4 of the best wine and steak pairings, according to a master sommelier

Going to a steakhouse and not ordering a bottle of wine is practically a faux pas.

And for the steakhouse regular, it pays to know which bottles pair best with which steaks. Enter Brahm Callahan, the wine director at Grill 23 & Bar in Boston, Massachusetts and one of only 147 master sommeliers in North America.

In the beverage service industry, master sommelier is a coveted title that demonstrates a prestigious level of expertise, which is why we asked Callahan to be our steak and wine pairing guide.


Steak: Filet mignon
Pairing: Pinot noir from Oregon (for its “earthy truffle notes”)
Callahan’s Notes:
“There is less fat content in this cut of steak, so a milder red or a white with high acid is a good match.”

Steak: Prime porterhouse
Pairing: Cabernet, cabernet Franc, or merlot
Callahan’s Notes: “It’s a tough choice, as you are pairing with two different cuts. Bordeaux blends are excellent.”

Steak: Prime rib-eye

Pairing: Jean Louis Chave’s 2010 St. Joseph, or any dense, meaty syrah
Callahan’s Notes: Callahan says this savoury syrah goes great with the steak’s
pronounced beef flavour and marbling.

Steak: A5 Kagoshima Wagyu
Pairing: Nebbiolo, try Elvio Cogno, Vigna Elena Barolo 2007
Callahan’s Notes: “The tannin of the nebbiolo will be attracted to the high fat content in the Wagyu.”


When in doubt, order a dry riesling. “Dry Riesling actually works really well with all cuts.”

Compliments of bullfrog & baumCallahan is one of only 229 professionals worldwide who have achieved the title of master sommelier since the Court of Master Sommeliers’ began in 1969.

Consider steak temperature and sauce
. “For example, a heavy port demi glaze won’t work with a lighter pinot noir. Also, the more you cook a steak, the more you render out the fat, which will affect the pairing.”

Pair fatty cuts with high tannin wine and less fatty cuts with medium tannin wine. Callahan says you can mitigate this with sauce selection. For example, a less fatty steak with a decadent sauce can handle a big tannin red.

Steer clear of low tannin reds and low acid whites. Some examples: heavy California chardonnays or viogniers, gamays from Burgundy, or really light pinot noirs. “Low tannin reds will feel thin and tart; low acid whites will taste heavy and flat.”

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