Wine with Meat
With all of the following suggestions, do think about the sauces and seasonings you are using, and try to match the wine to these, as they are often more powerful than the meat itself.
Continue to think about the weight of your food, so the heavier the dish, the weightier and more full-bodied the wine can be.
Generally, red meats are better with red wines, but there are no hard and fast rules here. If you really do not like red wine, there are plenty of white wines you can try or vice versa.
Remember that enzymes present in meat will soften the tannins in wine, and tannin levels decrease with age.
Also remember that warmer climates produce more full bodied wines, and the same is true for warmer years.
Matching the dish to the wines of the country is always a safe bet, as local cuisine has evolved over many years to compliment the region's wines. This is a fun thing to do and you can plan whole themed dinners around this idea.
With roast beef you are spoilt for choice as it goes beautifully with many red wines, Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux Blends, South African Pinotage, Syrah/Shiraz and both Northern and Southern Rhône Blends.
With Steak, don’t forget Argentinian Malbec – it’s the countries signature red grape variety and they know a thing or two about beef! If you are not all that keen on red wine, you could try a full bodied Chardonnay with your steak.
However, watch out for roast beef’s classis partner – Yes I mean horseradish! This accompaniment is notoriously difficult to pair with wines, as is tangy English mustard, although Dijon is quite food friendly.
Veal has a delicate flavour, so medium-bodied whites are better here if the meat is simply cooked. For something different, try Italy’s Orvieto, or Austria’s signature white grape variety, Grüner Veltliner. Although more full bodied, Pinot Gris is also a nice match with veal, especially if the meat is cooked in a creamy sauce.
If you want a red, make it a soft, gentle Pinot Noir.
Roast lamb is magnificent with Cabernet Sauvignon, either as a single varietal or in a blend – try a classic Bordeaux or a Bordeaux Blend from the New World. It’s also a fantastic match with Rioja and wines from Ribera del Duero. Merlot and Chianti also work well with lamb.
The accompaniment to beware of this time is mint sauce – it’s the vinegar in it that’s the killer – it flattens the flavour of wine. However, the acidity in fruity young reds that are not too tannic will balance this out.
Nothing too tannic, but Pork pairs nicely with many light bodied red wines, like Pinot Noir and Tempranillo. It also loves medium and full bodied whites like Chardonnay, ripe Semillon, spicy Pinot Gris, and aromatic Viognier. However, do be mindful of the accompanying apple sauce – an appley Chenin would compliment this nicely – try a dry Vouvray from the Loire.
Dry Rieslings, both German and Australian, go surprisingly well with cold roast pork!
Follow the same rules for chicken in terms of white wines, but for a red, try a Beaujolais or Cabernet Franc from the Loire.
GAME MEATS – VENISON
You need a powerful wine to stand up to the strong, intense flavours of game, and Syrah is a wonderful match, especially those from the Northern Rhône – look at Crôzes-Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie or St-Joseph from across the river, are often a relative bargain. Don’t forget fine Australian Shiraz’s too. For other good matches look to Spain’s Ribera del Duero and Priorat, the USA’S Zinfandel, South Africa’s Pinotage and Italy’s Barolo and Barbaresco, which are both made from the Nebbiolo grape variety.
Game dishes are often served with fruit based sauces, so bear in mind the inherent flavours in your accompaniments when choosing your wine.
GAME BIRDS – PARTRIDGE, PHEASANT, PIGEON, GROUSE
With the pronounced meaty flavours of game birds, treat yourself to a fine silky red Burgundy or an earthy Côtes du Rhône . For anything really gamey, try the Lebanese Château Musar!
If you want a white – choose a ripe full bodied Australian Semillon.
Best to avoid tannic wines here. Roast chicken and chicken in creamy sauce love chardonnay that has seen some oak, because the buttery nuances are echoed in the wine. If you are not a fan of Chardonnay, try a Semillon – Australia has some stunners. A Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc, both from Alsace, are also worth trying, and New Zealand have some fabulous Pinot Gris.
For plainly cooked chicken, try a less full-bodied wine like an Italian Soave or Frascati.Or if you want a red – then Pinot Noir is a good match.
Whereas chicken pairs very well with white wines, red wines generally suit turkey better. With all the confusing flavours of a traditional English Christmas dinner, a fruit driven wine is a good match – try an Australian Shiraz, fruity Beaujolais, ripe Merlot, Tempranillo, Garnacha/Grenache or Pinot Noir, especially smooth New Zealand Pinots.
Also look at Zinfandel, as the USA’s signature red grape variety it is often served with the Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
If you do want to have a white wine, a full bodied Chardonnay that has seen some oak will pair nicely – an un-oaked Chardonnay would not stand up to the rich flavours of a Christmas dinner – oak matches the weight of the food. Look at White Burgundies, and Chile have some lovely examples too.
Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chianti cut through this sweet, fatty bird. Malbec is another great match and, if you want something really different, try a dark, fruity, Sparkling Shiraz from Australia!
Duck is another meat that is often served with fruity sauces, notably cherries and orange, so bear this in mind.
You need a full bodied white wine to stand up to the rich flavour of this meat and Pinot Gris is fantastic with goose. Try one from Alsace or New Zealand. Chenin also pairs well, and there are many lovely examples from the Loire and South Africa.
If you are looking for something a little different, take a tip from Austria and partner goose with Grüner Veltliner – just make sure you choose a weightier style of this wine to match the succulent meat.
If you prefer a red wine to partner your goose, then its Pinot Noir again.
CASSEROLES AND STEWS
Sturdy, red meat casseroles and stews in richly textured sauces, like Boeuf Bourguignon are good with Riojas. Also look at Chiantis, Minervois, gutsy Rhône Reds, and Zinfandel from the USA, but not white Zinfandel, which confusingly is a pale rose colour. No, we are talking big, spicy, deep, almost black in colour Zins here!
BARBECUES AND SAUSAGES
Choose lively, spicy reds, like Shiraz/Syrah, robust Argentinian Malbecs, American Zinfandels, and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons. Also try juicy ripe Rosés made from any of the previous grape varieties – they are amazing with this type of food.
Beaujolais is a match made in heaven with charcuterie – why not treat yourself to one of the Cru Beaujolais. You have plenty of choice, with 10 to choose from – try a Morgon, Fleurie, Brouilly, or Moulin-à-Vent.
If you prefer to go Italian, then how about a Valpolicella.
Rosés also go very well with this type of cuisine, but nothing with too much residual sugar. You want a nice dry number - try a Spanish Rosé made from Tempranillo, especially if you are having chorizo, and for Spanish jamón, a dry Fino or Manzanilla sherry is perfect!