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.
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.
References and ResourcesBucks Local News: Through the Grapevine: Barbecue and Beer? Wine's Better.
"Wine Enthusiast Magazine": What to Drink With: Barbecue Food
Wine Country Network: Food and Wine Pairing Tips
Napa Valley Vintners: Appellations
"Food & Wine": An Expert's Pairing Advice