When choosing a wine for a meal, the well-known formula comes to mind – red wine with meat… In fact, this approach raises several questions.
The world of wine is so wide and diverse that it would be wrong to lump all wines from dark grape varieties into one category. It’s the same with meat dishes – they taste completely different and can be prepared just as differently. Accordingly, the choice of wine cannot be so primitive, so let’s try to find out what to pay attention to when matching wine with a specific meat dish.
The first step is to decide how the food will be served. Meat appetizers such as cured meat, tartar, carpaccio, cold roast beef, ham, sausages and other meat products and dishes served cold will not tolerate an overly full partner. In this case, it is necessary to choose a wine with a light and fruity character, good acidity and light tannins.
These can be young wines (up to five years) from regions with a cool climate, without long aging in oak barrels and with a small amount of alcohol. It is preferable that this wine does not exceed 14% strength, because a higher amount of alcohol affects the intensity of the taste, which is unnecessary in this case. Look out for the following red wines – Valpolicella, Chianti, Langhe, Etna in Italy, Bourgogne, Beaujolais in France, but it can also be a wonderful choice in favor of grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo (unaged!), Barbera or Blaufränkish.
If it is a main course that is served hot, then, on the contrary, it is worth looking at wines that are more saturated and more pronounced in taste. As a rule, wines of this style are produced from such grape varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Primitivo, Malbec, Tempranillo, Grenach/Garnacha. The grapes of these varieties like a hot and sunny climate, so the wines are thick and dense.
Tannins! The main thing is for the wine to have a good level of tannins, bright acidity and a long and persistent aftertaste. Steak goes well with bitter Bordeaux wines (Medoc, Pauillac, Margaux, Pomerol, Saint-Emilion) or gorgeous Argentine Malbec. By the way, this variety originates from the Bordeaux region. The taste of Florentine steak will be perfectly highlighted by the velvety Tuscan wines Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG.
Meat stewed in wine
It is not for nothing that when cooking meat stew, wine is often added to give the dish juiciness and tenderness. Therefore, when serving, the drink should also have a rich fruity bouquet and a spicy taste. Spanish wines from Rioja (Rioja Reserva or Gran Reserva), Portugal (Dao region), French wines from the grape variety Cabernet Franc or classic Italian Sangiovese will add flavor to meat dishes.
In Burgundy, the traditional dish Coq au vin is prepared – literally translated, it means “rooster in wine”. In addition, in each village it is claimed that this dish should be prepared from the local wine. Thus, the principle works exactly – what is added to the food, the same is also served with it.
A wine with “smoke” is more suitable for grilled meat, that is, aged in new oak barrels, which gives the wine a slightly smoky aroma. If the meat is grilled over an open fire, you can safely serve powerful and bright Spanish wines from the Priorat region, thick Primitivo from Puglia in Italy or aged wines from the New World – Australia, Napa Valley in America.
If the meat is to be eaten in hot weather, these named wines will be relatively difficult to drink due to their high percentage of alcohol, samples of a calmer nature would be preferable. These can be French wines from Languedoc and the Rhône Valley (Crozes-Hermitage, St. Joseph, Côtes du Rhône), Italian wines from Valpolicella Ripasso, or wines aged in oak barrels from the elegant Pinot Noir variety from Chile or southern Burgundy. The latter can even be slightly chilled to give yourself more pleasure on a steamy summer day.
Traditionally, wines with a characteristic forest bouquet make good company for food made from roe deer, wild boar, elk and other game. Aged wines that are more than ten years old have mature aromas in the bouquet – the smell of moss, mushrooms, fallen needles, wet wood, rotting leaves. Wines from old Rioja and the Italian trio “3 B” – Barolo and Barbaresco from Piedmont and Brunello from Tuscany – can boast such aromas.
For lovers of more powerful wines, we can recommend the Italian wines made from Amarone grapes or the heavy French wine Châteauneuf du Pape.
With poultry, you should think about more delicate and elegant wines from Burgundy (Nuits-St-Georges, Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard).
Marinated meat, which is usually used to prepare shashlik, is not particularly capricious to wine. In addition to the usual red wines, which are often served at gatherings in the fresh air, you can surprise your guests with eccentric orange wines made from white grape varieties or oxidative-style white wines from the Jura region (France). For those who are not ready to enjoy shashlik with white wine, look for an atypical pink wine with a rich structure from the south of France – Tavel; it will definitely give you new gastronomic sensations.
The white tender meat of birds, rabbit, turkey, veal goes well with white wine. A dish prepared in a cream sauce or with butter will be wonderfully highlighted by the oily Chardonnay, if a sauce with mushrooms is intended, old white wines from the Rioja region are suitable, sharper sauces will be complemented by wines from the aromatic varieties Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, while meat stewed in Provencal herbs is ideally enhanced by Provence Rosé.
Only the most popular combinations are mentioned here, tested by time and countless chefs and sommeliers. And yet – challenge and experiment, try new wines with food cooked at home or ordered in a restaurant! Only in this way will you discover a completely new world of self-made gastronomic combinations, with which you can surprise your loved ones and, above all, please yourself.