Top Tips for Serving Wine with Red Meat

As a general rule, most of us accept that red meat works best with red wine. As red wines are usually heavier in body and have a bolder taste, it is usually our first choice to match the richer taste of red meat. But with so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat? This week, Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our favourite suggestions for serving wine with red meat.

Ideal Wine Company red meat and wine
With so many varieties of both red meat and wine, what should you be serving with each type of red meat?

Lean meat – go light

Due to the higher tannic value, alcohol content and antioxidant density, bold red wines are perfect for red meat. The fat content of the protein-dense food takes us a while to digest and is, therefore, best met with a heavy red wine. A rich cut of red meat, such as a prime rib, pairs nicely with a bold and high tannin red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Should you be using a relatively lean cut of red meat, try using a wine with lower tannins and a lower alcohol percentage. A rule worth remembering is the leaner the meat, the lighter the wine.

Lamb requires delicacy

Unlike most other red meats, lamb is delicate in both flavour and texture. As a result of this, you’ll want to adjust your wine match slightly to accommodate for this. Selecting a bolder red wine with a smoother tannin should work well. A Syrah or a Malbec are perfect options for lamb.

A top tip to remember is that lamb often takes on the flavour of any sauce that is paired with it. This means you should pay close attention to whatever sauce is being served with the meat before choosing your wine.

Match the intensity

When it comes to pairing beef with wine, there are several variables that must come into consideration. With so many ways to serve the meat, this can alter your wine selection drastically. For leaner cuts of beef, look for a light or medium-bodied red wine. These should have a slightly higher acidity that is useful for cutting through the texture of the lean meat.

For fatty cuts of beef, look for a bold red wine with high tannin. As tannins are astringents that work as a palate cleanser, these tannins help to lighten your palate between bites. Our top choices for serving with fatty meats are wines like a Barolo or a Napa Cabernet.

Should you be serving your beef in a stew, you’ll want to match the intensity of the dish with a wine. For example, a top sirloin beef stew works perfectly with a slightly bolder, medium red. A Sangiovese is an excellent choice.

It’s all about the sauce

If you’re serving your red meat with a sauce, this becomes an important aspect to consider. These can drastically alter the taste of the meat and can even open up a wider range of wine for you to choose from.

  • Tangy sauces: Let’s take BBQ sauces for example, look for a fruity red wine. Lambrusco, Shiraz, Syrah, Zinfandel, Primitivo and Negroamaro are all good starting points.
  • Green sauces: Whether this is a mint sauce or a chimichurri, look for fruity bold red wines with smoother tannins. Try opting for a Malbec or a Monastrell.
  • Tomato sauces: The classic Italian Marinara sauce is often paired well with red meat. If you’re serving a tomato sauce, a medium-bodied red with good acidity is perfect, such as a Sangiovese, Merlot or a Bardolino.
  • White sauces: Creamy white sauces offer a variety of pairing options. From peppercorn sauce to a Béchamel, you’ll want to base your choice on the strength of the sauce. A peppercorn sauce works well with Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, due to their peppery notes. A Béchamel requires a medium-bodied red, such as a Valpolicella Ripasso. The power of the white sauce is key here, so it’s worth considering how powerful your sauce will be in the dish.

No matter how you’re serving your red meat, red wine will always make the perfect accompaniment. Match your intensity and concentrate on how lean your dish is and you’ll enjoy the perfect pairing!

Delicious Pairings of Wine and Chocolate

At Christmas, there’s always  a bountiful supply of amazing chocolate available. From chocolate boxes to desserts, it’s everywhere you turn! At the Ideal Wine Company, we’ve been working on the perfect wine and chocolate pairings to add to the indulgence this festive period. Here are our top tips for pairing the two.

Tips to pair your chocolate and wine successfully

  • Keep things simple: start with a wine that is slightly sweeter than the chocolate. As both wine and chocolate carry their own strong intensity, using a sweeter wine will allow the chocolate to dominate and the wine to complement.
  • Opt for a similar style and weight: when it comes to pairing wine and chocolate, look for similarities. A good rule to remember is the stronger the chocolate, the stronger the wine. As well, dark chocolate tends to pair well with dry tannin texture.
  • Taste from light to dark: similar to a formal wine tasting, it is best to move from light chocolate to dark chocolate if you are eating different varieties. Start with white or milk chocolate, paired with a light-bodied wine and move onto dark chocolate and full-bodied wines. Through starting with the understated flavours if white chocolate and ending on dark chocolate, your palate will not be overwhelmed. You will still be able to notice the subtle sweetness and notes of delicate chocolate and wine.

Ideal Wine Company autumn wineWhite chocolate – mellow and sweet

When pairing your white chocolate with wine, be aware of the high percentage of cocoa fat. This creates a smooth and buttery flavour and a creamy texture. Due to this mellowness, white chocolate works well with sweeter wines. Try a sherry or a Muscat, which will pick up the creaminess and highlight any subtle fruit notes within the chocolate.

An alternative route to take is opting for contrast. This bolder option takes the higher alcohol and full-bodied flavour of a wine such as a Zinfandel to oppose the mellow sweetness of the chocolate. Using the tannin content to soften the chocolate’s fat allows an unexpected balance.

Milk chocolate – light and silky

A popular choice, milk chocolate’s cream content provides a little element of fat. This addition helps it to pair well with wine. When working with these cocoa butter components and the smooth character of the chocolate, try pairing it with a medium-bodied red. The ripeness, silky tannins and lighter body of a Pinot Noir makes an excellent choice, while a medium-bodied Merlot will also work well. Their bright acidity and fruit flavours will accent the chocolate and hold up well against milk chocolate’s smooth and sweet profile.

Dark chocolate – bold and dense

Dark chocolates contain a high cacao content, which means that a wine must be able to handle this intensity. Ideally, you should be looking for a wine that offers a fuller body, intense flavours and robust aromas. Look for wines that contain bold fruit notes. A Zinfandel handles dark chocolate particularly well, due to its combination of spices and dense fruit flavours. Full-bodied wines are the way forward for dark chocolate.

The goal of this pairing is to balance the tastes, sweet or bitter. Whether you choose to try a wide variety of chocolate or indulge in your favourite, looking at what elements make up your chocolate make it easier to pair and enjoy.

How to Perfect your Mulled Wine

You know Christmas is close when you’re enjoying a warming glass of hot, fragrant mulled wine. The traditional festive beverage, usually made with red wine together with various mulling spices and raisins, can be served hot or warm. With its heady aromas of sweetness and spice, this fruity drink is synonymous with Christmas. While it is a treat that many can’t wait to enjoy, it can be difficult to perfect the right balance of flavours being a struggle for many. At Ideal Wine Company, we’ve gathered our top tips to help you make sure your mulled wine is a winner this winter.

Ideal Wine Company Mulled Wine
Here are our top tips for perfecting your mulled wine.

How do I make mulled wine?

Start with a classic recipe – there are hundreds available free online – and they’re easy to follow. While you’re looking make a note of the spices used in them. The more traditional mulling spices are cinnamon, star anise, cloves and nutmeg. But others also include allspice, bay leaves, cardamom, vanilla or ginger.

What wine should I use?

One of the most common questions for how to make mulled wine is what type of wine you should use. While there are many varieties that can work, we know that it is best to look for certain characteristics. The ideal reds to use are young, bright, fruity and unoaked. These will create a good base to build on, while still bringing a rich taste. We recommend using very fruit driven wines, as these tend to make the best mulled wines. Try using an Italian red, a Southern French or New World Merlot. A Shiraz would also be a wonderful choice.

It is also worth noting that quality is important. Always use a wine that you would enjoy drinking. However, it may be best to avoid anything too expensive, as the spices will overpower the subtlety of the wine and that would be a waste.

What flavourings should I use?

After you’ve chosen your wine, add sugar or honey to sweeten it, but be careful not to use too much as overly sweet wine can become overwhelming quickly. Then you add your spices to give it festive flavour. These should include cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise and ginger. Make sure you’re careful when you put in the spices – a little at a time so that it isn’t too strong – you can’t take it back out again. Try gathering the spices in a muslin cloth to avoid small floating spices in your drink.

In addition to these classic flavours, try adding a spirit to compliment the flavours. You could add sloe gin, Cointreau or Grand Marnier for added kick.

How do I mull wine?

When you’ve added your spices, it’s now time to mull your wine. The time spent on the heat is very important. You need to infuse the wine long enough for the spices to take on the flavour, but must be careful not to boil it. This will bring out the natural bitterness of the wine that will overwhelm the entire drink. By lightly simmering it, you will emphasise the wine’s fruitiness, perfectly rounding out the flavours. We recommend serving your mulled wine comfortably warm.

Mulled wine is the perfect comforting choice for a cold December. Nothing says winter like a steaming mug or glass of festive mulled wine.

Fireside Red Wines to Try this Winter

The festive season is nearly upon us, the perfect excuse to enjoy a glass or two by the fireside. Here at Ideal Wine Company, we have our perfect picks for you to enjoy with family and friends.

With fireside wines, we’re always drawn to big earthy powerful reds. The cold weather is naturally paired with a robust red, with the body and structure to compete with hearty food. Fruitiness, weight and richness help to provide much-needed warmth.

Ideal Wine Company festive red wine
Here are some of the best fireside red wines to try this winter.

Amarone – bright and juicy

An iconic Italian wine, this typically dry red is made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina. The blend is fermented then refermented, giving the wine rich and complex flavours. Concentrated redcurrant and cherry flavours can be detected. The brightness of these fruits pairs well with the subtle notes of clove, cocoa and spiced vanilla. This provides a structured taste, with juicy tannins providing a satisfying finish.

Ribera del Duero – smooth and luscious

This full-bodied red offers a real flavour of the Spanish countryside. The oak ageing adds notes of vanilla to the wine’s natural blackberry and herbal flavours. Its smooth and luscious structure provides a long finish. This wine is perfect for firesides or with a hearty casserole, ideal for the colder weather.

Syrah – complex and fruity

Providing plenty of character, intensity and complexity, this variety produces an inky depth of flavour. By nature, it is a big red. Its strong fruit flavours bring the rich and sturdy structure a delicious warmth. Try pairing this wine with a meat dish or even a mince pie, as the juicy fruit provides the perfect counterpoint to heavily spiced dishes. The acidity, tannins and richness create a mid-palate complexity that will be well-received by all your guests.

Bordeaux – fragrant and ripe

A great and classic choice for the festive season. This wine is a fine accompaniment to festive meat, with its fragrant and ripe taste. With a great balance and a velvet finish, it offers notes of chocolate, black cherry, spice and vanilla. An ideal combination for winter’s spiced treats.

Carignan – warm and intense

Originating from southern France, this wine is famous for its robust and intense flavour. This blend is perfectly balanced with concentrated aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, plums and brambles from the Grenache. A warm clove spice creates a rustic and smoky nuance. The full-bodied fruitiness, aroma and tannic structure create a warming wine choice. This wine is a perfect match for a charcuterie or cheese platter, making it the perfect choice to try for a festive party.

Carmenère – a subtle spiciness

This medium-bodied French wine is often noted for its smoky, spicy and earthy aromas. Its berry and mocha notes provide a richness that is rounded off with a subtle blend of spices. Working well with hearty dishes such as casseroles and chilli, this wine is the perfect winter warmer.

The Perfect Wines for This Winter Season

As the nights get colder and darker, and with more time spent inside and socializing with friends and family, it’s time to reach for a more comforting choice of wine. We tend to shift away from the rosé and stainless-fermented wines, leaning towards heavier, oak-aged varieties. The plummeting temperatures are a natural accompaniment to fuller-bodied reds and fortified wines, perfect for fireside nights and comforting, slow-cooked meals. From generous reds, for pies and stews, to warming fortified wines, Ideal Wine Company have a few tips on what to drink this winter.

Ideal Wine Company winter wine
The perfect wines to try this winter season.

Rich red wines

Unquestionably, red wines are an instinctive choice for this time of year. Big, rich red wines, usually with a higher alcohol content, are the most popular option. The major elements you’ll find in these wines are fruit, tannins and alcohol, with this interplay being key to the success of the wine. Not all big reds are the same, differing on their reliance on subtler fruit, warming spice or even strength. From this, we’ve created a list of popular wines to try:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: with this classic choice, you’ll -get classic flavours of dark berry. These blackberry and blackcurrant notes will be complimented by chocolate and toffee. This luxuriousness is balanced out by medium tannins and a hint of spice, which make it a delicious heartening option.
  • Malbec: unsurprisingly, Malbec makes most lists of big red wines. With a smoky and rich taste, complimented by dark blackberry and blackcurrant, this dark red gives earthy and plush aromas. The structured tannins and warm oak lend itself to a bloom of spice on the finish, making it no surprise this wine is a firm favourite for winter months.
  • Rioja: another structured and fruity wine, Rioja provide a lot of character. The ripe plum and berry taste is balanced by its moderate tannins, spice and cocoa. A perfect wintery choice.

Balancing fortified wines

Making the perfect addition to winter food, fortified wines get their extra alcoholic kick through the addition of another spirit. They are great choices for balancing out the season’s sweet food, with rich flavours such as toffee, coffee, nuts and spices. Our recommendations include:

  • Amontillado Sherry: part of the anti-sweet wave, this sherry promises a subtle, bitter finish that will cleanse your palate of any overly sweet festive food. With tastes of toasted walnut, burnt sugar and bitter orange peel, this sherry is perfect as an ending to a meal or to accompany a sweet treat.
  • Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel: this sweet red wine is made of 90% Grenache and is the perfect pairing for chocolate. Through its notes of sweet raspberry, exotic spices, cocoa powder and Darjeeling tea, this perfectly matches so many winter comfort foods. From chocolate treats, such as truffles and yule logs, to blue cheese, this warming choice is always sure to be a hit.