Steak and Wine – A Match Made in Culinary Heaven

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Photo by Hotel du Vin & Bistro licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Peanut butter and jelly.  Yin and Yang.  Eggs and ketchup (hey, don’t judge).  Some pairings just naturally seem like matches made heaven.  This is especially true for food combinations where tastes, textures and even temperatures can interplay to form mouthwatering delights that leave diners in a state of food coma induced bliss.

When it comes to culinary pairings, few things hold a candle to the classic combination of a glass of good wine with steak.  Make the meat gourmet steaks from the Chicago Steak Company and you have a recipe for next-level greatness, but we digress.  A fine red wine, paired with steak compliments the palette and tickles the taste buds for savory, sweet and sour in a distinct combination that few other foods can accomplish.  But what exactly makes the magic happen with steak and wine pairings and which wines are the best to drink with steak?  If these are the questions that haunt you at night never fear.  We’ve got everything you need to know to get you pairing wine with steak like a pro.

The Science Behind the Taste

Before we delve into the where, what and how, we need to talk about why.  We are Steak University, after all, and no discussion of the intricacies of a topic this beefy would be complete without a science lesson, or two.  Palettes the world over are instinctively drawn to pairing good wine with steak.  Taste buds of all shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds know this culinary truth.  While some of the romanticism may admittedly come from centuries old traditions or more modern marketing campaigns, such a staple combo wouldn’t have endured without some natural, well-earned reinforcement.

Enter the science.  As it turns out, something very particular happens when you consume red wine with steak.  Molecules in red wine called tannins soften fats in the meat, helping to release the taste of beefy goodness.  The fat in turn softens the astringent qualities of the wine, helping to mellow the beverage and produce a juicier, more fruit forward flavor.  The result is a never ending cycle of food and drink symbiosis, sure to melt even the dullest of pallets.

Red or White, Everybody Wins

While red wine with steak may be the classic pairing, white wines aren’t exempt from the party either.  The acid in a glass of dry white wine has a similar impact on beef as tannin’s.  White wine also tends to taste best when served chilled, which can create a lovely temperature contrast between a sizzling steak and cool sip of white or rose.  In short, if you’re more of a chardonnay fan, you are still invited to the steak and wine pairing party.

Ignore the Price Tag

You may have been avoiding steak and wine pairings in the past thinking that a quality bottle of wine would end up breaking your meal budget.  Or perhaps the labels, brands and varietals all leave you a bit overwhelmed with the number of choices and variations when it comes to which wine to drink with your steak.  Dry, full-bodied reds tend to compliment red meat the best, but how to know exactly which wines on the shelf are likely to fit the bill?

Instead of looking at price tags or which label artwork has the most fleur-de-lis in the design, try making your selection based on region the next time you’re perusing your local wine shop.  Shopping for good steak pairing wines is ideally done by growing region as an area’s soil, weather and production characteristics tend to be consistent across all vintners within a certain territory.  Don’t just take our word for it though.  Sommelier Nick Knight advises to go with the regional experts when it comes to steak and wine pairings. “If there’s one culinary staple in Argentina, it’s steak. Malbec is a natural, full-bodied pairing for all cuts of red meat. Look for smaller producers from Mendoza, and pair with a nice chimichurri steak sauce.”

Raise a Toast for Us

We hope we’ve given you a few pointers to consider the next time you’re debating which wine to drink with steak.  Remember that beginning with quality ingredients, such as high quality, top of the line, gourmet Chicago Steak Company steaks and a deep, rich wine from an experienced vineyard, will set you on the road to success no matter your skill level in wine and steak pairings.  Finally, whether it be weeks spent dry aging beef, or years aging old vintages in oak casks, great tastes are worth the wait.  So the next time you’re enjoying a fine steak meal, don’t be afraid to raise a glass, or two, for us and impress your friends and family with your newfound wine and steak pairing knowledge.