What Wine Goes with Beef? A Guide to Perfect Pairings

Beef is a versatile protein that can be prepared in endless ways, from quick weeknight burgers to special occasion prime rib roasts. With so many beef dishes to choose from, it can be tricky to select the right wine pairing. However, there are a few guiding principles that make it easier to determine what wine goes with beef.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular wines paired with beef. This bold red grape from Bordeaux often has aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, tobacco and bell pepper. Cabernet Sauvignon has sturdy tannins and a full body that allows it to stand up to the rich, fatty flavors of beef. Leaner cuts like filet mignon benefit from Cab’s structured acidity, while fattier cuts like ribeye can handle its firm grip. Cabernet is a great choice for grilled steaks as well as pot roasts and other braised beef dishes. Both young, fruit-forward Cabs and aged, complex versions work well. Some specific regions known for Cabernet excellence include Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Coonawarra and Margaret River.

Grenache and GSM Blends

The grape Grenache produces light, fruity reds that may not seem an obvious match for hearty beef at first. However, when blended with Syrah and Mourvedre in the Southern Rhone style known as “GSM,” the mix of flavors and textures works brilliantly. The peppery Syrah adds savory depth, while the structure and tannins of Mourvedre provide support. Together, they balance the bright cherry flavors of Grenache. These medium-bodied reds have a smooth, fleshy texture that complements beef’s richness without overpowering it. Grilled beef and stewed beef dishes are enhanced by the complex flavors of GSM blends from regions like Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras and Paso Robles.


Hailing from Bordeaux but made famous in Argentina, Malbec offers plush dark fruit with notes of chocolate and spice. Its velvety palate and moderate tannins work well with fattier cuts of beef like ribeye and short ribs. The fruitiness of Malbec is substantial enough to complement beef’s savory qualities without competing. Young, unoaked styles from high altitude regions like Salta and Uco Valley make excellent pairings for simply grilled steaks or meaty kebabs. Meanwhile, more robust examples from Mendoza’s Lujan de Cuyo with oak aging are ideal for heartier braised beef dishes like short ribs.


Shiraz from Australia and Syrah from France have similar flavor profiles marked by blackberry, plum, white pepper and smoke. These medium to full-bodied reds have soft tannins that won’t clash with the tender texture of beef. Their touch of black pepper spice enhances beef’s natural savoriness. Cool climate Syrah from regions like the Northern Rhone has focused dark fruit that works with filet, while Barossa Shiraz has riper jams notes that match fattier ribeyes. Grilled meat hot off the barbeque is a great pairing for an easy-drinking Shiraz. Aged Hermitage or Barossa Valley examples can handle the intensity of roast beef or beef bourguignon.

Aged Nebbiolo

The tannic grape Nebbiolo may not seem an intuitive pairing for beef at first. However, when given some time to age into a more harmonious state, Nebbiolo-based reds like Barolo and Barbaresco are divine with beef. As the assertive tannins soften and integrate, they provide an elegant foil for meat’s richness. The complexity of truffle, rose, tar and wild berry flavors in aged Barolo is heavenly with a tender, rare roast beef or steak. Leaner cuts like filet with jus or carpaccio also benefit from Barolo’s ethereal structure. Bolder, more concentrated Barbarescos can match robust braised beef dishes.

Traditional White Rioja

While red wine dominates beef pairings, some whites work as well. Aged, oaked white Rioja has a rich, textured mouthfeel that interplays tastefully with savory meat. The lanolin, beeswax and almond flavors meld with umami beef notes, while oak offers subtle spice. White Rioja’s crisp acidity also cuts through beef’s fattiness. Full-bodied, nutty examples with extended lees aging provide contrast to rich Prime rib and dry aged steaks. Lighter, fresher styles complement leaner cuts like filet mignon. This unconventional pairing provides an exciting alternative to classic red wines.

General Tips for Pairing Wine with Beef

  • Match weight and intensity of wine to cut of beef – bolder wines with fattier cuts

  • Leaner cuts can take light reds as well as fuller-bodied whites

  • Acidity refreshes, so higher acid wines work with rich meat

  • Tannins help cut fat and protein, so tannic reds complement beef

  • Pepper, oak and earth notes enhance beef’s savory umami flavors

  • Go for fruit-forward young reds with simple grilled beef

  • Choose complex, aged reds for slow-cooked, tender braised beef dishes

  • Char of grilled beef loves smoky, meaty Syrah/Shiraz

  • Sweeter barbecue sauces need a fruity, spice-friendly red like Zinfandel

With a wide spectrum of beef preparations and numerous wine options, it may require some experimentation to discover one’s perfect wine and beef match. Keeping these guidelines in mind makes narrowing down the ideal pairing easier. When in doubt, a classic Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec are versatile choices guaranteed to please. Being open to lesser-known grapes like Nebbiolo and unconventional whites like Rioja also opens up exciting possibilities. With so many excellent wines available today, there is a perfect match for every cut and preparation of beef.

Wine Tips for Steak and Seafood!


What wine goes with beef red or white?

Red wine is what you should choose to go with a steak. It’s easy to remember – red meat gets red wine. Beef is typically accompanied by a red – while a “white” meat like chicken or fish is best served with a white. Some meat, like pork, don’t fit neatly in either category – and can be paired with either.

What is the best wine to cook with beef?

Best red wine for cooking beef – Merlot Red wine and beef are a match made in heaven. While most medium-dry red wine varietals work well in beef dishes; a Merlot, with its medium tannins and moderate body is an excellent choice.

What kind of wine goes with ground beef?

For a classic ground beef burger, consider some of the go-to red meat wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. A juicy Grenache or classic ‘GSM’ blend could also be a great accompaniment to a night of comfort food, as recommended in our guide to choosing a barbecue wine.

What wine do you drink with steak?

Wines with a heavier tannic profile, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, are better suited to well marbled cuts such as ribeye and strip steak, while lighter tannins, such as those in Pinot Noir or Syrah, are a more desirable choice with leaner cuts like filet mignon or top sirloin.

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