The 7 Best Wines To Pair With Steak

When it comes to some of our favourite wine and food pairings, big, bold reds and steaks are the ultimate partnership. Red wine and well-marbled beef work together thanks to compounds that combine in our mouths when we merge them, in particular, protein, fat, and tannins. When we talk about serious love matches there’s always an element of chemistry at play and putting steak and red wine together is no exception. Tannins are the compounds in wine that offer a bit of astringency on the gums and tongue. Steak has fat and protein compounds and when you combine these with the tannins in the wine, the fat molecules and the tannins soften and become more pliable so that everything tastes better together rather than separately. For our top picks to pair with beef, we looked to Napa Cabs, a Pinot from Sonoma, and a few Italian reds, so you have options no matter what cut of steak you prefer.

Nickel & Nickel 2018 Dogleg Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena Napa Valley California

Golfers will recognise the origin of this St. Helena vineyard’s name because it looks like a dogleg left hole. Well known for its alluvial and sedimentary soils, the vineyard enjoyed abundant sunshine during the 2018 growing season. The vines experienced long, hot—but not too hot—days with extended hang time for the grapes before harvest. This delightful 2018 vintage has aromas of powdered cocoa, pencil shavings, blueberry pie, and red raspberry that lead to flavours of black plum, cassis, and red currant. Pair this with a well-marbled sirloin.

Elvio Cogno 2018 Ravera Barolo Piedmont Italy

Elvio Cogno purchased an old farmhouse in Novello in 1990 and began making wine from the estate’s 27 acres of vineyards. Over the years he restored the cellar and improved the winery before handing control over to his daughter Nadia and her husband Valter Fissore. We had the pleasure of meeting Valter a few weeks ago for a traditional Italian meal when he visited New York City. We enjoyed all of his wines but the Ravera (named for the hill the winery sits upon) Barolo really stood out. It is deep garnet coloured with aromas of tobacco leaf, eucalyptus, brown baking spices, and red plum. Silky tannins pave the way for flavours of mocha, red currant, black plum, and a touch of dark chocolate in the finish. Enjoy this with a grilled rib eye.

Ornellaia 2021 Bolgheri Tuscany Italy

The 2021 growing season in Bolgheri started with a mild and wet winter that dried up in March and allowed for budbreak in early April. The summer was a bit warmer but remained rain free until the September harvest. Grapes were picked by hand and sorted twice before destemming, ensuring only the most perfect grapes were allowed to ferment. The wine was then aged in 70 percent new oak barrels for 18 months and then an additional 12 months in bottle before release. This enticing wine offers aromas of peppermint, dried Mediterranean herbs, cassis, and black plums. It is full bodied with pleasantly grippy tannins and flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, and plum. It’s drinking beautifully right now, but don’t be afraid to lay this one down to enjoy with a steak in a few years. A Porterhouse will go great either way.

William Cole Vineyards 2014 Cuvée Claire Cabernet Sauvignon St Helena Napa Valley California

William Ballentine was raised in St. Helena and purchased a “ghost winery” originally built in 1873 with his wife and business partner, Jane. His son Cole joined the team and today the family and their staff continue to hand-label and hand-cork every bottle that leaves the winery. Cuvée Claire is named after William and Jane’s youngest daughter and comes from a three-acre parcel on the slopes of Spring Mountain. It is garnet colored with aromas of black currants, cigar box, and ripe blackberry. Silky tannins pave the way for flavors of Morello cherry, cassis, and black raspberry. We enjoyed this with a nice grilled T-bone.

Merriam Vineyards 2022 Eastside Estate Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Sonoma California

Peter Merriam and his wife Diana purchased land for their eponymous estate in 2000 and now split their time between Sonoma and their home in Maine, where Peter enjoys skiing and fly fishing. Merriam Vineyards remains family owned and can be found on the east side of the Russian River in Healdsburg. To make this stunning Pinot Noir they grow clones 828, Calera, and 115 and after harvest and fermentation the wines are aged in 35 percent new French oak barrels. It has aromas of red strawberry, sweet red pepper, and red cherry with soft tannins and flavours of black cherry, Dr. Pepper, and brown baking spices. Pair this with filet mignon au poivre.

Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery 2021 Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena Napa Valley California

Named for the fragrant Linden trees that grace Spottswoode, Lyndenhurst is one of the premier wines on offer from the estate. This delightful wine is made with grapes grown in the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and grapes grown by neighbouring family-owned vineyards. The 2021 opens with aromas of pencil lead, tobacco leaf, and black currants that lead to chewy tannins and flavours of black raspberry, dark cherry, and cedar. Excellent with a N.Y. strip.

Tenuta di Arceno 2020 Arcanum Tuscany Italy

Tenuta di Arceno is in Castelnuovo Berardenga near Sienna in Tuscany. The area has been well known for winemaking since the 16th century because of its proximity to two rivers, the Ambra and the Ombrone. The estate makes wines with both Chianti Classico DOCG classification and Toscana IGT designation. Grapes to make this stunning 100 percent Cabernet Franc are sourced from 12 different blocks and blended together. The 2020 has aromas of peppermint, vanilla, sweet red pepper, and dark cherry. It has silky, yet powerful tannins and flavours of rose petals, red cherry, and red raspberry. Pair this with grilled bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Previously published on Robb Report USA

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