It's a pairing that you want to get right. We speak to Decanter awards judges and experts about pairing wine with steak and discover that it's not all about the biggest, boldest styles.

What wine to have with steak? Ask Decanter

Argentinian Malbec has become a classic match with steak; its combination of acidity and lush fruit working in tandem with a food that is famous in Argentina in its own right.

But, not all Argentinian Malbecs are the same.

‘I tend to choose a ‘new wave’ Malbec, one with less oak, fresher fruit and better acidity,’ said Patricio Tapia, a regional chair at the Decanter World Wine Awards and a regular contributor to Decanter on South American wines.

‘Especially ones coming from places like Altamira and Gualtallary in the Uco Valley, towards the Andes Mountains.’


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Cabernet is also considered to have the power and structure to stand up to a good steak.

‘A powerful California Cabernet Sauvignon with a grilled steak is pretty hard to beat,’ said Karen McNeil in her 10 rules to food and wine pairing.

Food and wine expert Fiona Beckett also recommends this as one of her top food matches, adding that rarer-cooked meat can handle bigger tannins in general.

Different choices

However, you can look beyond these classic choices too. Beckett says that any medium to full-bodied red can work with steak.

‘I’d urge people to look beyond the traditional matches of Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon with steak,’ said Peter Richards MW, DWWA regional chair for Chile and chairman of Decanter Retailer Awards.

‘How about a nice lively Cabernet Franc? Or may even a Carignan, Cinsault or cool-climate Syrah? Even a full-bodied but elegant rosé can work well on a warm day.’

Matthieu Longuère MS also recommends experimenting with white wine and red meat, such as serving a mature white Rioja.


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What to consider: Cut and sauces

‘On the one hand, it depends what cut the steak is,’ said Richards.

‘For those cuts with more fat or marbling, you need wines with fresher acidity as well as decent texture. For leaner cuts, such as fillet, there are more options to choose from.’

‘Sauces and sides will also be just as important when it comes to the choice of wine. Creamy sauces like béarnaise can go well with an oakier wine. Syrah can work well with peppercorns,’ said Richards.


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‘Always keep in mind that the main task for a glass of wine is to refresh the food,’ said Tapia.

‘These new Malbecs have the right acidity and fine, yet firm tannins to go well with meat – rare in my case.

‘The risk with steak is to think ‘big meaty flavours = big wine’,’ said Richards.

‘I tend to think the opposite. Big meaty flavours actually require a refreshing wine to cleanse the palate between mouthfuls. So something with body and texture but also refreshment value is the key.’


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