One of the tastiest and most tender cuts of meat, grilled beef tenderloin has earned popularity as a dinner mainstay. Whether you season it simply or serve it with a sauce, this dish deserves a wine that you’ve chosen with care. Many people color-code the wine selection process: Red meat goes with red wine. However, other factors come into play.

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Take wine pairing tips as suggestions not ultimatums. Consider your personal preference first. Opting for a wine you don’t like will only leave you disappointed in the end.

Plan according to the method of preparation. According to “Wine Country International,” pairing a wine with a sauce takes precedence over pairing a wine with the base ingredient. Envision the dish as a whole and think about the flavor, texture and consistency of the added sauce. A buttery chardonnay complements a rich bearnaise; a well-aged chianti, a more acidic barbecue sauce.

Match the texture and weight of the grilled beef tenderloin with a wine that offers an equally full body and flavor. Rich meat can overpower a light or delicate wine. Understand tannin structure to find a bold wine. Strong tannin structure creates a full-bodied wine and helps cut through the viscosity of fat in the beef. Napa Valley winemakers claim cabernet sauvignons with firm tannin structures; barolos and barbarescos from the Piedmont region of Italy enjoy fame for their tannic nature.

Choose a wine that shares common traits with the grilled beef tenderloin. Train your palate to recognize the five different taste sensations: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Varying combinations of these sensations form different flavors. The ability to recognize the intensity of each facilitates the selection process. If you add a hot spice to the grilled beef tenderloin, serve it with a similarly spicy varietal. Argentine malbec and Australian shiraz have strong tannin structures and a spicy flavor. Ray Isle of “Food & Wine” magazine recommends a zinfandel or a grenache to balance the heat.

Tips

  • If pairing more than one wine, present younger vintages first.

  • Older wines often need to open up. Pour into appropriate glasses and allow to sit for 15 minutes before drinking.