Expert Explains Why White Wine Is Actually A Perfect Pairing For Steak

While pairing white wine with steak might raise eyebrows, there are a few absolute rules in pairing food and wine. The best choice is a wine you enjoy that complements your meal's flavors, textures, and overall vibe. Evelyn Goreshnik, Wine Director of Last Word Hospitality restaurant group, offered tips for white wine lovers who enjoy steak. 

First, consider the qualities of the meat. When choosing a white wine to pair with steak, consider looking for more rich flavors. The tannins in red wine give it structure and richness, but since white wines are low in tannins, it's important to look for other qualities that add depth. For example, consider a wine aged in oak or one with noticeable acidity. "I would say for red meat you want a white with texture, balance of acidity, the use of oak, can all make for a well-rounded and structured white that would work great with meat," Goreshnik suggested.

Examples of white wines that often pair well with steak include a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray for a "waxy, aromatic" choice, aged white Burgundies for more structure, or Rhone whites for hints of floral and savory elements. She explained, "They all have good body structure, slight use of oak, and are more rounded in body to pair with meat." Goreshnik suggests exploring a few options to see what you prefer. Another maverick choice is to pair your steak with champagne. "Blanc de blancs champagne is technically all chardonnay anyway," Goreshnik explained.

Why is red wine typically recommended with steak?

If you ask steakhouse sommeliers to help pair a wine with your steak dinner, they will most likely recommend a full-bodied red wine. "For as long as I can remember, it's been traditional to drink red wine with steak," Wine Director Evelyn Goreshnik commented. "This dates back hundreds and hundreds of years."

For example, a fatty cut of steak is traditionally paired with a type of red wine containing ample tannins and with a slightly astringent taste, as this mellows the meat's rich flavor. The wine complements red meat's heavier taste and texture while the tannins balance the fat. With leaner cuts of steak, Goreshnik recommended trying a lighter red and explained, "You want to still taste your food too, and not just the wine." Therefore, you can pair red or white wine with steak depending on your preferences. It's not an "either-or" binary choice. 

You may also want to factor in the environment or vibe of the day. For example, Goreshnik commented that she enjoys a glass of chilled white wine when enjoying an outdoor dinner on a warm day and offered one more piece of advice: "Bring the focus to the actual meal and wine, and the company, of course." If you want other ways to enhance your meal, consider trying one of these unconventional sauces to put on your steak, but always remember to consider the flavors of the meat and your sauce when pairing it with wine.