The best way to pair your wine with steak


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In episode three of the CorkRules podcast, certified sommelier Grace Hood shares her expertise on how sommeliers create and organize a great wine list and provides a brief overview of how to pair wines. She also reviews the wine list of Quality Meat Steakhouse, a restaurant renowned for serving the finest steaks and cuts of meat in NYC.

If you are looking for a robust cabernet sauvignon to pair well with the Bone-In Dry-Aged Prime Sirloin, consider the reasonably-priced Post & Beam by Far Niente, 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley. It is the heavy presence of tannins in cabernet sauvignon that make it such an excellent match with a rare cut. The effect of tannins is in the texture, not the taste. Just as a strong cup of tea heavy with tannins makes the mouth feel dry, a heavy tannin wine is best to cut through fat.

At Quality Meat Steakhouse, the 15-page wine list provides a wide variety of types, styles, and vintages of wine with a vast array of tasting notes and subtle differences.

With so many choices, how do you make a wise, and informed choice of wine to pair with your food. It can take years to understand which wines pair well with what foods. Luckily, that’s where a certified sommelier can help you. This is their area of expertise and experience, so why not take advantage of it and ask for their advice? For instance, if choosing the Fresh Cracked Lobster the Caposaldo, Pinot Grigio, Veneto, 2020 would be a wise choice. Dry white wines generally work better with shellfish because the shellfish is slightly sweet and mild, a crisp dry white helps accentuate the flavors without adding to the sweetness, much like a twist of lemon adds just a nice amount of acidity to help balance the fats and sugars.

If you don’t have a sommelier by your side, these simple rules on pairing wine with food will help you decide what to choose.

  • When it comes to acidity, the wine should be more acidic than the food.
  • Likewise, the wine should be sweeter than the food.
  • Choose wine and food that are comparable in flavor.
  • Bold, tannin-heavy red wines pair best with heavier, red meats
  • Crisp, dry white wines pair best with light-intensity meats
  • Bitter wines, tannin-rich wines are best balanced with fat.
  • When eating sauce-rich foods, pair the wine to the sauce, not the meat

If you want to hear more about the wine list at Quality Meat Steakhouse, check out the CorkRules wine review podcast where Grace identifies the notable wines from Bordeaux, points out the best-value wines on the list, and shares a little knowledge on the wine and moonshine history in the States.


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Yes, you can pair your potato chips & donut holes with wine. Here’s how

Yes, you can pair your potato chips & donut holes with wine. Here’s how

Champagne—and its sparkling wine derivatives—pair well with everything, full stop. The high acidity of the wine causes you to salivate so that your mouth begs for food, while the action of its bubbles scrubs the palate clean after each bite, subtly inviting the next one.

But why are Champagne and fried foods such a match made in heaven? For one, the textures of each kind of echo each other. “When I think of having fried food I often think of bubbles,” says NYC sommelier Marcela Colonna. “It makes me feel like I’m having the same crunch in liquid form through effervescence and bright acidity.”

In addition to Champagne’s texture, sommelier and sales rep Josh Lit seconds the acidity point: “When you have a lot of freshness and vibrant acidity, it pairs very well with richer, more decadent items like fried foods because the acidity cuts right through the richness.”

Any sparkling wine you like—including those that are slightly sweet or made with a process other than the traditional champagne method—can fill in for Champagne against any fried food you like. (And with a potential looming Champagne shortage, you might need to resort to other choices anyhow.) But in the fizzy, heady spirit of sparkling wine season, here are 7 specific fried food and sparkling wine pairings worth raising a glass to.

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Champagne and fried chicken together is a highbrow/lowbrow pairing that people in the know go crazy for. Let it be a testament to the universal reverence of this pairing among the beverage community, that this earned the most raised hands from people who volunteered to rhapsodize about it. (One person even went so far as to say he “knew I’d be just fine in life,” for having suggested it in the first place. I’ll take it.)

NYC bar professional Nick Vendetti explains the magic of the pairing: “The acidity of the wine cuts through the fat of the chicken, and the subtle sweetness of a brut especially, while usually not so perceptible on its own, helps balance out the acidity and the salt of the food. It’s similar to how sweetness functions in ketchup or BBQ sauce, or in many types of various Southeast Asian cuisine, or even American Chinese cooking.”

One to try: Une Femme The Juliette Premier Cru Champagne

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Prosecco is often considered Champagne’s country cousin: a little less refined in its winemaking process and texture, but no less zesty and lively when it comes to pairing with food.

Furthermore, Italian cuisine understands the value of sparkling wine and fried food combinations better than just about other cultures. Take a glance at any Italian wine bar menu and count the instances of the word “fritti” on the food section. Little fried bites—the aforementioned fritti—with Prosecco are a staple of Italian aperitivo culture, but Prosecco absolutely has the oomph to take on a full meal, dessert, or even…breakfast cannoli?

Consider the absolute twinning of a Prosecco and cannoli pairing by Brooklyn-based chef, Albert Di Meglio, where Prosecco is used to add extra bubbles to the fried cannoli shell. Take the cannoli. Take the Prosecco along with it.

One to try: Cavit Prosecco

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Lambrusco, with its fruity nature, light fizz, and gentle tannin, is the unsung hero of the Italian wine catalogue, in my opinion. Another “in the know” coupling is Lambrusco with pizza, which is more than just an inspired pairing; it’s a laid-back, lifestyle choice. So how about Lambrusco with pizza in fried form, i.e. mozzarella sticks? (Mozzarella stuffed arancini would also do nicely here.)

“Lambrusco with mozzarella sticks is genius,” says Althea Codamon, Beverage Director at Brooklyn’s Aita Italian restaurant.

Sommelier and sales rep Josh Lit concurs: “Lambrusco and mozzarella sticks go really well together, because you’re going to dunk the mozzarella sticks in tomato sauce, and the Lambrusco has a little sweetness and ripeness, plus a lot of texture, which goes great with the rich cheese and the salty crust.”

One to try: Bruno Zanasi, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, D.O.P.

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By now you’ll hopefully have accepted the salt/fat/acid/heat quadrumvirate that sparkling wine and fried food combos bring to the table. Now, I turn up the salt factor with an additional element: brine. Some of the greatest wines sparkling wines on earth grow on fossilized seashell beds, or in coastal areas where the salty sea air influences the grapes, making them a natural pairing for oysters. When the oysters and grapes come from the same area? Game over. That minerality sings, even when you decide to give them the deep-fried treatment, which you should.

Robin Kirk Wolf, sommelier and owner of Highwater, in San Luis Obispo, explains: “Oysters and bubbles are an incredible pairing that can be seen around the world, and it’s showcased perfectly here on the California Coast. The briny salinity of the oysters from our own Morro Bay fit perfectly alongside a Brut Cuvée, from Laetitia Vineyard just four miles inland. The rich texture of the oysters is balanced by the light and airy streams of bubbles, with hints of lemon chiffon and fresh bread.”

Further up the California coast, in a promotion called “Taste of the Bay,” Chandon, Food 52, and Real Oyster Cult have teamed up to deliver this exact pairing right to your door. Through Food 52 you receive a bottle of Chandon Taste of the Bay Blanc de Blanc reserve, along with a code for 50% off oysters from Real Oyster Cult, which are overnighted for freshness. The package also includes accouterments such as locally made hot sauces and shrubs, which, incidentally, also happen to be ideal condiments for fried bivalves.

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During a recent event showcasing Spanish food and wine at Jose Andres’ Mercato Little Spain in New York, sommelier Marcela Colonna took home the pairing challenge prize with this matchup: Cava rosé and churros. Other somms were asked to pair foods such as paella, patatas bravas, and other Spanish superfoods, which just goes to show that the sparkling/fried combo always wins, even when you pit savory against sweet.

“I loved the berry and toasty, brioche notes I got from the Cava rosé, which made the churros that much more enjoyable if that’s even possible,” says Colonna, along with the bubbles, which, from my own experience tasting the pairing, emphasized and enhanced the churros’ sugary crunch.

One to try: Segura Viudas Brut Rosé

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This, right here, is the classiest junk food pairing imaginable.

It’s natural to try to forget that potato chips are fried, often being within arms’ reach. But that just makes this pairing all the more fun, as you might not even need to leave your kitchen in order to achieve it. Any bubbly on hand turns a bag of chips into a celebration, but here’s the argument for Moscato D’Asti or Asti Spumante:

“Salt and sweet work well together. I call it the kettle corn theory” says Minneapolis-based sales rep David Curiel.

Italy’s moscato grape makes a generously fruity wine. If, in your mind, this translates to being cloying, that is a reputation it doesn’t deserve. In the right hands it is vibrant and balanced, especially with bubbles, and most especially if you introduce spice into the equation, as with barbecue or other spicy-flavored potato chips.

“It’s totally magical,” says Curiel, “Asti Spumante tastes like apricots and nectarines. The bubbles and acidity wash the chips off of your palate, and the spice from the chips shines through the fruit and bubbles.”

One to try: La Caudrina Asti Spumante “La Selvatica

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This is one from my own heart, and not just because the wine is literally called “bugey.” Bugey Cerdon is an appellation tucked into the Jura mountains in Eastern France that produces lightly sweet, floral, sparkling rosés.

Bugey Cerdon and chocolate donut holes together are an even bougier version of chocolate-covered strawberries. If you intend to start in 2022 like you mean to go on, then there’s a New Year’s Day Breakfast of Champions for you.

One to try: Dentelle Bugey Cerdon Semi-Sec Rosé

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