Beef is a haven for red wine, effortlessly pairing with almost anything with a degree of success. But if you have splashed out on the Waygu and you want to impress your in-laws, these tips will keep you happily married for another year...

Beef is a great option for Christmas, especially as there are so many different cuts. It is fairly easy to match with red wine without much effort, although more precise pairings depend on three key points – cut, cooking time and  accompaniments.



Cut

Leaner cuts such as sirloin, fillet, silverside and topside lack the richness of flavour that comes from marbling. They make up for this with a tender texture, and so the best wines to take advantage are medium-bodied reds that don’t overpower the flavour, with a high acidity to help cut through the texture of the meat. The Sangiovese-based Petrolo Inarno is a great choice.

Fattier cuts such as rump, fore rib and shin have a deeper flavour than leaner cuts. The Guillaume Gilles Cornas is a good match, as its plentiful tannins help to ‘dissolve’ the fats, while its intense black and red fruit flavours match the richness of the meat.

Cooking time

If you prefer your beef at the rarer end of the spectrum, a rich, juicy wine will work well. The Château de St Cosme Gigondas has plenty of fruit and a lovely juicy character that matches the succulence and tenderness of rare meat.

For medium to well-done beef, the Château Herve Laroque Fronsac fits the bill with its more savoury flavours to reflect the additional roasting time and firm tannins to match the firmer texture of the meat.

Accompaniments

If you are serving mustard, horseradish or a peppercorn sauce, go for a big red that won’t be put off by those strong flavours. A red wine sauce demands a red with ripe, sweet fruit, while a traditional gravy has more savoury elements to it.

Top grape varieties for beef:

Christmas beef and wine: