Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Classic Pairings 101 – Cabernet & Steaky Akes | January 6, 2010

Sorry, no “eggy wegs” here. Homey don’t play that. Yep, a (ugh, hate the term) “foodie” who doesn’t like eggs. And a reference to In Living Color. All used to explain an A Clockwork Orange reference. Things could be going downhill fast.

Psyche (totally bringing that back). Why? Because when talking about food and wine pairings, the coup de gras, the “golden goose”- if you will- has to be steak and Cabernet Sauvignon. And things can never go downhill when food and wine get busy with each other. But why is this the “alpha male” of pairings? Maybe it’s a combination of the food and the drink of royalty. Maybe it’s the red meat and the red wine. Or maybe- just maybe- it’s because they’re so damn good together. The strong flavor and richness of beef are perfectly counterbalanced by the backbone and tannin of Cab…aka the “King of Red Grapes” (or the “Bono of Red Grapes”…but alas, that if foreshadowing to another post).

Tonight, it was iron skillet filet mignon, pan roasted yukon gold potatoes, and brussel sprouts w/ pancetta. Nothing earth-shattering or Iron Chef worthy, but I guarantee those starving kids in China my mom always talked about as a kid would eat it. The brussel sprouts- especially if you remember them as a dreadful hurdle of the childhood table- were wicked good. Onions, garlic and sliced sprouts fried in pancetta fat, then steamed with white wine. But let’s cut to brass tax: the best part was the meat, simply seasoned with sea salt, cracked pepper, and olive oil, and seared in a hot skillet. Luckily, there’s a butcher shop across the street from my house (yes, in Woodstock, GA), so having a good quality cut never hurts. I mean, look at that meat. You want to kiss it, don’t you? C’mon. Don’t be shy. I won’t tell anyone. “Hey, I ain’t just a piece of meat!” says the filet. Silly filet. You can’t talk.

And while you can have the meat as your own, why not bring a third into the mix? It’s not kinky, because it’s meant to be. I did. Cabernet Sauvignon and steak go together like Tom and Roseanne Arnold, without the messy divorce. I had a darn good one too (disclosure: given to me as a sample). The 2004 Jacob’s Creek St. Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon was clearly well-made: a balance of fruit, acidity, tannin, and alcohol. Lots of Australian Cabs can tend to be overly fruity and massive with alcohol, but this one came in at a reasonable 14.5%, and while it was fruit-forward (being true to the typical Aussie style of wine), it displayed some really nice notes of subtle green pepper, dark chocolate, graphite, and spice under all that dark fruit. No mouthful of oak, no fake, fruit punch flavors. The tannins, fruit, acid, and alcohol busted a move together well in my mouth. Also true to the Australian style, the tannins didn’t dry my mouth out like I ate one of those packets that say “silica gel: do not eat” you find in your new shoes (don’t ask). They were pretty smooth, but added enough structure to make it feel like a Cab. Overall, a nice match to filet mignon, which is not known as the most flavorful of steaks. A smooth steak for a smooth wine. And my belly. ‘Twas the kind of threesome a mother-in-law wouldn’t be shocked to read about on your blog (I think…we’ll see). Anyway, the Jacob’s Creek folks say to lay this one down for 10 years. I think it’s good to go now (6 years after harvest), and I could see you squeezing 5 more years if you want to hang onto it as a “sorry I offended you, mother-in-law” gift down the road.

But enough about me and my pal Jacob. What’s your favorite steak (cut, preparation) and Cab pairing? It’s nothing original, but between the variations of meats, cooking methods, seasonings, and especially areas where great Cabernet Sauvignon is made, surely it’s an interesting question. And if you don’t answer, you might be subject to a bit of the “ol’ ultraviolence.”

I kid.


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