principles to Pairing beef with alcohol


Whether your beef meal is mild or robust, sweet or spicy, light or hearty, there is a perfect beer or wine to complement the dish. Like a perfect seesaw, a bite of beef should make you want to take a sip of your drink and the drink should make you want to take another bite. While it all comes down to personal preference, we have compiled some general guidelines to finding the perfect pairing.

Principles to Pairing

Simple Senses- Your smell is the strongest sense, so use this to your advantage. Take a few short sniffs of the beer or wine to get a good hint of the flavor profile. Don’t forget your other senses though. Mouthfeel is important to determine the “weight” or “body” of the drink and the dish should be similar.

Power Matching- You can’t go wrong matching a flavor of the drink with flavor of the dish. Robust flavors should be paired with a robust wine or flavorful beer. A general rule-of-thumb is the beefier flavor the dish or cut has, the more robust or flavorful beverage you’ll want. You also can’t go wrong if you match the dish’s region with a drink from the area.

Balance the Scales- If you have a spicy dish, a high alcohol content drink will keep your mouth on fire while balancing it with something smoother and lower alcohol content will balance the heat. A dish like creamy pasta would be best with a lighter drink as it will help cut through the flavors.

Scrub with Bubbles- The more carbonation in the beer, the better at cleansing your palate of flavors - especially fatty foods. With wine, the drier the drink, the better it matches with fattier cuts.

Use it in the Dish- Whatever you use to cook, whether it’s beer or wine, should be something that you would want to pair and drink with the meal. 

Go Out of the Box- When it comes down to it, it’s all about your personal preference. Be brave and try your own pairings! If you’re hosting a party, know your audience and their preferences (or ask their preferences). Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and try different dishes and drinks!

Pairing Beef with Beer

The versatility of beer cannot be ignored when it comes to pairing with beef. The perfect pairing of beef and beer can bring out the best of any meal.

Along with the basics of pairing a drink to an overall dish, beer can be also be complemented by the specific beef cut. When it comes to steak and beer, robust cuts like the Ribeye or Hanger Steak go great with dark beers like a stout or porter. While less robust cuts such as the Flank or Top Round Steak go well with Pilsners and Lagers. 

Pairing Beef with Wine 

A general rule of thumb is to pair lean beef with lighter to medium-bodied wines and richer cuts with bolder wines.  Wine and beef both offer complex, savory and rich flavors. That’s why the two are a perfect fit.

There are many factors that can impact pairing beef and wine. These include the seasoning, the beef cut used and cooking method. Remember to match flavor of food with the wine. Dishes that are bold, deserve a bold wine like a Merlot or Zinfandel. Dishes that have some spice pair well with a Shiraz and herbal dishes marry well with many Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux.

It’s a common belief that only red wine pairs well with beef. However, there are some instances when a white wine, or Rosé are a must-try experience. Thai beef salads or stir-frys are great with Rieslings and steak salads or meals with plenty of greens and vegetables pair well with many Sauvignon Blancs. 

Pairing Prime Rib with Wine

With a Prime Rib, the meat is tender, savory and rich with a good amount of marbling. This translates to big flavors. This is when the young, bold wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon come in. The marbling in Prime Rib interacts with the harsh tannins of the young Cabernet bringing out the great fruit taste. Some other excellent wines to pair with a Prime Rib include a Syrah, Rhône Valley, Rioja or Barolo.

For more tips on finding the perfect match for beef and wine, check out a guide to beef and wine pairing by Vindulge.

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