Classic Steak and Red Wine Pairings: Beginner's Guide

Published July 29, 2022
Smiling bearded man leaning at dining table with red wine and steaks

A pan-seared steak basted in garlic-butter with a caramelized crust and tender inside is more than ready to be paired with a glass of vino. So you've got your steak seasoned at room-temp with your cast iron pan at the ready, now which bottle to crack for the perfect steak and wine pairing?

Pairing Steak and Wine

When dialing in your steak and wine pairing, you want to consider which cut you're preparing and how you plan to cook it. Steaks that are suited for grilling, like ribeye, will pick up that smoky char and match particularly well with more robust heady wines, whereas a reverse sear tenderloin will be a better match with something more delicate or juicy. Do you have to stick with a red? No. Do what you like. That being said, red wine and steak pairings are a classic for a reason. The body and structure of red wine matches that of red meat, making it a particularly good match. So, who pairs off with who?

Best steak and wine pairing infographic

Filet Mignon Wine Pairing

When are you not in the mood for a filet mignon? This lusciously tender cut is flavorful and lean. When seared in a hot cast iron, the outside gets that oh so perfect crust while the inside remains delicately rare. Because this cut is on the milder side, you don't want to overwhelm it with a really tannic heady red; rather, stick to something with equal finesse like a Burgundy, Oregon pinot noir, or mencía. The subtle red berry, forest floor, and minerality these wines offer complements a filet mignon beautifully.

Wine to Pair With New York Strip

The popular New York Strip steak has all that desired marbling you're looking for. It needs little more than a coating of salt and a healthy amount of fresh cracked pepper to really deliver excellent flavor. When it comes to the wine pairing, you'll want something with substantial acidity that can cut through the fat along with something that adds complexity to the pairing. A classic, like a Rhône blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre will really shine here. You can also lean into something juicy and fresh, like an Austrian zweigelt or gamay, which deliver brilliant red cherry and soft tannins.

Ribeye and Wine Best Matches

If you're cooking up a ribeye, you're getting serious. And if you're cooking up a bone-in-ribeye, you really know what's up. This showy cut was made for a wood-fire scene. Finish it off with a thick pad of garlicky, herby compound butter and a glass of something equally as bold like a Bordeaux or California zin. If you've gone for the fire or grilled cooking method, something subtly smoky like a carignan will pair extremely well while bringing enough acidity to keep things lively.

Dinner for two with ribeye steaks and red wine

Top Sirloin Pairing

Sirloin may be the steak you reach for more often than not as it is a bit more economical while remaining flavorful and lean. A pan-sear, reverse sear, or grill works well with this cut. A dusty tempranillo is a great pairing with a grilled sirloin while a juicy malbec or dolcetto, with its delicate violet and black pepper, are great with a pan-seared, butter-basted top sirloin.

Type of Wine to Pair With Flank Steak

Flank steak, a.k.a. skirt steak, is best after hanging out in a long and punchy marinade and needs a careful eye during the cooking so as not to over cook. The char and smoky notes that a grill infuses are perfect for this cut of meat. A cool-weather cabernet franc with juicy fruit and hints of black pepper and savory herbs is a great match with a grilled flank steak. A red fruit forward Spanish garnacha is another good match for those thinly sliced pieces of juicy meat.

Best T-Bone Steak Wine Pairings

This is one that you really want to turn up the heat for, blistering the outside and developing that caramelized crust. It's packed with flavor and pairs best with a fuller-bodied red like a Greek syrah or xinomavro with layered fruit notes, black pepper, and velvety tannins. If you've been saving the big guns, like Barolo or Barbaresco, pull them out for a T-bone. You won't regret it.

Grilled t-bone steak and red wine

A Fiery Match

Pick your cut, decide on your cooking method and seasoning, and then choose your wine to match. If you've got a preparation in mind for your steak that you think would be particularly good with one of your favorite red blends, go for it!

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Classic Steak and Red Wine Pairings: Beginner's Guide