Ribeye steak comes from the cow’s rib region and is the juiciest and fattiest (or flavourful) cut of steak. You get the same meat as you would when you have Prime Rib, except Prime Rib is a rack of beef ribs roasted. With ribeye steak, you want young and full-bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Merlot, Syrah, and Barolo where the harsh tannins in the younger versions of these wines are tamed by the protein and fat in a ribeye steak. On the other side of the spectrum, many find a fruity and acidic Zinfandel excellent with Ribeye steak.
When the rib bone is removed, Ribeye Steak is commonly called cowboy ribeye. When the bone is removed, it’s called a Scotch fillet. All of the wines we mention will pair with both of these variations.
Ribeye Steak and Cabernet Sauvignon Pairing
A young Cabernet Sauvignon and Ribeye Steak are the perfect pairing. When young, and on its own, Cabernet Sauvignon is astringent, and harsh. However, when paired with a juicy ribeye steak, the tannin in this wine is tamed, and the fruit, mocha and leather flavours of Cabernet Sauvignon shine through. The astringent nature of the tannin also scrapes the fattiness of the steak away from the inside of your mouth. This means each bite will taste just as fresh as the next.
With Cabernet Sauvignon, you have a lot of directions you can go in. Personally, a California Napa Cabernet Sauvignon has never let us down, as it just seems to be built for rich, mouthwatering steaks like ribeye.
For the record, a properly aged Cabernet Sauvignon will go quite nicely with Ribeye as well. It’s just that the high fat and protein content of a Ribeye Steak offers an opportunity to enjoy a younger bottle if you don’t have the patience to wait years to decades for it to mature.
Bordeaux and Ribeye Steak Pairing
Bordeaux is a blended French wine that if from the left bank, it is dominated by the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. If produced on the right bank, you’ll find that Merlot is heavier in the blend. Both wines will be fantastic with a ribeye steak, however, we would lean towards a left-bank Bordeaux.
Generally, with Bordeaux, you need to age them for years to decades before they are perfect for drinking. However, when paired with a ribeye steak, the astringent tannins are instantly tamed by the tender fattiness of this steak. The rich black currant, plum, wet gravel, pencil lead and violet flavours all leap out, leading to a savoury explosion of bliss. Essentially, you have time-travel into the future and get a sense of how that Bordeaux will taste when it is ready for drinking on its own.
There are many different budget levels of Bordeaux, and generally, the ones that age longer (for decades) cost the most, while the lower tier Bordeaux are usually ready to drink in the modern-day. Both types of Bordeaux won’t let you down when paired with Ribeye Steak. However, the more expensive the Bordeaux, the more amazing the paring will taste.
Merlot and Ribeye Steak Pairing
While we prefer Cabernet Sauvignon with Ribeye steak, there are certain Merlot styles that are phenomenal with steak as well. High-end Merlot can often be confused with Cabernet Sauvignon and features rowdy black cherry flavours, supple tannin, and a chocolate finish. This chocolate finish complements any charred or grilled flavours on a Ribeye Steak, while the cherry flavours provide plenty of refreshment. Meanwhile, the tannin in a high-end Merlot are tamed by the high fat and protein in the ribeye, helping you taste both the wine and the steak on the finish.
Syrah and Ribeye Steak Pairing
Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. To simplify things, Syrah is basically an old-world style you’d see in France or Italy, while Shiraz is a new world phrase for Australia or America.
An old-world French Syrah smacks your tastebuds with loaded-fruit flavours of cassis and blackberries and then tapers off to a peppery aftertaste that makes it both refreshing and complementary to the juicy and supple meat flavours of a ribeye steak. You’ll also find smokey notes of charcoal, scorched earth and licorice that add a new level of complexity to this fabulous red wine.
Barolo and Ribeye Steak Pairing
I’m a huge fan of the film Rocky, and one of the more memorable scenes is Rocky punching away at a frozen slab of cow in a meat locker. If you’ve ever cracked open a bottle of Barolo before it’s aged, it’s a similar experience to getting punched in the face with its heavier than bricks tannin.
A young Barolo that is not quite ready for prime-time is beast when it comes to astringent tannin. And this beast can be tamed by high fat and protein content of a juicy ribeye steak, while simultaneously scraping the fattiness away from the inside of your mouth with its balanced acidity. When combined, you’ll find the tannin in the Barolo is softened and all the flavours of raspberry, cherry, cocoa, licorice, and truffles shine through, making this a meal fit for a king.
For the record, a properly aged Barolo will go quite nicely with Ribeye as well. It’s just that the high fat and protein content of a Ribeye Steak offers an opportunity to enjoy a younger bottle if you don’t have the patience to wait years to decades for it to mature.
Zinfandel & Ribeye Steak Pairing
Zinfandel does come in a wide range of styles, and when pairing with a Ribeye Steak, we would recommend a full-bodied, fruit-bomb, monster truck in a bottle Zinfandel. These, huge, rustic style wines are generous in alcohol and bursting with peppery ribe fruit. The fruitiness of the wine is a refreshing contrast against the ribeye’s robust meat flavours. Meanwhile, the peppery and rustic flavours add even more enjoyment to this pairing.