The fattier the cut of roast beef, the more tannin a red wine should have to stand up to the meat. Tannin is that mouth-puckering feeling you get from a red wine, and the fat and protein in roast beef mellow this feeling out, allowing the fruitier flavours some time to shine in the spotlight. Wines high in tannin include young Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Barolo or Bordeaux. Bottle aged reds that are high in tannin, mellow out as they aged, making them more suitable for leaner cuts of beef.
The leanest cuts of roast beef require reds that are lower in tannin and higher in acidity. This would include Pinot Noir, Burgundy, mid-bodied Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec or Cabernet Franc.
Wine with Roast Beef
- Bordeaux (fatty cuts when young, lean cuts when mature)
- Cabernet Sauvignon (fatty cuts when young, lean cuts when mature)
- Shiraz (not too fatty, not too lean roast beef)
- Barolo (fatty cuts of roast beef)
- Pinot Noir (lean roast beef)
- Malbec (lean roast beef, banquets, weddings)
Bordeaux & Roast Beef Pairing
Bordeaux is a full-bodied blended French wine that may consist of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. High in tannin, this wine is exceptional with roast beef as it can hold up to the protein and the fat content with its grippy tanin. Bordeaux also has a sharp minerality to it that elevates the flavour of roast beef. The beef tames the tannin in this red wine, allowing for the true flavours of Bordeaux to shine through.
Left bank Bordeaux is more Cabernet Sauvignon driven, and tend to have more tannin out of the gate. Right bank Bordeaux features Merlot as the dominant grape and will often come across as a little more mellow when it comes to tannin.
For fatty cuts of roast beef, choose a younger Bordeaux where the tannin is more prominent. When a Bordeaux is aged, the tannin mellows meaning it won’t be as astringent or effective against fat. This is why a ten-year-old Bordeaux is fantastic with a low-fat roasted cut of beef tenderloin.
Shiraz and Roast Beef Pairing
Shiraz is a full-bodied, plush red wine with firm tannin and a slightly spicy taste. Often it has a wisp of black pepper on the nose as well a whiff of vanilla and chocolate, which makes it fantastic with charred end cuts.
Shiraz or Syrah will go well with a wide range of Roast Beef, from lean tenderloin cuts, all the way up to Prime Rib. The peppery and spicy flavours blend so well with every bite of meat, while the dark fruit flavours of the wine shine through.
For the best pairing with a Roast Beef, choose a mid-range priced Shiraz as they have more to offer. Lower-budget Shiraz is better suited for everyday fare like pizza, roast chicken and grilled burgers.
Old world Syrah tends to be a little more earthy, smoky, acidic, and herbaceous. Thus, a French Syrah would make a wonderful pairing with a herb crusted roast. New world Shiraz from Australia tends to be jammy, peppery and spicy and is excellent with roast beef accompanied by a pepper sauce.
Cabernet Sauvignon with Prime Rib
Cabernet Sauvignon is heavy in tannin, which causes your cheeks to pucker in due to the dry body. When mixed with the dense protein of roast beef, the tannin in the wine is mellowed, and you can taste more flavours of the red wine. On top of that, the oaky notes of Cabernet Sauvignon are highlighted as the astringency of the tannin whisks the fatty content of the beef away from your cheeks.
A rule of thumb, the fattier the roast, the bolder Cabernet Sauvignon you can pick. For leaner roasts, select a mid-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or an aged Cabernet Sauvignon. Bolder Cabernet Sauvignon is higher in alcohol and tannin which loves fat, but when paired with leaner cuts, the pairing becomes more about the wine, rather than the meat.
Barolo / Barbaresco and Roasted Beef
Barolo is often described as being kicked in the face by a Ballerina, as it is light in colour and has a perfumy quality that makes it comparable to a Pinot Noir. On the lips, however, it is a rich and tannic smack to the face. However, like all the other wines we mentioned, once you combine tannin with protein, the tannin in the wines soften, which allow you to enjoy the wine.
Another reason why Barolo goes well with roast beef is that it has a fruity, yet earthy quality to it. The earthy quality complements the tender, earthy flavours found in roast beef while the fruity nature elevates the pairing. The younger the Barolo, the fattier the roast should be.
Barbaresco pairs with Roast Beef for the same reasons. It demands a fatty cut of roast beef, such as Prime Rib, to tame this wine’s tannic bite. (if the wine is young). Earthy and fruity, Barbaresco is also a feminine wine with a perfumed nose of dried cherries, rose petals, and cinnamon. Thus, the common phrase, ‘if Barolo is the king of wines, then Barbaresco is the Queen’.
Pinot Noir and Roast Tenderloin
Unlike the other wines mentioned above, Pinot Noir is not a full-bodied red. It’s light in body, low in tannin, but high in acidity. Thus it would get crushed by a fatty prime rib roast. It will pair amazingly well with a Beef Tenderloin roast of beef, or less fatty cuts of beef like filet mignon.
The acidity in Pinot Noir is perfect for cutting through the texture of a lean cut of beef, while the earthy nature of the red wine complements those subtle savoury beef flavours in a roast.
Malbec & Roast Beef Pairing
If you are having Roast Beef at a banquet, such as a wedding, or perhaps a golf tournament an Argentinian Malbec is an excellent choice as it’s a crowd-pleaser, and it’s budget friendly. Malbec doesn’t have a long finish, so it’s better with leaner cuts of roast beef (not Prime rib). Malbec from Argentina is fruit-forward and velvety in texture which makes it a crowd pleaser, as it won’t come across as harsh. Its rich plum and black cherry flavours, along with its smoky finish make Malbec an excellent match with Roast Beef.
British Pale Ale Beer & Roast Beef Sandwiches
For a few days after a roast, you’ll probably have lots of leftovers for a dozen roast beef sandwiches. Beer makes for a perfect pairing at lunch as a light companion.
We prefer and British Pale Ale Beer as it’s slightly bitter, and not too high in alcohol so that it won’t weigh you down at lunch. A notable producer of a British Pale Ale is Morland’s Old Speckled Hen. This beer has a lovely amber colour, with an aroma of orange and apricot. The hoppy bitterness isn’t as strong as what you’d find in an Indian Pale Ale; instead, you only experience it at the start of your sip, and at the end where it finishes dry. In between, the malty nature of this beer is dominant, which complements the bread of your sandwich quite well. This beer also has enough body to stand up to fiery mustard, or spicy horseradish on the side.
Other British Pale Ale’s to try are Tetley’s English Ale, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale, Fuller’s London Pride, and Greene King Abbot Ale.