Pairing spice with wine: Steak rub

Mark Hughes Drinks, General, Ideas, Main Courses, Rubs 0 Comments

GUEST POST from Simon Wright: Pairing Spice with wine!

This is the third in a series of guest posts by Simon Wright, manager of a wine shop in Cambridge who we met at a food festival. He wanted to come up with pairings for our spice to give people a better understanding of how different spices work well with wines and craft beers. We’ve been looking forward to pairing a wine with our Steak rub one especially as big, bold reds are among our favourites here at Spice HQ. You can find out more about all-things-wine on his blog and we hope you enjoy experimenting with his suggestions as much as we did!

Steak rub

SteakRubFor me, the key thing we need to look for when pairing a wine with steak is structure. Now, I can easily forgive those who would assume that since wine is a liquid, it is distinctly lacking in structure. However, the different ways certain red wines can feel on our palates can be quite startling. Some reds can come across as being really light and delicate, Pinot Noir* being a classic example of this. Such wines wouldn’t stand up too well to steak; they wouldn’t be able to deal with the texture of the meat and might be sidelined by all the awesomely big flavours from the rub. So a ‘big red’ it has to be and my preference would be a Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape variety I absolutely love! 

Structure found in these full-bodied, rich reds can come from a number of different sources, but for the purposes of matching to steak the most important is ‘tannins’.  Tannins reveal themselves as that dry, grippy feeling on our gums and can be quite off-putting if drinking without food. They come from the grape skins, stalks, and time spent in oak barrels. Cabernet Sauvignon has particularly thick skins, and works well with oak barrels, so tends to produce wines with fairly big tannins. These tannins are going to bind with the proteins in the steak and give us a wine match made in heaven. Furthermore, if the Cabernet has been matured in barrels, all those delicious oaky characters are going to work beautifully with the complex cacao and coffee flavours in the Steak rub.

When it comes to choosing a Cabernet we have quite the choice as the grape is planted throughout the world. If you want to be traditional go for something from Bordeaux, France. Wines here tend to be blends but look out for properties located on the left bank of the river, from the ‘Medoc’, as these are Cabernet dominated with lots of oakiness and spice. For those looking for a more ‘modern’ interpretation of the grape, I really like Cabernet from Chile or California. Because of the warmer climate these wines are more fruity; lots of ripe blackcurrant and cassis flavours.

As usual, I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this match, and welcome any questions on finding a good Cabernet, or any ponderings on wine in general.

You can contact me through my blog or via Twitter.

See you next time!


[*A young Pinot Noir can also be served lightly chilled, not quite as cold as you’d serve white but chilled nonetheless, though still pairing it with lighter dishes than steak. Mark]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.