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Steak and Wine: A Basic Guide to Pairing

on August 31, 2019

When you treat yourself to a great steak dinner, it makes sense to treat yourself to an equally great wine. With the right pairing, you will be able to elevate the flavor and aroma of both your steak and your wine.

The classic recommendation of “red wine with red meat” works well. With a bit more knowledge though, you can truly perfect your wine and steak experience.

Below we have a few recommendations and a basic guide to get your started. However, keep in mind that, when dining out, the best recommendation will often come from the sommelier or wait staff. At Atlas Steakhouse, we are happy to help you choose the perfect wine based on your own preferences and the steak you order.

If you are ordering a fatty steak -

When ordering a fatty steak you want a bold red wine. Fatty cuts like filet mignon, porterhouse, New York strip, and ribeye steaks best pair with bold reds that have high tannin. The tannin is able to cut the fattiness of the steak, acting as a sort of palate cleanser. The result is a more flavorful steak and a smoother, less bitter wine.

Great wine options include bold reds like Barolo or a Napa Cabernet. 

If you are ordering a leaner steak -

The general rule is that the lighter and leaner the red meat, the lighter your red wine should be. You want a wine that can help enhance the delicate flavors of the cut without overpowering it. Choose wines with slightly higher acidity to help cut the texture of the leaner meat. 

Also keep in mind that lighter cuts like veal will more strongly take on the flavor of whatever sauce might be used.

In general, with lighter cuts, you want the lightest red wines and should choose a pairing like Pinot Noir or even a Rose. If ordering veal you could even opt for a white wine as it is one of the few red meats that can pair well with a white.

If you are ordering lamb -

When pairing wine with a lamb steak, you have to consider the much more delicate flavor. Beef can stand up to stronger bold reds but lamb is best paired with lighter, more delicate wines. The best options are medium-bodied red wines. If you prefer bolder reds, chose one with smoother tannin levels.

A great example of a wine that pairs well with lamb steak would be Malbec.

If ordering venison or other gamey meat - 

When pairing with venison or other gamey, lean meat, you want to go for medium-bodied reds. The wine in this case will help cut the gamey taste of the meat and bring out the fruitier elements.

Some examples of good wines for venison steaks are Chianti, Valpolicella, or Côtes du Rhône.

Getting Creative - 

Keeping the above recommendations in mind, there is also some room for variety. Switching out wine for a cocktail pairing can be a great way to create unexpected flavor combinations. Just keep the same basic rules in mind. A fatty steak does great with some acid and would pair well with whiskey sour. A leaner cut meanwhile could work well with a Maker's Mark old fashioned.

Steak and Wine at Atlas Steakhouse

If you are ready to try out your pairing skills, join us at Atlas Steakhouse for an incredible menu of steak and wine options. Our staff is more than happy to help you perfect your steak and wine pairings.

Reservations can be made at 646-494-7227.