Pairings: Cabernet and Red Meat

Pairings: Cabernet and Red Meat

By: Vintage Wine GuyComments: 0

This one is pretty obvious - Cabernet Sauvignon and Steak. But Cab can also be paired with bitter greens like mustard greens or egg plant. If it has strong tannins, try adding black pepper to the dish and you will find those tannins are a more subdued. Avoid spicy-hot foods, strong cheeses, or anything delicate. 

Cabernet Sauvignon's flavors of blackberry, black raspberry, black olive, green pepper, mint, cigar box, cocoa, etc. etc. give you lots of flavors to play off of. The big factor with Cab is a healthy amount of tannins, a normally higher alcohol content, and a lot of oak. Both the tannin and the alcohol lead you towards hearty dishes.

That is part of the reason why Cab and steak are such a great pairing, especially with an au poive (black pepper) sauce. Grilled meats have some acridness from the char, combined with some fat, that really offset the tannins in Cab and bring out that big fruit.

For the less meat-inclined, look for hearty foods that have some bitterness or are grilled. Grilled mushrooms (butter the heck out of them), or grilled eggplant work well. I normally stay away from fish, but tuna, swordfish, and shark can play well if grilled. 

One thing about Cab I have found is it often results in the WORST pairings. Strong cheeses like blue are not a fit - stick with lighter cheeses like brie or young camembert. Anything too assertive will fight the wine. Pasta is also not a great match - starch does not cut tannin. Also, anything spicy-hot should be avoided with Cab as it will bring out the heat of the alcohol and the bite of the tannins in a way that makes it a waste to drink good cab.

Personally, my favorite pairing is steak au poive, and again I am going to go to Alton Brown's recipe for it. Grilled meat (and frankly any red meat whether it is beef, lamb, venison, ostrich, whatever, go nuts) is a great starting point, and the addition of butter, cognac, and pepper sauce is perfect. You can moderate the ratio of meat to sauce to wine to cover cabs from Bordeaux to Australia.

Take Out Options

For those that are more delivery inclined, here are some of my recommendations.

Counter Culture - Part of the reason CC is at the top of all of my paring articles is their variety of grilling stations. They have a massive wood grill, charcoal bincho, and cast iron plancha. They are Maillard reaction masters at CC. Go straight to their New York Strip Au Poivre. Other great options are Bincho Grilled Organic Tofu, or Wood Roasted Green Circle Brick Chicken

J. Alexanders/Redlands Grill - Another great wood grill and a great no-corkage restaurant. Try the Steak Burger or Veggie Burger, the Steak n' Fries, or the Prime Rib. Avoid the Steak Maui as it's sweetish teriyaki style glaze is not a friend of wine.

Haven - Bern's 10 oz Dry Aged Delmonico or Filet,

Oak and Ola - Albondigas (meat balls!), Oven Roasted Olives, NY Strip

Outback - I know, I know, it's a big chain now, but don't forget that it was founded in Tampa, and Bloomin's HQ is still here in town. I still feel like I am supporting locals. Plus, their Ribeye and Melbourne Porterhouse are pretty good, and they deliver.


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