The goal of a food and drink pairing is to make both taste better when consumed together. It's a partnership to bring out the best in everyone! So while red wine with steak is probably the most well-known duo, there are still a handful of beverages — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — that will make that juicy steak you just cooked up an even more delicious experience to partake in.
What Makes Something Good with Steak?
Think about the steak's signature qualities: it's beefy, rich, and can sometimes be deliciously fatty. A drink pairing should, most importantly, complement these features. It should also balance them. Red wine has the ability to cut through some of the potentially overwhelming richness of steak, which is why it's such a classic match.
A nice steak dinner always has a way of seeming celebratory, which is why a alcoholic drink can feel fun and festive. Here are a few more ways to do it well.
The rich, caramel notes of this brown spirit are complex enough that they can hold up to the big, beefy flavor of a piece of red meat. The choice of whiskey is up to you; bourbon and rye are classic picks, but Scotch works well too, particularly with grilled steak, as its smoky notes mimic the flavor from the grill. Enjoy your whiskey neat, on the rocks, on in a simple cocktail that won't overpower the meat, like an Old Fashioned.
2. Dark Beer
A full-bodied beer like a stout or porter has the ability to hold up to a rich steak, especially something like a rib-eye. It also has enough bitterness in it to cut through some of that fat, just like a red wine's tannins cut through it. Leaner steaks, like skirt or flank, can be paired with something a little leaner as well, like a nutty brown ale.
3. White Wine
White wine can absolutely pair well with steak, as long as you pick the right white wine. The key is to sip one that's full-bodied enough to stand up to the meat. A light, extra-crisp Sauvignon Blanc is likely not your best bet, but a lightly oaked Chardonnay (which is a bit richer, but still has a little crispness to it to cut through the steak's beefiness) is.
You can definitely enjoy a steak without pairing it with alcohol. In fact, there are a handful of non-alcoholic drinks that work equally as well with steak.
1. Cranberry or Pomegranate Juice
These two juices work because they contain tannins (just like red wine), which act as palate cleansers and cut through the heavy meat. Neither are so sweet that they'll overpower the flavor of the steak. If you find them to be too tart for your tastes, you can dilute them with water or club soda.
2. Club Soda with Lemon or Lime
Carbonation works well with fat because not only does it help cut through it, but it also acts as a palate cleanser to balance out its richness. Fancy up a glass of club soda with a big squeeze of lemon or lime and it's an even better pairing, as the acid from the citrus also cuts through steak's richness, balancing the flavors in your mouth.
What do you like to drink with your steak?