Fiona Beckett is an award-winning journalist and blogger and writes for the Guardian about wine and other drinks.
For other suggestions, check it out her own website matchingfoodandwine.com.
We don’t think twice about sharing a weekend roast so why when it comes to steak do we feel we have to have our own? You could argue I suppose that a couple might, like Jack Sprat and his wife, prefer different cuts or degrees of ‘doneness’ but even they managed to ‘lick the platter clean’!
A shared steak enables you to enjoy a bone-in cut like a T bone with all the additional flavour it gives you. Even fillet can be shared (and stretched more economically). And given that you can cook it ahead and serve it at room temperature it makes for a simple Valentine’s night supper leaving you plenty of time for …. no, I won’t go into that.
So what to drink? The assumption is that steak needs a full-bodied red – something like a cabernet sauvignon or a malbec from that land of steak, Argentina but that’s not invariably the case.
Delicate fillet, for example, pairs perfectly with fragrant pinot noir (New Zealand, better known for its sauvignon blanc, is a more affordable and consistent source than burgundy.) Or try another light, juicy red, the charmingly named Saint-Amour, one of the ‘crus’ or villages that have their own appellation in the Beaujolais region. A creamy mushroom sauce will make this style of wine taste even more delicious.
Fattier cuts like ribeye work well with reds that have a bit of acidity to them like Chianti Classico or other Tuscan reds.
If you like your steak medium to well done you’ll find it goes best with more mature reds like aged red bordeaux, barolo or rioja gran reserva that might be overwhelmed by heavily charred rare meat.
Serve a rich béarnaise on the side and you may be surprised to find you can drink an oaky chardonnay – a good option for those who don’t really like red wine.
Then yes, by all means enjoy your big hearty red whether it’s cabernet, malbec, merlot or shiraz. They’re best with a rare steak and/or a rich red wine sauce. Just bear in mind – the rarer the steak the bigger the tannins (the slightly bitter sensation you get when you drink an oak-aged wine) and level of alcohol it can handle. To put it in a nutshell big reds need rare beef!
*Oh, and a final tip. If you want a young red to taste smoother and more velvety ‘double decant’ it. In other words pour it from the bottle into a jug then back again into the bottle (a funnel helps you do this without spilling the wine). It lets air get into the wine more effectively than just decanting it – though you can of course leave it in a decanter if you prefer.