Should we drink red wine with red meat, or is it down to personal preference?

How to Drink Better: `I have a good friend who dislikes red wine and drinks Chardonnay with everything’

Red wine is traditional with meat, but there are alternatives. Photograph: iStock

Q: We have all read that we should drink red wine with red meat. But is it true?

A: There is a certain logic to the argument; red wine tends to have more of those drying tannins that make it unpleasant to drink on its own. But the proteins in red meat counter the tannins, creating a balance that somehow makes the wine taste better and less tannic. In addition, the tannins can bring out the flavours of the food, so both taste better together. That’s one theory at least.

The same thing can happen with some cheeses, usually firm strong cheeses such as Parmesan, pecorino, cheddar or Manchego. One day I’ll write a piece about matching wine and cheese, but many fresh cheeses and smelly numbers such as Durrus, Brie, Camembert, goat’s cheese and most creamy cheeses taste better with white wine, and blue cheese needs a dessert wine.

But as is often the case with food and wine, it depends on how you are cooking your red meat, and the seasonings, sauces and accompaniments. Full-flavoured dishes tend to go better with full-flavoured wines. You can drink light fruity red wines without food, and with charcuterie. And as suggested last week you can also enjoy light reds with tuna and salmon. I do believe that medium to full-bodied tannic red wines show at their best with plainly cooked red meat or, if you are a vegetarian, with mushrooms, red peppers and rich casseroles with beans.


As for drinking white wine with red meat, purists might disapprove but there is no reason why you couldn’t enjoy a textured full-bodied oaky Chardonnay or Viognier with your steak. I have a good friend who dislikes red wine and drinks Chardonnay with everything. With Christmas coming it is worth remembering that roast goose goes very well with Alsace Riesling or Pinot Gris.

Lastly, if you are a fan of orange/amber wines remember that they go very really well with lamb dishes.