Wine and Meat Pairing Tips

If you’ve thought the rules for wine and meat pairings are strict and uncompromising, you are in luck. Experienced wine lovers know pairings are essentially a matter of taste and how a particular type of meat is prepared. Still, some basic considerations must be kept in mind.

Follow these tips to decide which bottles you might be uncorking at your next dinner party or holiday meal.

For the Best Wine and Meat Pairings, Consider the Food and Time

If your meal features multiple courses, think about the time you’ll start. For example, if it’s an early afternoon barbecue, don’t serve heavy reds with your appetizers or salads. Instead, start light, and save the more robust, complex wines for the entrée. Keep in mind that sweet wines, with few exceptions, are usually served with dessert.

You could start with a fruity, dry Prosecco as your guests arrive or while light appetizers are served. Then, perhaps with salad or soup, move on to a light white wine such as 2018 Sweet Oaks Grandma’s Chardonnay. With its hints of golden apples, toasty new French oak, baking spices, and white flowers, it’s the perfect choice to set a feel-good mood.

However, if you’re offering a cheese board and a variety of salads, you might want to review our wine and cheese pairing suggestions. In general, white wine goes well with this part of the meal. And while personal preference matters, just remember to match intensity: strong cheese flavors are best complemented by wines that can hold their own. 

Pair Wines to Flavor, Not Necessarily Food

It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking, “White with white meat, red with red.” However, for the best wine and meat pairings, consider the type of white or red meat and the way it’s prepared — a marinade or sauce can drastically change the flavor. To find a truly strong pairing, tune in to your taste. “Meatier” flavors, for example, do well with the berry notes of a Cabernet or Zinfandel such as the Sweet Oaks 2016 Zinfandel.

Back to our barbecue example. Let’s say you’re grilling steaks along with chili dips and spicy sauce. Again, pay attention to the flavors here to pair well with the wine. You don’t want one to overwhelm the other. A Zinfandel can pair well with tomato-based barbecue sauces, for example, even if you’re serving seafood such as grilled shrimp.

Game meats, a popular holiday party food, are robust in flavor. Naturally, they require equally robust wines. Venison, for example, is a lean meat often described as rich and earthy, and the fruit of a medium-bodied Pinot Noir can often match it. You’ll also do well with our 2017 Sol De Luz Bite Me Syrah. The dark red fruits and black plums on the nose along with the spice and earthiness of tobacco and peppercorn flavors won’t be overpowered. Again, how the game meat is prepared can determine your wine choice.

What You Should Know About Pairing Wine with Steak

Preparation matters, but the cuts of meat can also determine the flavor. Whether you have ribs with juicy meat close to the bone or a tender, subtly flavored fillet, you’ll want to serve the perfect bottle. Which wine should you choose to balance out the flavors? Here’s our take on which wines work best.


We rarely see a wine that approaches any measure of sweet paired with this steak. Dry reds are best because of the nature of the sirloin cut. Fairly lean with light fat marbling and usually sliced with a strip of fat along its edge, it can be seasoned in a variety of ways. Although, you can’t go wrong with a good Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. Again, pay attention to your palate here.

T-Bone and Porterhouse

Tender and lean but no less flavorful, these cuts often have a combo of fillet plus strip. Try to pair them with aromatic reds. A heady Nebbiolo or powerful Barolo is an excellent choice, but we can also recommend a glass of savory 2017 Sol De Luz Love Language Grenache


Rich, tasty and juicy, rib-eye steaks come with plenty of marbling. When cooked right, they are luscious and tender. These pair well with wines like Valpolicella, Zinfandel, or Cabernet with higher tannins. The Sweet Oaks Never a Dull Moment Pinot Noir finishes dry and fresh with a sweet yet crisp structure, and it’s perfect for your rib-eye steaks.

Filet Mignon

This Cadillac of cuts is known for its subtle, tender flavor. It requires simple seasoning — often just salt, pepper, and butter will do. An elegant wine will bring out all its flavors without overpowering the lean meat. Choose a Merlot Zomberlot for its full-bodied flavor. Its sweet cherry fruit and chocolatey cocoa spice will be a wonderful enhancement to the earthy character of the filet.

Need More Ideas for Pairing Meat and Wine?

Our Sweet Oaks blog articles will point you to the perfect wine no matter what you’re serving. If you’re drawn, as we are, to the alluring beauty of Temecula Valley’s rolling hills and lush vineyards, you’ll enjoy all the flavors our wines have to offer.

Visit our online shop today to find the best wine to suit your next special occasion

Leave a Reply