For intensely flavoured stews with a rich, thick meat sauce sauce, the best red wine to pair up with your beef stew are Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux or Shiraz.. These red wines will be able to hold their own against the rich sauce, provided the sauce isn’t tomato-based. For tomato-based Beef Stew, you’ll require a red wine balanced with acidity, such as a Barolo, Barbaresco or Zinfandel.
For less dense sauces, the best red wines to pair with Beef Stew are Vinsobres, Burgundy, Nero D’Avola or a red Côtes du Rhône make for an excellent pairing. Burgundy and Pinot Noir are also exceptional with Beef Bourguignon which is a beef stew that has been braised in red wine and flavoured with carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms, bacon and garlic.
Best Wine with Beef Stew
Shiraz & Beef Stew
Shiraz has beautiful black pepper and spice notes that merge perfectly with a hearty beef and adds a lot of excitement when pitted against beef stew. You’ll also get delicious flavours of dark chocolate, jam, raspberry, vanilla, and smoke that will complement and contrast the rich stew flavours. Australia is regarded as one of the best producers of Shiraz, and when hunting down a bottle, it’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of all they have to offer.
Australian Shiraz can be super affordable or hella expensive. The expensive versions of Shiraz are bombastic and oaked (oak ageing adds money). Meanwhile, bargain ranged Shiraz is toned down but it’s meant more for every day food, such as hamburgers, pizza or sausages. A mid-tier Shiraz will do a better job at complementing a thick Beef Stew that you spent hours slow cooking on a Sunday afternoon. With a mid-tier Shiraz around the $35 mark and up that has seen some oak ageing, expect complex jammy fruit, spice, dark chocolate, and vanilla notes. For high-level Shiraz, expect the complexity and loudness of the Shiraz to be dialed up to eleven.
If you want a less fruity and more earthy and herbal Shiraz, hunt down a French-based Syrah (which is the same grape of Shiraz). With Syrah, you’ll still find refreshing notes of blackberry and raspberry, however, you can expect earthier notes of herbs, leather, meat, bacon, tobacco, smoke and spice, along with black pepper to shine through. I’d highly recommend a Syrah paired with Beef Stew prepared at home and served in an intimate setting. For banquets or large gatherings, the jammy fruitiness of Australian Shiraz is a bigger crowd-pleaser.
Cabernet Sauvignon & Beef Stew Pairing
The rich flavour and high tannin of Cabernet Sauvignon make it an excellent pairing with Beef Stew. With a young Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll find the hearty meat in a beef stew will tame the grippy tannin, which softens the wine up and brings out its fruity flavours of plum, black cherry, cassis and blackberry. Young Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect with a Beef Stew you’ve whipped up in a couple of hours, as the tannin in the wine naturally breaks down the beef proteins. This helps soften up the beef making it taste even more delicious and savoury.
If you’ve slow-cooked your Beef Stew for hours, an aged Cabernet Sauvignon is the way to go, as it will hold up to the hearty flavours of your Beef Stew while still complementing the complex flavours. Expect a less fruit-forward red wine with savoury flavours of green peppercorn, pencil shavings, old leather, smoke and tobacco, which complements the density of beef stew.
I often recommend Cabernet Sauvignon from California, as it is the biggest crowd-pleaser with its vibrant plum and blackberry flavours, as well as its teasing notes of mint leaf, tobacco and pencil lead. However, many other countries produce exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and will charge you a lot less for it. Chile, for example, creates exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon for under $20 and will deliver fascinating notes of green peppercorn (if made in the cooler coastal areas) and baking spice. Argentina Cabernet Sauvignon tastes of cassis, graphite, tobacco and spice. Meanwhile, Southern Australia’s Cabernet Sauvignon delivers flirty notes of chocolate, eucalyptus and white pepper that will drive you wild when enjoyed with beef stew.
Barolo & Beef Stew Pairing
Barolo is an epic red wine, and makes for a fascinating pairing with Beef Stew. Balanced with Acidity, Barolo will hold up to Beef stew where tomato is a major component. That’s because the acidity of tomato will make wines that are pure tannin beasts taste like they are being served out of rusty tin can as tomato and tannin clash. While Barolo is a tannic beast, it has an equal amount of acidity to hold up to the tomato in your beef stew.
For Beef Stew you’ve slaved over from dusk until dawn and contains mushrooms, truffles and root vegetables, you’ll want to serve up an aged Barolo. Aromatic and bitter, aged Barolo delivers notes of licorice, tar, brown spice, truffle, and dark chocolate will all fit in with the earthy and savoury flavours of your Beef Stew.
Barolo often requires decades of ageing before it’s ready to drink, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still take it for a test drive. For young Barolo, serving it up with something fatty and protein-based, like Beef Stew, is going to soften the wine up. With young Barolo, expect notes of raspberry, violet, plum, roses and anise. The thick chunks of beef in your stew will soften up the tannin making the wine palatable. Without protein and fat, Barolo will smack you in the face. Hard. I’d reserve a young Barolo with a simpler preparations of Beef Stew where the dish hasn’t had time to integrate and develop complex flavours. In this instance, a young Barolo will be tamed by the stew while introducing some complex notes of tobacco, smoke, and tar, filling the gaps you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Nero D’Avola & Beef Stew
Nero d’Avola is a medium-bodied, dry red wine from Sicily that is known for its bold black cherry, plum and raspberry fruit flavours. On top of that, you get some earthy herbal notes, as well as mocha, licorice, and espresso, which add new and exciting flavours to your beef stew.
Nero d’Avola is high in tannin as well as acidity and you’ll find that the tannin is tamed by the savoury chunks of beef in your stew. Meanwhile, the acidity of Nero D’Avola will cleanse your palate of dense sauce your stew was simmered in. High acidity also ensures your Nero D’Avola will jive well with any style of Beef Stew that contains tomatoes.
Côtes du Rhône & Beef Stew Pairing
Côtes du Rhône is a medium-bodied red wine with a fruity yet mild earthy flavour that makes it ideal for pairing with a wide variety of dishes. What makes Côtes du Rhône exceptional with beef stew is its earthy notes of black pepper, smoke, meat, and smoke that complements the beef along with any slow-roasted root vegetables and mushrooms. Meanwhile, when paired with this thick dish, the playful fruity flavours of raspberry, strawberry and cassis of Côtes du Rhône comes off as refreshing, smooth and juicy.
Blended with up to 23 different grapes, Côtes du Rhône varies from producer to producer and from year to year. However, it’s a wine that is meant to be enjoyed with food, so you’re almost guaranteed to find something delicious to go great with your Beef Stew. When in the wine shop, select a Côtes du Rhône Villages if you can, as it often serves up even more complex flavours to marry with your Beef Stew.