When it comes to pairing wines with different foods, there are a few staple flavor pairings that restaurants and sommeliers keep locked firmly in their minds: sweet and salty, and sour/sharp and spicy, for instance.
Unless they’ve been living under a rock (or have little knowledge of food etiquette), most people are aware of how wine is the perfect accompaniment to a decent steak, right? Well, what the vast majority of foodies are unaware of is how the fattiness of the steak itself and the seasoning can both affect the type of wine that pairs best with it. So, how exactly do these factors make a difference?
Stick to the Staples
Before going any further, it’s important to highlight that, while there are certainly some great acidic cocktails that pair well with a steak, you can’t go wrong with a well-chosen red wine – stick to the staples and a flavorful success is bound to follow. Underground Cellar, veritable wine aficionados, explain how different wines complement different cuts of steak.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbecs
A decent Cabernet Sauvignon is often referred to as a people-pleaser in the red wine world, due to the balanced flavor profile it offers. Its high-acidity tang and dark fruit blend help to cut through the fattiness of a steak perfectly, meaning it’s ideal for pairing with a rib-eye steak or a New York Strip. Equally, a fresh Malbec – with a higher acidity level and lesser oaky taste – hailing from around the Andes Mountains works well with a fattier cut of steak.
But what about those that want to look beyond the traditional?
If the steak is highly seasoned with savory flavors, a sweeter wine is a much better accompaniment than the fuller-bodied traditional options. The grape used in this type of wine has a higher sugar content, meaning that it works excellently with spicier, zestier steak dishes. However, avoid a Zinfandel if the steak has a sweet glaze – an overload of sweetness that will eventually become unbearable and ruin the steak’s flavor (as well as the wine’s, too).
Pinot Noir and Syrah
Many people question whether a Pinot Noir should be paired with steak dishes, but those who query the match have yet to experience the way it complements leaner, more tender cuts of steak that are lightly seasoned, such as a filet mignon. The light, refreshing balance of the Pinot Noir complements the less-fatty cut of meat, creating a simple yet effective pairing.
If this type of cut is smothered in a thick, heavy sauce, however, a dry wine is better – look for a robust, full-bodied, fruitier Syrah from hotter climes, such as Crete and Australia.
A good piece of advice for wine-lovers to remember, however, is to stick with the wines they know and love best – this way, it’s impossible to go wrong!