13 Food And Wine Pairings For Father's Day

Mother's Day tends to involve flowers, brunch dates, and chocolates, and it's easy to go overboard with all of the offerings on the market. Fathers, we've been told, like to golf, drink beer, and perhaps sip from a whiskey as they smoke a cigar. While all that (and much more) can be true, there's nothing like serving your favorite dad a hearty meal with a bottle of wine. Whether it's your parent, your child's father, a brother or a friend doing an excellent job being a dad, these people will appreciate a thoughtful dining experience.

If you're dealing with a true wine aficionado, we have a selection of options that will surely pique their curiosity. And if the dad in your life just likes sipping on a glass of vino, regardless of the color, style, or origin, we've got choices for them, too. We've listed a range of dishes, from easy winners like pizza to snazzier preparations like a surf 'n turf, to satisfy all palates and appetites. Read on to start preparing your Father's Day menu.

1. Steak and cabernet sauvignon

It might not be a novel idea, but there's a reason why steak and cabernet sauvignon frequently show up as an optimal match. Of course, both elements can be customized to taste, whether it's the difference between ribeye and filet mignon, or a cabernet from Bordeaux versus one from Napa. Not to mention, you could splurge on a cut of upscale wagyu beef and a prized bottle from a single vineyard or go with something simpler to satisfy an easy-to-please dad.

If you've never really considered your dad's preferred cut of steak, a New York strip tends to be the most versatile, thanks to its balanced marbling and rich flavor. Tender yet fatty enough to stand up to the bold tannins of cabernet sauvignon, this is a solid option if you need direction. A decadent ribeye would also do the trick, showing your dad that he deserves the best.

California's Decoy winery was originally founded in the '80s as a secondary label for the famed Duckhorn Vineyards, but it has since grown into its own as a consistent and reliable producer in the region offering superb value. The brand's cabernet sauvignon features a small percentage of merlot grapes to round out the flavors with notes of berries. Dark plum, cherry, oak, vanilla, and spice mingle on the palate, the perfect complement to wash down every decadent bite of steak.

2. Lamb rack and xinomavro

A rack of lamb isn't really the type of meal you whip up mid-week for a quick dinner, which makes it particularly suitable for a Father's Day celebration. You don't have to do all that much to make this cut of meat look spectacular on the plate. It's naturally brimming with gamey flavors, and a simple pairing of garlic and herbs or mint sauce is enough to seal the deal. Serve it alongside traditional sides like mashed potatoes and peas, and Dad is sure to be impressed.

Given the notable flavors in the meat, avoid choosing a wine that is overwhelming on the palate. Instead, a light to medium-bodied grape will highlight the star of the dish. Xinomavro is a Greek variety that may not be on every wine shelf, but it's well worth knowing about. Notes of red fruits pair with spices, herbs, and floral aromas in this delicious wine. Pick up a bottle by Thymiopoulos Vineyards, an organic and biodynamic winery seeking to translate the natural expression of the vine into the glass.

3. Pizza and Nero d'Avola

Sure, pizza isn't up to the standards of fine dining, but it's easy to enjoy a satisfying pizza dinner. Not to mention, it's a great candidate for customizations, and you can quickly elevate it by topping it with gourmet ingredients. Burrata cheese, shaved truffles, and caramelized onions will take a basic cheese pizza up a couple of notches, making it worthy of a meal meant to celebrate fathers everywhere. If you're dealing with a meat lover, you'll want to pile the pie high with fennel sausage or thinly sliced salami discs.

Whatever garnishes you're opting for (or perhaps you've set up a make-your-own-pizza station to give Dad the full reins on his pie), an Italian wine makes the ideal companion. The country most widely recognized for the saucy cheesy dish produces exceptional bottles to serve along with it. Nero d'Avola primarily grows in Sicily, though a few vines are found in California and South Australia.

Nevertheless, go straight to the source for Father's Day, with a bottle of Nerojbleo by Gulfi, a reputable Sicilian producer eager to promote the island's terroir. In the glass, expect an elegant body brimming with red fruits, spice, and a hint of vanilla. The intensely rounded taste will stand up to countless toppings without detracting from every delicious bite.

4. Spaghetti & meatballs and sangiovese

In the realm of saucy carb-laden meals, pasta sits pretty high on our list. And while it can serve the purpose of getting a quick and filling dinner on the table in a short amount of time, it is also a comforting dish that comes with a feel-good kick. You could get creative with an array of unique ingredients, but chances are, your dad would love to dig into a plate piled high with spaghetti and meatballs. Grate some fresh Parmesan on top and serve it with a chunk of garlic bread and you won't hear any complaints.

Whereas a classic ragù typically only contains minimal tomato paste, spaghetti, and meatballs tend to load up on red sauce. You'll want a pleasant high-acid wine to balance out the tomato, and the sangiovese grape is up to par. There's nothing like a family-owned winery to boost the Father's Day spirit. Famiglia Castellani's Chianti Riserva is aged in large oak casks for a smooth finish. Cherry and strawberry aromas are present in every sip, with notable tannins to cleanse the palate.

5. Ribs and cabernet franc

Ribs are the ultimate meat-lovers delight, whether it's pork, beef, or lamb. Sauced up and slow-cooked or charred on the grill, they make an excellent centerpiece for a Father's Day feast. The essence of the cut is all about the fatty umami taste, and whatever seasoning is smothered over the meat plays a big role too. You could dress up the meal with gourmet ingredients, but when it comes down to it, there's no being pretentious with ribs.

For a bold yet unpretentious wine that will match a rib-centric meal, we recommend picking up a bottle of cabernet franc. Less common than its famous offspring cabernet sauvignon, this flavor-packed wine brings all the qualities we love in a cab. With notes of red fruit, bell peppers, and a hint of spice, this medium-bodied red is sure to please. Fine examples are produced across the grape-growing world, including in New York state.

Ravines Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes region is a small-scale winery run by a husband and wine duo. Sustainable and low-intervention viticultural practices showcase the fruit front and center. The cabernet franc is ripe with flavors of dark juicy berries alongside baking spices and a mineral finish. Barbecue sauce or a Chinese five-spice rub are a couple of ways to highlight this pairing.

6. Osso buco and Barolo

If you're looking for a hearty meal to serve on Father's Day, slowly braised meat is a reliable option. Depending on the weather, keeping your oven hot for a handful of hours might not be ideal. However, if the AC is running strong and you're looking for a rich meal to show your dad you care, osso buco is a great option. The braised veal recipe mostly consists of hands-off efforts, so you'll have plenty of time to decant your bottle and let the wine aerate.

While decanting isn't a necessary step with most ready-to-drink wines, a tannic red grape like nebbiolo calls for it. Famously from Barolo, the region that popularized it, this variety fares well with a decade of aging, though you'll pay in consequence for older vintages. A good compromise is to get a bottle at your price point and simply decant it a few hours prior to dinner to soften out the tannins.

If your dad is fond of fine wines, treat him with a bottle of Barolo by Silvio Grasso, yet another family-owned winery. The wine features a delicate balance of earth, smoke, and leather notes paired with red fruit and woodsy aromas. Serve it with a steaming plate of osso buco with polenta for a succulent meal your father will remember until next year.

7. Spicy chicken wings and gewürztraminer

Chicken wings bring joy to finger food lovers everywhere, so you'll want to set out a platter to get the Father's Day festivities moving. Whether you're doing brunch, an afternoon barbecue, or Sunday dinner, there's room for chicken wings on the table. Show your dad you have faith in him by dousing the wings in hot sauce or letting them soak up a spicy marinade before firing up the grill.

Sure, beer and chicken wings make a common duo, but this is a special occasion after all. It's worth seeking an elevated accompaniment to the sticky bar food to make it clear this isn't just any ordinary day. Gewürztraminer is a richly aromatic grape that offers the perfect balance of flavor and hints of residual sugar to match a pile of spicy chicken wings. Named after the German word for spice (gewürz) and the town of Tramin in South Tyrol, which claims to be the birthplace of the variety, this juicy wine showcases notes of rose, tropical fruit, and spices. Try a bottle by Cantina Tramin, a noteworthy winery cooperative in the region.

8. Surf 'n turf and chardonnay

When the day is all about you, the fewer limits you have on the feasting, the better. The same goes for your dad — why make him choose between lobster and steak when you can serve him both? Surf 'n turf is an excellent opportunity to provide the best of the land and sea. While a whole lobster and filet mignon are really taking this dish to luxe levels, you can keep it budget friendly by grilling shrimp to serve alongside a burger. Whatever you go for, just keep Dad's favorites in mind.

It's easy to get stuck in the mindset that red meat equals red wine, but there's far more nuance to the pairing, especially when a sumptuous addition like lobster is in the equation. Prep your proteins with plenty of butter and serve this decadent meal along with a chardonnay wine from Burgundy. Jean-Claude Boisset is a leading producer in the region and the wine from Marsannay is a true ode to this popular grape. Ripe pear and honeysuckle are present on the palate with toasted wood and spiced aromas rounding it out with a rich finish.

9. Beef Wellington and red Bordeaux

Some recipes are clearly special occasion worthy, and that's certainly the case with beef Wellington. For the uninitiated, one story suggests that the dish is a tribute to Duke Wellington to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Waterloo, though its history is sometimes traced to French origins. More importantly, the regal dish involves a beef filet coated in foie gras or mushrooms, rolled in a shortcrust pastry, and baked until the shell is golden and flaky. It is an absolute feast for the eyes and the stomach and a surefire way to make your dad feel like a king — no battles required.

Serve this traditional preparation with a classic wine that is praised worldwide: a Bordeaux red blend. While you could pay a pretty penny for some wines from this prestigious region, that's not necessary to guarantee a bottle made with quality. Château Bellevue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is an excellent wine for oenophiles and amateurs alike. Made with merlot, this bottle showcases notes of dark fruits with floral undertones. With a lively acidity on the palate and structured tannins that pair seamlessly with the beef and rich pastry, this wine is a definite winner.

10. Chili and grenache

There's no appetite a hearty bowl of chili won't satisfy, and what's more, the dish is easily customizable to taste. If your dad's watching his red meat intake, swap the ground beef with turkey. Meanwhile, if he's into unique flavors and always up for trying something new, seek out ground game meat for a bison chili recipe or venison to transform a standard recipe. Chili is a great option to make in the slow cooker if your Father's Day plans are leading you away from home during important meal-prepping hours.

You'll want to pair this flavor-packed meal with a bold wine brimming with fruity notes. Grenache is grown in several countries globally, but it takes on a unique flair in the vineyards of Sardinia. On the Italian island, it goes by the name cannonau and it displays floral, fruity, and spiced aromas with a smooth finish. Whether you opt for beef, turkey, or bison, or skip the meat altogether, a bottle of cannonau by Sella & Mosca is the ideal complement.

11. Pork belly and riesling

Pork belly gets a lot of love, and we're not just talking about bacon. When this cut is roasted low and slow, the meat becomes decadently tender until it practically melts in your mouth. By raising the heat at the end of the cooking time, the top layer of fat becomes crispy and crackly — yet another boost for the flavor and texture. If you want to show the number one dad in your life that you care, a dinner featuring roasted pork belly might be all it takes.

Pair this salty fatty pork dish with a crisp wine to cleanse the palate. Riesling is an excellent candidate thanks to its naturally high levels of acidity. While the grape is most commonly associated with Germany, the bordering French region of Alsace (once part of German territory) produces praiseworthy versions as well. Pick up a bottle of riesling from family-owned winery Jean Biecher & Fils for a taste of citrus fruit and white flowers. Alsace cuisine includes plenty of pork-based meals, which makes the local wine a classic match with this hearty protein dish.

12. Beer-can chicken and pinot noir

If your dad is a beer lover at heart, you can still incorporate his favorite beverage into your dinner plans. Beer-can chicken involves grilling a whole bird upright with a can in its cavity. While people tend to be divided over the actual influence of the fluid itself, one thing is clear: The method forces the chicken to stand upright as it cooks. The result is an even browning and deliciously crispy skin all the way around. Rub the bird with your dad's favorite spice mix and he'll forget that the beer isn't in his glass — especially when he samples what you've poured instead.

Burgundy is the heartland of pinot noir, and the local viticultural tradition has elevated the variety to impressive heights. With prestigious bottles selling for more than some down payments, the idea of forking over for a bottle of Burgundy can be daunting. Thankfully, it's not all five-digit price tags, and consumers can find well-made bottles for less than $100. Look for wines labeled under the regional Burgundy AOC for a more affordable option. Bouchard Père & Fils produces an excellent pinot noir réserve that pairs delightfully with a serving of roasted beer-can chicken, potatoes, and greens. With notes of ripe black and red fruits and earthy hints, this smooth wine is a winning combination.

13. Vegetarian lasagna with viognier

If hearty meals are your dad's favorite, lasagna is sure to be a hit. It's an excellent way to customize the dish to his exact preference and an easy recipe to prep ahead of time. While meat-based versions get a lot of love, take the opportunity of making it from scratch to include a novel assortment of ingredients. Layers of thinly sliced vegetables like eggplant and zucchini are delicious combined with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Or, help your dad load up on greens by whipping up a spinach and ricotta lasagna. Perhaps you want to play up the dad jokes with your menu by serving him a mushroom lasagna and making incessant comments about fungi.

Whatever the components, serve a vegetable-forward lasagna with viognier. The rich white wine is full-bodied with a round palate, and it's the perfect option to serve as a lighter counterpart to red wine. Pick up a bottle by Stags' Leap winery in Napa (not to be confused with the highly exclusive Stag's Leap Wine Cellar). Nevertheless, the wine estate is still recognized as one of the oldest and most reputable ones in the region, and the viognier is well worth your time. Fragrant notes of flower blossoms mingle with stone fruits, lime, vanilla, and honey. The crisp acidity makes this an excellent match with cheese, while the smooth finish lingers on the palate.