Today’s article is pretty straightforward – if you love meat, then here are 7 wines you should have in your cellar. These wines all offer mid to long term cellaring potential and once mature, are the perfect wines to pair up with your carnivorous cravings. Our rule of thumb? The fattier the meat you’re eating, the more we like big full-bodied, full-throttle reds with higher levels of tannin showcasing increased richness, decadence and opulence, and the leaner the cut of meat the more we prefer mid-weight wines with higher levels of acidity.
Like any other food and wine pairing exercise, the seasoning and sauces your meat is treated with has a major impact on your wine pairing options; more aggressively seasoned meat requires more flavourful wine, and more delicately seasoned cuts line-up perfectly with wines that are similarly less intense. Spicy seasonings and sauces call for lower alcohol wines, and sometimes even a bit of residual sweetness to help cancel out some of the heat while refreshing your palate.
So let’s get down to business – here’s our list of 7 carnivorous favourites – and the wines that go with them:
#1. Braised Beef Shortribs
Wine Pairing: Grenache-based Languedoc Reds If beautiful, tender slow-cooked beef shortribs are your thing, then the Grenache based reds produced in the south of France should be your go-to “comfort wine”. The velvety smooth and juicy reds produced in the Languedoc (I can’t think of a more drinkable pick than this one!) mirror the richness and decadence of this classic braised meat dish. Better examples of these reds (purchase prices between $20 and $40) really do benefit from 3-5 years in the cellar by which time their tannins will have softened up a bit and the wine will offer delicious complex aged flavours.
#2. Grilled Bone-in Pork Chops
Wine Pairing: White Burgundy There are few things that get my mouth watering quite like the smell of a big ol’ pork chop on the BBQ. Add a spoonful of unsweetened apple sauce and this bad boy is ready to be served up with a nicely aged Chardonnay from Burgundy (and here’s an ideal applicant for this gig). These whites develop delicious complex aromatic flavours as they age, including cinnamon, clove and butterscotch. Combine these aromatic fireworks with classic cool climate Chardonnay freshness, and you’ll see why it’s worth laying down a few bottles of good white Burgundy for 5-10 years before pulling the cork.
#3. New York Striploin
Wine Pairing: Modern Expressions of Red Rioja Full-disclosure: there is no carnivorous indulgence that satisfies my meat-tooth more than a perfectly cooked New York Striploin. So for me, finding a wine that will make this meal any better is a tall order – but not an insurmountable one. The Rioja region of Spain produces some of the most age-worthy red wines on the planet, however the longest living examples are the more “classic” or “traditional” style wines. More modern expressions (more French oak, less American oak; shorter aging periods before release to market; richer, riper and more extracted) still offer the potential to evolve for about a decade in the cellar (as is illustrated by this rock-star value!). Combine the characteristic freshness and vibrant acidity of Tempranillo with the velvety rich red and black fruit showcased in this more modern style, and the result is a wine perfectly suited to this great cut of steak.
#4. Lamb Chops
Wine Pairing: Northern Rhone Reds OK, so I suppose this recommendation didn’t require a whole lot of creativity, but sometimes classics pairings are called classics for a reason – they’re just that good together. The Syrah based reds of the northern Rhone are serious cellaring candidates, with better examples (like Cornas, Cote Rotie and Hermitage) that age gracefully for a couple of decades, or more. As they approach maturity, these reds introduce flavours and aromas mirroring the gamey qualities found in lamb, while retaining enough tannin and structure to cleanse the palate. Indeed, there are few red meats that won’t pair well next to a well-aged northern Rhone red (and few producers better than these guys to get you fixed up)- this is a true must-have in the cellar for all serious carnivores.
#5. Spicy Italian Sausages
Wine Pairing: Off-Dry Mosel Riesling (Kabinett) I know what you’re thinking… What kind of hardcore carnivore sits down with a glass of fruity off-dry white wine, right? Prepare to be impressed by this match. For starters, age-worthy Mosel Rieslings are some of the best cellaring value produced anywhere on the planet; in terms of pennies per year of cellaring potential, I’m hard pressed to think of place where you’ll get better bang for your buck. Lay down a few bottles of Mosel Riesling (and start by picking up anything made by this guy!) for 5 years, and you’ll see that some of that sweetness actually dissipates with time in the cellar – and the end result is a delicious, clean and refreshing white that will cleanse your palate and spur on your appetite when served next to spicy sausages.
#6. Grilled Bison Steaks
Wine Pairing: Central Otago Pinot Noir Central Otago Pinot Noirs have a completely unique character and profile that shares little resemblance to the reds produced from the same grape in northern climates like Burgundy. These wines walk a fine line, balancing freshness and acidity with extract and opulence. Better examples of Central Otago Pinot Noirs can get a bit pricy, but you can find delicious examples under $40 that will reward up to 5 years in the cellar. Once mature, these reds offer up beautiful sundried fruit flavours – a perfect match for this more subtly flavoured meat.
Wine Pairing: Mid-weight Piedmont Reds (like Barbera) Burgers are the kind of food you grab with two hands of dive head-first into – so matching them up with a similarly gulp-able red wine makes for a magical combination. The mid-weight reds of Piedmont don’t offer the same decades-long cellaring potential as their Piedmontese cousins like Barolo, but they certainly reward near to mid-term aging (particularly when made by pedigree’d producers like this one). And with the smoky truffle flavours that emerge as they age, aged Piedmont Barbera can act as sort of condiment in a glass next to a killer burger. The right candidates for the cellar are generally found in the $20 to $30 bracket and will sing next to your favourite burger after 5-10 years in the cellar