The Absolute Best Wines To Pair With Steak

In many ways, there are few pairings that are more satisfying than steak with wine.

And although there might be white wine options — champagne with carpaccio or an aged oaked white Rioja with a seared filet might fit nicely — to really match the weight, body, and intensity of red meat, a red wine is usually the most harmonizing choice. "Proteins and fat in steak love and soften the tannins and acidity in big reds, having complementing richness," Richard Vayda, Director of Wine & Beverage Studies at the Institute of Culinary Education, told Tasting Table.

However, with steak and red wine, it is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. "Consider first the cut and quality of the meat. Is it a fatty steak like rib eye, a leaner filet, or a lower fat round? Then, the various qualities available — rich marbled Wagyu or prime, sparer select or grass-fed? Has it been treated to the simpler wet-aging or given more complexity with dry-aging? How does the method of cooking affect the dish? Sautéed, pan-seared, broiled or grilled? Have there been any other flavors added? Cooking with fragrant wood, a rub, marinade or a sauce?" said Vayda. So many variables to consider!

But not to fret. Although you should drink the wine you like, with all the myriad of variations that steak dishes potentially offer, a little examination might yield more satisfying mates.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon and steak are the love and marriage, horse and carriage go-to pairing. "Be it a big, fruity Napa Cab, an earthy barn-yardy Bordeaux Cabernet blend, or a bold Australian Cab, but there are other cowboys at this rodeo," Laura Pauli, Chef & Certified Sommelier at Cucina Testa Rossa told Tasting Table. "I certainly won't say no to a glass of Cab wherever it's from, but given the choice, these days, I channel my inner Stanley Tucci and head to Italy."

A great ribeye is in need of two things: tannin and acid. "Those ordering a ribeye love it for its decadence," sommelier Amanda McCrossin told Tasting Table.

But striking a balance and not getting overwhelmed five bites in by the richness of the steak requires a wine that won't give you palate fatigue. "The key to this is finding a wine that has enough tannin to stand up to it but that doesn't overwhelm with more richness in the way of fleshy fruit and lacking acidity, such as a California Cabernet from a cooler mountain site like the Moon Mountain District in Sonoma, which experiences cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay," said McCrossin.

When considering a Cabernet, some great options include Tussock Jumper Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 of Argentina, 2017 Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon, or Los Vascos Cromas Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva 2018.


"Nebbia is Italian for fog and the most prestigious vineyards are above the fog line that blankets the valley below," Laura Pauli, Chef & Certified Sommelier, Cucina Testa Rossa told Tasting Table.

Nebbiolo is a full-bodied red wine with deceptive floral and delicate red berry aromas. Your brain anticipates a light wine, only to be surprised with a palate of big red fruit flavors of cherry and raspberries, earthy leather, red clay, herbs, coffee, clove, and anise with sandpaper-drying tannins that demand ample fatty, salty umami-packed food. A mouth-watering grilled steak answers the call. Throw a spoonful of bleu cheese butter on top, and you've reached nirvana. Frank Sinatra might just start singing.

There's nothing quite like an aged Nebbiolo. In fact, it may be the best companion for dry-aged steaks. "Any back-vintage bottles with some age — we're talking ten years or more — is bound to be a winner," fine and rare wine expert Walker Strangis, CEO of Walker Wine Co. in Los Angeles, told Tasting Table.

Over time, pure expressions of aged Nebbiolo gain extraordinary elegance while retaining those beautiful tar and rose notes we love about Piedmont. "I'm really into the wines of Giacomo Borgogno, and the red cap originals are examples of traditional wine-making at its best. [They pair] especially with well-marbled steaks from butchers like Flannery Beef. Dry-aging at its finest," said Strangis.

When seeking a Nebbiolo, some great options are G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe, Pio Cesare or Renato Ratti Ochetti Nebbiolo.


For leaner cuts of beef, go bold with a Malbec. Rich and full of tannins with lots of fruit on the palate, this variety is well matched with flank steak or top sirloin, and it is an incredibly popular option on steakhouse wine lists. For good reason!

"Malbec is my classic recommendation for pairing with steak, with generous layers of fruit, firm tannic and acid structures, and secondary notes of savory grilled herbs elevating each bite," Andrew Lohse, CMS Certified Sommelier, told Tasting Table.

When pairing wine with steak, one must consider a few variables: first, the cut of the steak, and secondly, the preparation. "Softer cuts of steak like filet mignon or porterhouse are best with wines like Malbec," Anna Maria Kambourakis, a certified sommelier and wine blogger at Unraveling Wine, told Tasting Table.

When shopping for a Malbec, some great options to look into include Tussock Jumper 2019 Malbec, Trivento Reserve Malbec, or Septima Malbec.


Zinfandel is a great dynamic red wine with awesome domestic options, and it's known to pair with well steak because it's intensely aromatic and teeming with dark red, juicy fruit characteristics. Whether going for a California Zin or one from abroad, it is unique in its complexity and flavor — much like a great steak!

"Think jammy cherry pie with spicy hints of black pepper to balance it out. You can find exemplary styles all over California from Sonoma down the Central Coast and then inland to Lodi and Fresno. Zinfandel tends to have a higher alcohol content, which makes it perfect for braised meats and BBQ," Natascha Patterer, CMS Certified Sommelier, told Tasting Table.

There's another benefit of that Zinfandel. "Offset those grill marks with a fruity Zinfandel," Richard Vayda, Director of Wine & Beverage Studies at the Institute of Culinary Education, told Tasting Table.

When looking for a Zinfandel, some great ones to check out include Oak Farm Vineyards 2017 Zinfandel, Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, or 7 Deadly Zins 2017 Zinfandel.

Super Tuscans

When you take a visit to Florence or Tuscany, you will often see bold grilled steaks paired with Super Tuscan wines. There's a reason for that!

"I prefer to pair steaks with Super Tuscans. Super Tuscans should be rich and complex with a beautifully layered story from the first scent to the last drop," Melissa Davis, Bar Manager at Evo Italian in Tequesta, Florida, told Tasting Table. Cabernet-based Super Tuscans make the best choice.

Davis' favorites are Il Bruciato by Guado Al Tasso. "The Antinori family has hundreds of years of experience, not only in wine-making but also in setting the standards of quality. They give a whole new meaning to a family business. They strive to produce quality with their farming practices," said Davis.

The same goes for quality beef. "I am a steak lover. The process that goes into selecting the best cut of steak and preparation should be complemented by a rich, well-layered wine. A brilliance in balance. [It should offer] something sweet to the nose with a spicy finish to compliment the quality of the steak," said Davis.

Some great Super Tuscan wines include Il Bruciato by Guado Al Tasso, 2018 Aia Vecchia "Lagone" Toscana IGT, or 2019 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina.


Tempranillo is spicy and meaty itself, which always works well with the juiciness of a steak. "Steaks are normally hit with salt and pepper before grilling, and this seriously takes it to the next level," Michele Gargiulo, Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, Executive Bourbon Steward, and Certified Sake Advisor, told Tasting Table.

The tannins are more angular, like a Cabernet, which works perfectly with an extra-fatty cut, such as the ever-popular ribeye.

"One of my favorite wine pairings for steak is Tempranillo, particularly with a grilled steak," Jessie McKeon of Vara Winery & Distillery told Tasting Table. Red meat responds to the lower acidity and well-integrated tannins in a Tempranillo. They are "typically made without an overabundance of new wood influence, which enhances its food-friendliness. The flavors of strawberry, black pepper, and tobacco in classic Tempranillo compliment a steak beautifully," said McKeon.

Some fabulous Tempranillos include 2019 Fuerza de la Tierra Tempranillo and Vara 2018 American Tempranillo.


Touriga Nacional is a grape grown often in Portugal, although it is gaining popularity, and it's a perfect mate for a great steak.

Wine Folly states that the wine pairs particularly well with red meat, as well as game, as both "stand up to the earthy funk in this wine." 

Touriga may not be as known as other varietals, but it's on the rise and has some pretty major roots. "Bordeaux experimentally planted some of these grapes a few years ago in response to climate change. The fruit character on it is dark-fruited, with some serious plushy tannin. It is structurally like Merlot but more earth-driven," Michele Gargiulo, Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, Executive Bourbon Steward, and Certified Sake Advisor, told Tasting Table.

This particular varietal should be excellent with the leaner cuts of steak, such as the always-popular filet. When looking for a Touriga, some great ones include Field Theory Touriga Nacional or Montaria Capital Red 2018.