drenched in a rich glaze or pepper sauce paired with a full-bodied, tannic red...honestly, we get hungry just thinking about it. And while the old saying "red wine for red meat" rings true, that steak can be even more devilishly good when you pair it with the ideal wine based on the cut you're cooking up. Here are the guidelines we use when selecting the perfect bottle to serve with our steaks.
Best Red Wine for Ribeye Steak
Ribeye steak is so flavorful that it requires an assertive wine capable of standing up to the bold flavors in the meat. The natural choice here is a Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a case of bold meets bold; the tannins in the wine stand up to the juicy, fatty ribeye.
Another winner would be a Red Blend which can be peppery, rich, and heavy. New World versions tend to have a full body with a fruit-forward profile and softer tannins. Either style can pair well with the ribeye steak, but we think Chilean Red Blends add a nice complexity without overwhelming your palate.
Best Red Wine for Filet Mignon
Filet mignon is the most delicate of steaks, which is why it's often served with a bold sauce. When we're going sauce-free to really highlight the flavor and texture of the filet mignon, we like to serve this steak with Pinot Noir. The lightness in the flavors of both the meat and the wine means that neither overpowers the other.
When we've made a rich steak sauce, we'll bypass the lighter Pinots for something with a bolder flavor. Here, let the flavors you pick guide you toward the right kind of red - you'll want something that will stand up to the flavors in your chosen sauce. A heavier Pinot, one that's got some body to it or even smoky notes, is a perfect pairing for steak au poivre. Malbec is another pleaser - the wine's bold notes fade into a subtle tannic taste, keeping the meat center stage.
While it might not be your top pick, Carmenere can be a good choice for many filet mignon dishes because of the complex flavor profile. The wine combines a light, peppery taste with fruity notes of blackberry, cherry, and red fruits.
Best Red Wine for New York Strip
New York Strip is what we think of as an everyday steak. It's got a medium-dense texture and concentrated beefy flavor. This cut of steak gives you a lot even with the simplest treatments, like a salt-and-pepper rub before grilling. When serving this steak with sides, like creamy mashed potatoes and greens, we reach for Cabernet Sauvignon. Those jammy, berry notes offset the richness of the meat. For those lighter meals, such as a steak salad, we select a lighter-bodied Pinot Noir, so as to not overwhelm the meat.
Best Red Wines for Drinking With Steak
If you're bringing a bottle to a dinner party, but don't know what type of steak is being served, you can always ask the host. But in a pinch, these varietals will complement any steak without overwhelming it: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Red Blend. Pick up one of these bottles for a guaranteed win.
Now that you know all the rules for food and wine pairing of steaks, you can stress less while picking up the perfect Chilean wines to accompany a nice steak meal. But if we can leave you with one last piece of advice, it's this: let your palate be the judge! Pay attention to the flavor combinations you like best - that's what makes the most decadent meal.