Wine Advocate Weekend Pairings: Steak

Whether it's  a marbled rib-eye, petit filet mignon or a hefty Tomahawk, the great and powerful steak can be served up in a myriad of ways, cooked to one's desired temperature and accompanied with sauces like Béarnaise, green peppercorn or jus. 

At popular British steakhouse Hawksmoor in London, executive chef Richard Turner gives his steak a good pat of luscious beef butter that can easily be replicated at home. In New York City, 34-year-old DJ-turned-pitmaster Franco V serves up a “thousand dollar” dry-aged bone-in rib eye steak. (It's actually priced at $130.) And at the recently opened St. Anselm in Washington, D.C., heritage breed meat is antibiotic- and hormone-free and comes from local farms whenever possible. In most cases, it is grass-fed and grain-finished.

“I like my steak aged, à point and a little earthy,” says Mark Squires, reviewer for Portugal, Port, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, much of Eastern Europe and the Eastern United States. “A big, dense and meaty wine that goes well with that in my regions is Alicante Bouschet. There are many good producers in Portugal centered around the region of Alentejo in particular. Producers like Dona Maria and Mouchão have been doing it for a long time. It's become an honorary Portuguese grape, a signature of the region. The October issue will have a powerhouse from Menir, a newer producer.”

For managing editor Joe Czerwinski, nothing tops that of a rib-eye. "The extra fat ensures it will be just that bit more tender than a strip steak, and a little bit more forgiving of a slight attention lapse while it's on the grill," he says. "I like mine somewhere between an inch and an inch-and a-half (30-45 cm) thick. Let it come to room temperature prior to cooking, preheat your favorite grill—you can use a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, just make sure you turn the exhaust hood to high—and season liberally with salt and cracked pepper. Grill over high heat to get a good char on the outside, while staying red and cool in the center. With a rare, fatty steak, I like to pour a wine that's got some acid and tannins to contrast the richness, while having enough weight to balance it somewhat. A young Northern Rhône Syrah, like a 2016 Crozes-Hermitage would work, bringing some of its own peppery, meaty nuances to the table. Another great choice would be an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon. A good steak is worth a splurge, like the 2015 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon if you can find it, but the 2016 Wynns Black Label Cab is less expensive and more widely available. Neither is overly oaky or ripe, so they'll have the structure to balance out the beef."

Oregon reviewer Erin Brooks prefers the classic steak frites—served with a heaping side of Béarnaise sauce. "It's about as decadent of a meal as I can imagine," she says. "The 2013 Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto is the ideal dance partner for steak frites—a strong leader that can handle the fattiness of the beef but softens and becomes fruitier from the saltiness of the fries that competes with its tannins. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, it's powerful and fruity but a touch softer and more approachable than the same vintage of the house's flagship Sassicaia—and much more affordable." 

So grab your favorite cut of meat—and don’t forget to let it rest—and curl up for the weekend. 

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