When pairing steak with wine, tannins are essential to building the right flavor and mouthfeel. Tannins create the drying sensation in your mouth when drinking red wine, and work to contrast the fatty elements while also providing complexity for a leaner, more juicy steak.
Generally speaking, fine tannins create a richer, smoother wine, while rougher tannins create a more bitter, robust type of wine.
It’s also important to know about the various cuts of steak and which ones are best for amplifying the taste experience. Below you’ll find the best wine to have with steak, broken down by the cut of meat, pricing, and varietal type.
What wine goes best with ribeye steak?
Ribeye is a rich and expensive steak cut known for its tenderness but also tremendous marbled fat deposits which add flavor when cooked. It’s considered the ultimate steak for grilling or when dining out.
Pairing ribeye steak or prime rib with a top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon works brilliantly and should be the default option when dining out. High tannins help cut through the juiciness and fattiness of the cut, which makes for an excellent mouthfeel and balance in taste.
A Zinfandel is also an excellent choice to pair with ribeye. The fruitiness of the grape contrasts the ribeye’s robust iron meatiness. There are a low to moderate level of tannins but the wine’s spicy components and complexity help cut through the richness of the meat.
1. Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
This Cabernet Sauvignon from the beautiful wine region of Chile displays red fruit and fine, delicate tannins that provide elegance and density, different layers of aromas and flavors, and a smooth, persistent finish. This is the perfect premium Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with a well-prepared rib-eye steak, although you could also stash it for a few years and it will get even better.
2. Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage
Deep ruby in color, this Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a lush, bold red wine with notes of cassis, ripe raspberry, and hints of earthy loam. Fresh cherry flavors are balanced by summer flowers, while lashings of peppery spice add complexity.
Silver Oak Vintage is perfectly matched with a premium rib eye rare steak, but you could cellar it for a couple of decades under the right conditions.
3. Opaque Zinfandel 2016
After aging in French oak barrels for 14 months, Opaque Zinfandel offers ripe flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, and black cherry, but with a lovely touch of oak and leather that evens out the sweeter flavor. Accents of spice and dark cocoa contrast nicely against the richness of prime rib, and at 15% ABV there’s a strength of alcohol that doesn’t hurt either when matching with a great steak.
What wine pairs best with Wagyu beef?
Wagyu roughly translates to “Japanese cattle.” It’s synonymous with the luxury end of the steak market (the wines below are correspondingly high-quality). Wagyu beef is legendary for its marbling, which creates flavor and depth matched only by the best cuts of USDA-approved ribeye.
Syrah (shiraz) is a popular wine pairing for Wagyu beef, offering well-matched tannins with pleasant notes of pepper, spice, and oak that work well against the intricate subtleties of the beef’s marbling.
The sweeter merlot grape takes a different direction but also pairs well. The lower silky tannin is okay because merlot is fruit-forward and drier in mouthfeel, contrasting nicely with the naturally fatty and juicy steak.
4. Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2016
Australia is known for its brilliant Shiraz varieties, and Penfolds is the creme de la creme. You could go with the mighty Grange Bin 95, but you won’t see much change out of $700.
If you’re already going to spring for the Wagyu steak dinner, maybe try the RWT Shiraz instead. At the price point, it’s a sensationally bold red wine filled with notes of spice, peppers, and black fruit.
5. Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot
The Duckhorn label rarely misses, and this single estate merlot from the Napa Valley is a wonderfully powerful drop to work against your Wagyu’s meatiness. It’s firm and rich with currants and berries, with medium tannins that help the flavor linger on the palate appealingly.
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What wine goes best with filet mignon?
Personally, I’m not a huge filet mignon fan, as I like to go for larger, leaner, more mineral-heavy cuts (top sirloin for example, or the tasty hanger steak). Filet is a great cut for tenderness, and the steak to choose if you aren’t really in the mood for a large slab of beef.
Cabernet Sauvignon’s boldness matches well with filet, while the versatility and high acidity of many pinot noir varieties make it the perfect wine for camouflage, offering a medium body that works with everything, from light and dark meats to seafood and even accompanying sauces.
6. Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Caymus is a lovely dark red in color, featuring velvety tannins that create deep layers within the bottle. Its lush aromas and flavors include cocoa, cassis, and ripe dark berries. Its layers of fruit will provide a charming counterpoint to a lovely rare filet mignon served with seasonal greens, or perhaps by something saucier.
7. Cakebread Two Creeks Vineyards Pinot Noir 2018
This well-rated Anderson pinot noir offers versatility. It’s fruit-forward with cherry, raspberry, and dried blossom aromas and on the palate. The finish is smooth, with silky tannins, mineral notes, and a lingering fruit line that works well to boost the flavor balance of a cream sauce filet.
What wine goes best with a New York strip steak?
Strip steak comes from the short loin and provides a fairly tender cut that is also suited for marbling, with a mineral-rich but tender flavor. Argentinian Malbec (my favorite amongst a gloriously long list) is typically moderate in tannins and has a well-rounded flavor with earthy notes perfect for leaner cuts.
If your New York strip is less lean, a French Bordeaux or cabernet franc offers acidity to cut through the fattiness along with rich, bold flavor.
8. Famiglia Bianchi Organic Malbec 2019
Mendoza Argentina is a great place to party, see art, and roll up into the Andes. It’s also Argentina’s premier wine region.
This Malbec is an attractive bruised purple, hearty and rich, with a medium body and smooth tannins. It’s versatile enough for any meat but works willingly in concert with the iron minerals in lean steak.
9. Château Picque-Caillou 2016
This elegant Bordeaux blend is a lovely mix of black fruits and wood aging. It has a beautiful versatility, sweet in flavor but also tannin-rich and with a velvety mouthfeel.
This wine could be part of all of these steak categories, so slotting it at this price point alongside the NY strip seems like the perfect steak to pair it with.
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What wine goes best with T-bone and porterhouse steak?
T-bone and porterhouse steaks are cut from the short loin. T-bone steak is cut towards the front and porterhouse near the rear. Porterhouse steaks have more tenderloin in their cut, however, T-bones are popular with those who prefer steaks bone-in.
A bold syrah offers a boost to the beefy flavor of a porterhouse, while again, Malbec is a deliciously versatile choice to go with these popular cuts, and they won’t break your budget.
10. Altamana Grande Reserve Malbec 2017
Just a couple of hours over the Andes Mountains from Mendoza, you’ll find Chile, which also makes a killer Malbec. This one comes from the lovely Maule Valley south of the capital Santiago.
Again, versatility is the order of the day. Bright, well-matched flavors, a medium body, and tannins help this red blend beautifully with a perfect steak – lean or more marbled, it doesn’t matter.
11. Orin Swift Machete Syrah
This could taste horrible but I’d still buy it – there’s a beautiful woman with a blade on the label. However, this offering from Orin Swift is a bold, flavorful Shiraz that offers versatility and value for money.
Buy a bottle, some porterhouse steaks, play poker, and tell some stories.
What wine goes the best with sirloin steak?
Known as rump steak in Australia and New Zealand, sirloin is the hip part of the cow. Sirloin can be loosely divided into the top and bottom regions.
The top is the better, more tender, and flavorsome cut from the butt. The bottom sirloin, which is carved from the upper part of the hip, is chewier and more chunky, so if you are going to grill steaks go with the top.
While white wines are generally preferred for light meats or seafood, sirloin can be paired with a compact sauvignon blanc, or maybe a dry riesling. Make sure there are greens on hand for boosting the white wine’s flavor, or even in contrast to a citrus or cream-based sauce.
A nice, rare sirloin is also appealing for the good quality mid-tier pinot noir varieties that can be found at your local liquor store.
12. Frog's Leap Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
This Sauvignon Blanc offers stone fruit, brisk notes of green apple, and bright mineral flavors. Its crispness and acidity go well with a small steak, seasonal greens, and a butter-based sauce.
13. Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
The Goldeneye Pinot Noir comes from the Anderson Valley, which is known for creating an earthiness and minerality in its red wine offerings. It possesses a berry fruit nose with subtle spice and a touch of the floral which works well in complement to the beefy flavor of sirloin.
How do I pair inexpensive meat cuts with wine?
For other cuts of beef, such as hanger steak (very underrated), skirt steak, flank steak, or the ultra cheapies blade and chuck, aim to purchase an inexpensive bottle you like to drink, that has a bit of versatility.
Color, tannins, price, and pairing doesn’t matter as much this far down the line, it should be about value for the enjoyment of the food, drink, and company. The two wines below are budget options, but they are great tasting and versatile enough to combine with different steak dishes.
14. Ramsay Merlot 2018
A merlot big and bustling, this 2018 offers fruity flavor and nice tannins. A good quaffing wine for simple steak meals or at the tail end of a big evening’s entertainment.
15. Bogle Pinot Noir
This popular no-frills pinot noir offers a good complement of dark fruit, with hints of strawberry, coffee, and cocoa. It’s not going to wow you, but it won’t let you down either. Good with steak, it’s also a useful table wine for white meats, seafood, and game.
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