Food & Drink Tuesday, September 20th Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: Rude Wines, illustration by Adam Knight/Vecteezy

What a lovely pair!: Rude Wines simple guide to finding the perfect partner to your steak

Food & Drink Tuesday, September 20th

What a lovely pair!: Rude Wines simple guide to finding the perfect partner to your steak

We’ve all been there. You‘ve got someone coming round, so you hit the supermarket, grab a few choice-looking steaks from the butcher’s kiosk and then swing by the wine aisle.

You edge towards the reds (*more on this later), and stand there giving the shelves a once over with an expression on your face that could be mistaken for deep and genuine consideration by your fellow shoppers.  

If you’re anything like us, what you’re actually doing is pricing up the top-end bottles currently on offer, giving a cursory glance to the three-quid plonk, and then waiting the appropriate amount of time before grabbing the same £6 bottle you buy every time you’re in there.

Now regardless of how well this strategy has served you in the past, there is another way.

We got the experts at Ledbury’s Rude Wines to give us a simple 'Wine And Steak 101' - laying out in seven steps what goes with what and why.

Like sex, even when wine and steak are bad – they’re still pretty good. But if you use this handy guide you can take your tastebuds to the next level.


1. Why you should care...

Rude says: The gateway to food and wine pairing for many of us, the combination of steak and wine can be a thing of beauty, but plumping for your usual glass of red might not always bring out the best in the meat. As many a steak aficionado will testify, different cuts of meat offer their own unique flavour and texture.

grape 311011 960 7202. *Is White wine and steak a no-no?

Rude says: Contrary to popular belief, you can match white wines to red meat but it pays to know your cut of meat and how you like it cooked.

Richer, heavier whites such as oaked Chardonnays or Semillons will have a discernible structure, so will pair nicely to leaner cuts of meat, as will very fruity, oaked wines such as South African Chenin Blanc.

Older whites can also develop more savoury flavours as they evolve which can prove to be a good contrast with steaks served with sauces such as béarnaise.

barville cotes du rhone


3. Good with fillet and leaner cuts

Rude says: If you’re serving lean fillet steak, try a light-ish style of red such as the Grenache-based Côtes du Rhône Esprit de Barville or a smooth Pinot Noir from Napa Cellars.

These supple, fruity styles have some oak ageing but a light touch and crisp acidity.

Chamonix Rouge



4. Good with Sirloin

Rude says: Fuller flavoured but still relatively lean, Sirloin will pair nicely with a medium bodied style.

Classic Bordeaux works wonders – try the Château Bonnin-Pichon with its softly aromatic cassis fruit and smooth tannins or try a South African Bordeaux blend such as the Chamonix Rouge from Franshhoek. 




5. Good with ribeye and richer cuts

Rude says: For the ultimate Ribeye pairing, head to the richer, fuller reds with good tannic structure to balance out the fattiness in the meat.

The Show Cabernet Sauvignon from California hits the spot with its dense fruit and powdery tannins, as does the Alto de la Ballena blend of Tannat, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Uruguay – home of great steak!


6. Why is wine so damn good with steak?

Rude says: Wine, and in particular red wine, combines fruit (and other secondary) flavours with acidity and tannins, the latter coming from the grape skins, pips and from any time spent in oak barrels.

Some reds are made from grapes with very thick skins (such as Cabernet Sauvignon) so the resulting wine will have noticeable tannins. Thin-skinned grapes (think Pinot Noir) will have correspondingly fewer tannins or a lighter structure. You’ll taste tannins in your mouth as a drying sensation, similar to sucking on a teabag or a banana skin (if the mood takes you).


7. Hold on, what's a 'tannin' - and why do I want one?

Rude says: They may not sound particularly appetising but tannins provide the key to successful meat and wine pairing, as they will effectively ‘square up’ to the protein and ‘melt’ the fat content of the meat, while the meat protein softens the power of the wine.

So the rule of thumb is to match fattier cuts of steak with fuller bodied reds, and lighter reds with leaner cuts.

If you’re getting stuck in with marinades or stronger sauces, take this in to consideration and look for wines with more intense fruit flavours.


Rude Wines are an awesome online wine retailer whose bring top quality tipple to your door without the kind of wine snobbery you may associate with some sites. Check them out here.

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