With its tender buttery texture but subtle beefy flavours, Filet Mignon pairs best with red wines that showcase soft tannins such as mature Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Rioja Reserva. Filet Mignon is a tender but lean cut of meat, focused less on flavour, and more on texture, so bold red wines need not apply. When seeking these wines out, aim for reds that are less fruit-forward, and deliver earthy flavours such as mushroom, cigar box, pencil lead, tobacco, or leather.
Filet Mignon is cut from the thin end of the tenderloin region of the cow, while Chateaubriand steaks come from the middle and wider side. Filet Mignon is the perfect size for one person and Chateaubriand is the size of a small roast where two or more portions can be served.
Best Wine with Filet Mignon
Bordeaux & Filet Mignon Pairing
If you are new to the world of wine, Bordeaux is a difficult wine to figure out as it’s a blended red wine from France that comes in at a huge range of price points. Some Bordeaux might cost you thousands of dollars, and others might be under twenty. If you are eating Filet Mignon, however, a perfect Bordeaux exists out there for you, and if you are splurging, you might as well go with something over $50.
Bordeaux is meant to be a food-friendly wine as it’s a blend of five grapes, and the most dominant grape will either be a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot. The most expensive bottles feature the best grapes harvested that year, and the cost goes down accordingly by the quality of the grapes, blend of grapes, and oak aging. You could buy a budget-friendly Bordeaux in the $20-$40 range and pair it with Filet Mignon, and the pairing will be fine, but it would not be extraordinary.
For the best possible experience, you’ll want a pricier Bordeaux, which has been matured so that tannins are soft, and this process makes Bordeaux even more pricier. You will either need to cellar the bottle for a decade or purchase the bottle from a restaurant, wine store, or collector who has aged the wine for you. You can also find Bordeaux that is ready to drink, but it’s best to consult an expert to see if that bottle is ready to drink with Filet Mignon.
A softer tannin Bordeaux is a must, as young Bordeaux that is not ready to drink has harsh tannin that will obliterate the rich and subtle flavours of Filet Mignon. Filet Mignon does not pack the high fat content that Ribeye Steak or a NY Strip Steak has, thus, it is not going to have a lot of flavour. When fully mature, Bordeaux has a velvety texture that complements the mouthfeel of Filet Mignon perfectly. The fruity notes of cassis, plum and black cherry will be present, yet muted, allowing the complex layers of mocha, vanilla, smoke, earth, and leather to add character to the pairing.
Cabernet Sauvignon & Filet Mignon Pairing
A mature Cabernet Sauvignon has a plush and smooth texture that matches the decadent mouthfeel of Filet Mignon. Restrained notes of cassis, chocolate, plum, smoke, tobacco, mint and leather further complement and contrast the tender Filet Mignon flavours. There are so many styles of Cabernet Sauvignon, so if you are unfamiliar with the wine, you’ll need to do some research or ask an expert from where you are buying the bottle. Some Cabernet Sauvignon is big, bold and brooding, while others are elegant and balanced with earth, fruit and a smoky minerality.
Big and powerful Cabernet Sauvignon needs to stay far away from Filet Mignon as it is too powerful for this mild flavour steak. Filet Mignon is much too lean, and is often cooked rare to medium-rare to retain its flavour, thus, you don’t want a heavy red wine to strip all that subtle flavour away.
Merlot & Filet Mignon Pairing
The popular style of Merlot in North America is much softer than Cabernet Sauvignon (although there are many exceptions), making it a less riskier pairing if you are uncertain about wine. Often medium-bodied, Merlot has smooth chocolate, vanilla, plum, and cherry flavour that works perfectly with Filet Mignon. The contrasting fruit flavours keep your palate refreshed in between bites, while the velvety chocolate and vanilla notes complement the subtle beef flavours.
Pinot Noir & Filet Mignon Pairing
Pinot Noir is my favourite pairing with Filet Mignon, as I often know what I’m getting into with this red wine. Good Pinot Noir is always expensive, but it’s also light, fruity, earthy and mesmerizing. Welcoming flavours of cherry, strawberry and raspberry politely flood your senses before notes of truffle, vanilla, chocolate and smoke swirl themselves into the mix.
Filet Mignon is expensive and should be paired with a red wine of a similar caliber, such as Pinot Noir. Both the steak mirror one another in body, weight and price, making for a wonderful match.
Rioja Reserva & Filet Mignon Pairing
Rioja Reserva or Gran Reserva are Spanish red wines that have softened tannins that complement the buttery texture of your Filet Mignon. With notes of blackberry, cherry, plum and raspberry, Rioja offers up plenty of refreshing flavours. When fully mature, the fruitiness still exists but is toned down, allowing for complex notes of chocolate, coconut, vanilla, leather and earth to shine through. Like Pinot Noir, Rioja Reserva is an elegant and smooth red wine. If you want to splurge even further, treat yourself to a Rioja Gran Reserva.
The main difference between Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva is that Gran Reserva Rioja isn’t made every year, as it is only made during spectacular growing seasons. This makes Gran Reserva pricier as it is much rarer, plus it is aged for a little longer. I guarantee you, however, this will be a pairing you will never forget.