Whether your favorite method for backyard steaks involves laboring over fragrant charcoal, tinkering with different types of wood smoke, or working with a less fussy gas range, grilling keeps you out of the sweltering kitchen and puts the party where it belongs when the mercury rises — outside.
It’s a myth that a great steak needs no accoutrement — serving with a side of Chilean pebre can elevate the entire experience. While you’ve got the grill fired up, it’s worth tossing on some of this season’s bountiful vegetables to accompany your main course. Sliced eggplant, zucchini, or yellow squash, oil-brushed ears of corn, and even stone fruit, like peaches, all make the most of late summer’s harvest.
Of course, once the grilling’s done, you’ll want the right wine to show off your hard work. No steak dinner would be complete without a glass of red wine, and Chile has many options that will elevate whatever’s on the table. With a sprawling coastline of more than 2,600 miles and cool winds that come down from the Andes, Chile’s varied landscape offers a range of microclimates where an equally broad spectrum of grapes can thrive. Here, producers are increasingly investing in sustainable, organic, and biodynamic practices, placing utmost importance on grape quality and taking care of the planet at the same time. If you’re going to opt for outstanding grass-fed beef, it only makes sense to drink a wine that’s made with similar care.
As all steaks are not created equal, we’ve created some guidelines to help you find the Chilean wine that will best accompany whatever’s coming off your grill. In general, match like with like: A bodacious Cabernet Sauvignon will elevate an equally substantial cut. On the other hand, a more restrained coastal Syrah will make way for a melt-in-your-mouth filet. See below for more great matches:
Here are some further details on each of the pairings:
Cabernet Sauvignon + Ribeye
A big steak needs a big partner. Choose a black cherry–rich, peppery Cabernet from Chile’s Aconcagua or Maipo regions to complement this hearty cut. Serve it with pebre, a Chilean condiment composed of cilantro, onions, tomatoes, garlic, chile peppers, and olive oil.
Carménère + Sirloin Salad
Re-discovered in Chile after disappearing from Bordeaux in the 19th century due to phylloxera, Carménère has stood the test of time. With moderate tannins, sturdy acidity, and aromas of green bell peppers, Carménère, particularly from Chile’s Colchagua or Cachapoal regions, is a good choice for tender steak sliced thin over spinach with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion.
Syrah + Porterhouse
Syrah from Chilean regions like Casablanca, Limari, or Elqui, tends to have a bold, earthy palate and enough structure to stand up to a caveman-style cut that’s adorned with nothing more than some flaky salt.
Cabernet Sauvignon + New York Strip
With this, the workhorse of steaks, look for a bottle with a tart, peppery nose to cut through the fat. Cabernets from the Rapel Valley are a good option.
Pinot Noir + Hanger Steak Tacos
With plush red plum and allspice notes, Pinot Noir from the Leyda Valley, Casablanca, and Bíobío regions pairs well with a textural hanger steak. Slice the steak and serve it in corn tortillas with grilled peppers for tacos.
Red Blend + Filet Mignon
Red blends, particularly from Aconcagua or Alto Maipo, have a lean, bright acidity and herbal edge that can add a new dimension to buttery filet mignon. Wrapping the steak in bacon will only elevate the experience.
País + Steak Tartare
The vines of País are steeped in history, they have been growing in Chile for over 450 years! Pair elegant steak tartare with lightly chilled País from the Maule or Bíobío regions, a lightly tannic, red fruit-forward wine ideal for accompanying more delicate flavors or for swirling on the patio all night long.
Some of these dishes call for a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon; find your perfect Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon with our taste profile quiz here!
This article is sponsored by Wines of Chile.