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Grilled ribeye beef steak with red wine, herbs and spices on stone tableEvgeny Karandaev/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Steak is viewed as one of the essential red wine pairings. The robust tannins and full-bodied character of many red wines complement the texture and flavour of the meat and help to cleanse your palate between bites. But there are so many different cuts and ways to prepare your steak — for instance, how it is seasoned or sauced — there’s room to explore.

Everyone’s taste is different and often people around the table might prefer a different degree of cooking, which means there isn’t a best red or even a single best style of red wine for steak, but there are some guidelines you can follow to find an enjoyable pairing. In broad terms, steak served rare with added spice and accompanying sauce kept to a minimum work with more classic and complex styles of wine, such as aged examples from Bordeaux or Rioja, which typically have nice intensity of flavour and balance.

Longer cooking times, which contribute more caramelized flavours, or more seasoning on the meat will work with riper and fruity reds, including cabernet sauvignon, merlot or malbec from Argentina, Australia or California. Another benefit to those styles of wine is that they are usually aged in oak barrels that contribute smoky notes into the wine that are like seared flavours that come from cooking on a grill.

Another consideration: look to wine regions where high-quality steak is a staple of the local cuisine. Argentina, Tuscany and the United States all have boldly flavoured red wines that can stand up to the fat and flavour of seared red meat. These are good aisles of the liquor store or sections of the wine list to start your search.

Leaner meats, cooked rare (filet, tenderloin)

Pair with Pinot noir, montepulciano d’Abruzzo, or Chianti Reserve reds. Chardonnay and other white wines that have bright acidity to help cleanse your palate between bites would work as well. Longer cooking times, calls to mind fruity styles of merlot and cabernet from California or Washington state.

Richer cuts, with high fat content (ribeye, strip, porterhouse)

Generous and full-bodied red wines, such as syrah, shiraz, grenache blends (Chateaneuf-du-Pape) are good options here in addition to the usual suspects: cabernet sauvignon, malbec and zinfandel. You could also look to a well-made cabernet franc from top Canadian producers like Bartier Bros., Burrowing Owl, Mission Hill, Painted Rock and Tinhorn Creek from British Columbia or Fielding, Megalomaniac, Tawse, Thirty Bench and Two Sisters from Ontario.

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