Red meat and red wine – a simple combination, right? Well, not exactly. Many folks out there think that any old Malbec from Argentina will adequately fulfil your wine needs if you need to rock up to a meat feast at a friend’s place. Sadly, it’s not so straightforward and matching your protein with a juicy red wine requires more serious thought.
Wagyu, strip loin, tenderloin, shank, rump, flank, dry aged – each of these cuts has different flavours and textures depending on the animal, how much it was fed and how the meat was prepared. It’s much like wine, which comes in all different shapes and sizes depending on the winemaker, region, varietal, vintage and even what type of oak the wine has been matured in. So you can imagine when you’re trying to marry the two elements it’s not as simple as colour coordinating the two reds together.
To help you make some wiser wine choices for your red meat outings, here’s a selection of my favourite wine pairings that’ll give you 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.
Australian wagyu beef – amarone
This type of beef is incredibly fatty and rich in taste. Each mouthful is like indulging in a spoonful of warm butter. Cooked on a hot grill plate, the long aftertaste of the meat needs a wine with equal intensity and fruity richness. Amarone is an old-school Italian red that’s made from the corvina and rondinella varietals. These grapes are partially dried to intensify flavours and build up powerful tannins. The high levels of alcohol in this type of wine is difficult to match with other lean meats.
Recommendation: Villalta Amarone DOC Classico Single Vineyard I Comunali Veneto. $480.
Char-grilled rib eye steak – grenache blends
The rib eye cut is juicy, meaty and full-flavoured. Whether it’s off-the-bone or on-the-bone, it’s delicious cooked on a charcoal grill or wood fired oven. Best served medium rare, it matches up wonderfully with any decent grenache-dominant blend. The classic profile of grenache blends are bold showings of plush tannins while offering notes of red berries, thyme and candy floss. You’ll find these blends traditionally come from places like the Barossa Valley in Australia, Swartland in South Africa, Châteauneuf-du-Pape in France and Priorat in Spain.
Recommendation: E Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape 2013. $475.
Steak tartare – zinfandel
A French bistro classic that’s made up of raw chopped beef mixed with raw egg and condiements such as capers, gherkins, onions, salt and pepper. The uncooked nature of this dish adds a whole new dimension to the richness in flavour and complexity in textures. Finding a wine that goes with raw meat is no easy feat as the protein fibres in the meat haven’t been broken down by cooking, which means it won’t pair well with overly oaky and tannic red wines like cabernet sauvignon. The smooth and somewhat mushy texture in the dish needs a zinfandel, which has a good natural tartness yet still carries enough of a fruity punch that’s balanced by some light oak flavours.
Recommendation: Wente Beyer Ranch Zinfandel, 2014. $115.