How to Choose The Best Red Wine For Your Steak

At Sequoia Grove, our wine and food pairing philosophy encourages you to think outside the box when it comes to the ingredients you can use to build a suitable pairing for a red wine. Chef Britny Maureze has demonstrated through our A Taste for Cabernet experience that Cabernet Sauvignon pairs with pescatarian and vegetarian dishes as well as with more traditional red meat dishes.

For those of us who do like to partake in red meat,  savoring a perfectly cooked steak with a delicious glass of red wine can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s common knowledge that red wine is a wonderful accompaniment to red meat. But that’s where most people’s know-how on the matter ends. The truth is that steak and red wine is not a one-size-fits-all proposition! Certain cuts of steak pair better with certain varieties. This is because various types of wine differ widely in taste as do different cuts of meat. Even the way you prepare your steak makes a difference – be it seared, braised or grilled. 

So if you’re treating yourself to an indulgent dinner, here’s how to ensure it is the best combination possible. And remember: these are just guidelines. At Sequoia Grove, we wholeheartedly believe in encouraging you to enjoy wine the way you like it and experiment!

Why does Red Wine Pair with Steak?

 

Filet Mignon Steak | Pair with Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Malbec

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In general, the leaner the red meat you are matching, the lighter the red wine you can use. A light-bodied wine such as Malbec should have slightly higher acidity that will cut through the texture of the lean meat. Also, the leaner the meat, the less it needs to be aged and therefore the less cooking time needed.


The softest, most delicate cut of meat is Filet  as it comes from a part of the cow where muscles are hardly used. Filet Mignon is best served rare or medium-rare as it is lean and will dry out if cooked too long. As Filet is one of the leaner cuts of meat, a heavily tannic wine like Cabernet Sauvignon would overpower its delicate nature. That’s why we’ve paired Filet with one of the lightest red wines in our portfolio, our Napa Valley Malbec. The magic of this pairing is that Malbec is one of the least tannic wines, making it an ideal match for the subtle, yet delectable, filet. 

 

Short Loin Steak | Pair with Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Merlot

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Short Loin steak is from the hindquarter of the cow, where the muscles are not too developed. This means it is still a relatively lean cut of meat and is best served medium-rare. Steaks you may know from the Short Loin include Porterhouse and New York Strip. We recommend enjoying a good-quality Short Loin steak with a Merlot such as our popular Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Merlot. As a medium-bodied wine with a bright finish, Merlot is the ideal easy-drinking and smooth option for an equally flavorful and soft Short Loin. 

  

Top Sirloin Steak | Pair with Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Syrah

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The Top Sirloin steak comes from directly underneath the cow’s tenderloin strip portion. As this steak cut comes from a very muscular area of the animal, it is a naturally lean, thick cut of steak with a bold, beefy flavor. Top Sirloin can be done on the grill, in the oven, or pan – but it shines on the grill.

We’ve paired Top Sirloin with our Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Syrah. This complex wine dances between fruit forward and savory notes on the nose and on the palate, complementing the steak thanks to its high tannin, which acts as a palate-cleansing astringent with this tender cut of beef.

 

Rib Eye | Pair with Sequoia Grove Tonella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 

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As its name implies, the Rib-Eye steak cut comes from the “eye,” or center, of a cow’s rib portion. It typically is marbled with fat and needs to be cooked medium or more, to help break down the fat content and caramelize the fat into flavor. The Rib-Eye steak is incredibly tender and juicy, and it offers a melt-in-your-mouth sensation.

The king of red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, is often the number one choice for steak and wine pairing, but it is particularly well paired to a Rib Eye. This is because it is a full-bodied wine with a robust fruit palate that can stand up to the richness of a Rib Eye. The tannins derived from the red skin of the grapes combine with a high alcohol level of the Cabernet Sauvignon, and this helps cut through the marbled fattiness of the Rib Eye. The result is a wine that tastes smoother paired with a more flavourful steak. 

T-Bone Steak | Pair with Sequoia Grove Cambium Red Blend 

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The T-bone is one of the most recognizable steak cuts due to its distinctive T-shaped bone. It contains a nicely-sized tenderloin and a strip of top loin (also referred to as strip steak). It can be cooked in a pan, but the grill is ideal. This steak cut offers the best of both worlds: you’ll get to experience the strip steak’s flavor and the tenderloin’s incredible tenderness. 

To make the most of this pairing, serve it with our flagship red blend Sequoia Grove Cambium. A combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, the richly layered palate will be a perfect match to the complex T-Bone flavors. 

More In Common Than You Think!

Besides pairing well together, red wine and steak share interesting similarities in the way that they are aged and stored:

On Aging 

If a wine is made to age, the aging process helps to further develop flavors and textures we would otherwise never have experienced. With aging, the tannins soften and flavors develop secondary and tertiary aromas. Any wine lover will know that aging wine can potentially help improve its complexity. This distinguishes wine from most other consumable goods – except steak! 

Indeed, many premium cuts of steaks are also aged. Aging is a process of preparing beef for consumption by breaking down the connective tissue to make it more tender. In general, the older the meat, the darker and richer it becomes… just like wine. 

 

On Storage 

Wine needs to be stored very carefully in order to age well – just like steak! When it comes to wine, some basics include keeping your bottles in a dark space, with corked wine bottles on their sides, and with the temperature at a cool constant. The optimum temperature is 55 degrees. The most important things to remember are that your wine should never be exposed to oxygen (once it is, you need to drink it) and not too much light. 

Much in the same way, when it comes to steak, storage temperature is also vital. We recommend buying steak that has been vacuum-sealed to avoid any oxygen contamination and stored in a cool 34-degree fridge.

While there are no wrong answers if you’re enjoying yourself, being mindful of your steak and red wine pairing can enhance your experience of both! Happy grilling!