Ah, beef: the classic example of red meat. The typical service is with red wine, but the classical rules of food and wine pairings, for the most part, are now fortunately deemed unimportant. The greatest question is whether or not a pair is to your taste. Even taking that into account, certain principles are worthy of consideration. When the question surrounds beef, the factors which affect the pairing are significant.
What Are You Cooking?
The most important factor in determining what wine to serve with a piece of beef is what piece of beef is being served. A piece of roast beef pairs well with a drier, more acidic wine. In general, wines higher in acid pair well with cuts higher in fat.
Most every cut of beef enjoys sitting beside a strong glass of red wine. Most non-steak cuts of beef are quite flavorful, as they come from portions of the animal which have done much of the work in moving the beast around: the rump, the shoulder, the ends of the ribs, etc. These need certain wines just as they need certain cooking methods. For the most part, these wines are bold red wines.
Pot roast very much enjoys bold red wines. Most often braised to tenderize it, flavors are often added to the liquid which up the requirements for the wine. If you’ve decided to go the French route with Beef Bourguignonne, a special type of pot roast, consider a burgundy wine. The liquid used in the braising is, as the name suggests, a burgundy wine. Matching the flavor here will continue the taste throughout the meal. But if you wish to have a contrasting flavor in your wine, go with a strong and rounded Chardonnay.
Standing rib roasts also want bold wines, even bold whites. Short ribs, with their large amount of fat, want mostly bold red wines to stand up to the massive flavors floating around the palate. Grilling hamburgers over the weekend with wine instead of beer? The choice is myriad here. Light whites, bold reds: in this arena more than many other cuts of beef, the field is entirely yours.
If beef stew is on the menu, consider the broth. As the herbs and spices build, so to must the spiciness of the wine. Syrah is a wonderful choice, as is an intense red Zinfandel.
Are You Cooking At All?
But wait! What about those beef dishes who do not touch the pan or flame, or even an acid, at all? Carpaccio and steak tartare require extra care with regards to wine selection. While these respond well to red wines, bold flavors are not their favorites. Select lighter red wines to allow the subtle beef flavors to shine.
In short, beef responds well to most wines you could select. While reds are often the best, certain whites work just as well with certain cuts. But most of all, follow your tongue and nose. The recommendations from even the experts are useless if you don’t like them. So drink what you like with your dinner, and enjoy every sip.
|Food||Wine(Best Pairing Listed First)|
|Barbecued Beef Ribs||Beaujolais, Riesling, White Zinfandel|
|Beef Bourguignon||Pinot Noir, Zinfandel|
|Beef Stew||Malbec, Syrah/Shiraz|
|Beef Stroganoff||Barbera, Cotes du Rhone|
|Beef Wellington||Red Bordeaux, Rioja|
|Carpaccio/Beef tartare||Dolcetto, Sauvignon Blanc|
|Corned beef||Pinot Blanc, Riesling|
|Pot roast||Cotes du Rhone, Zinfandel|
|Roast Beef with gravy or au jus||Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel|
|Steak/Prime Rib||Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel|