Medium-bodied red wines with high acidity, such as Pinot Noir, Morgon, Barbera, Chianti and Zinfandel pair best with Sauerbraten. Sauerbraten is both sweet (from crumbled ginger snaps) and sour (from lots of vinegar), making it tricky to pair wine with. A chilled Lager is going to trump any wine in this situation.
Sauerbraten is a German slow-cooked Pot Roast, where beef is marinated in a mixture of vinegar, herbs and spices. When cooked, Sauerbraten is served with a sweet gravy that is made with red wine and gingersnap crumbs. The result is a hearty dish with bold, rich, sweet and tangy flavours. The sour vinegar component of Sauerbraten requires an acidic red wine, as tannin-heavy red wines could clash with the tanginess and come across as tasting metallic.
Pinot Noir in Germany is called Spätburgunder, and if you want to stick to local cuisine, Spätburgunder is the way to go for this pairing. Any medium-bodied Pinot Noir should work, as Pinot Noir is high in acidity, so you don’t have to worry about it clashing with the tangy vinegar component of this dish.
I can’t give this pairing anything higher than three and a half stars, unfortunately, as Pinot Noir won’t stand up to this dish’s bold and rich flavours very well. You’ll still taste the cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavours of the wine, however, the wine doesn’t make the dish taste any better. I feel like the earthy truffle and forest floor of your Pinot Noir will get lost in the mix as well.
Good Pinot Noir is expensive, and I don’t want to waste my money using a good Pinot Noir with Sauerbraten as the dish will destroy all the elegant flavours of Pinot Noir. You could go with much less expensive Morgon, which is a Beaujolais Cru, but I feel like that is a bit of a waste, too. The pairing will taste just fine, and your guests will enjoy it, however, you’ll also be missing out on what makes Pinot Noir so fabulous.
Zinfandel & Sauerbraten Pairing
If I were eating Sauerbraten, Zinfandel is the wine I’d pair it up with. I find Zinfandel works well with sweet and sour meaty dishes. Zinfandel has a perceived sweetness as it has loud flavours of raspberry, cherry, plum and blackberries. You’ll also find notes of spice, black pepper, and smoke which all go great with the rich, beefy flavours of Sauerbraten.
For this pairing to work, you’ll need an un-oaked Zinfandel. Oak in wine costs money, so to stick on the safe side, stick to a Zinfandel between $25 and $35. Zinfandel, which is $55 or more, will most likely be oaked and too tannic for the vinegar used in Sauerbraten.
Riesling & Sauerbraten Pairing
An Off-Dry Riesling will pair just fine with a Sauerbraten. If you want to stick to German Riesling, Spätlese is the wine you’ll want to hunt down. Riesling, being a bit sweet and high in acidity, will mirror the sweet and tangy flavours of Sauerbraten. In addition, you’ll enjoy the citrus, peach and pear flavours of Riesling as they’ll keep you refreshed.
Will Riesling make Sauerbraten taste any better? No, not really. Riesling is not amazing with beef, as the white wine is too light for the dense and rich flavours of Sauerbraten. However, Riesling won’t clash with the sourness of the vinegar or the sweetness of the gingersnaps either, and the off-dry sweetness of Riesling will keep you feeling quite happy as you chug away at your meal.