It’s All in the Prep: Steak, Seasonings, and Chilean Wine

Steak and red wine is a classic pairing, but with so many variables on both fronts — diverse cuts, spices, grape varieties and regions — how do you navigate what goes with what? Don’t stress: From robust Cabernet Sauvignon to demure Pinot Noir, there’s a just-right Chilean red for any cut of steak, no matter the seasoning. Of course, some rules do apply. Need some guidance? Read on to learn how to prep a wide range of steaks — and find the wines that elevate them.

Texas-style brisket

Texas-style brisket is a crowd-pleaser in any U.S. state, but it’s definitely a major undertaking. Done right, though, you’ll end up with smoky, peppery brisket with a fall-apart texture. Trim the fat on this hefty cut to a quarter-inch and rub the entire thing with a simple mixture of kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper. Then comes the hard part: You’ll need to smoke it on a grill for up to 12 hours, rotating every three hours and checking the grill every 45 minutes to ensure the heat remains constant.

Because brisket has a high fat content, it benefits from a red wine with plenty of balancing tannins. Pair it with a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile’s Maipo Valley, where chilly mornings and hot days make for a Mediterranean climate that’s especially kind to this grape. With powerhouse black fruit flavors, a hit of spice, and a pleasantly bright acidity, these complex wines are an ample match for brisket.

Santa Maria-style tri-tip

Have some tri-tip laying around? Don’t overlook this lean but flavorful cut. We dig it prepared in central California’s Santa Maria style, a.k.a. rubbed with a zingy mix of granulated garlic, black and white pepper, spicy cayenne, dried onion, and celery seed before cooking over moderate-heat charcoal. (For best results, season the meat the night before to help it soak up as much flavor as possible.) Once the meat is on the grill, you won’t have to wait long before eating — a two-pound roast requires just 25 minutes of total cooking time, tops.

Pinot Noir is an excellent accompaniment. Go for bottles from Chile’s Limari, Leyda, San Antonio, Malleco, or Aconcagua Valleys, which benefit from cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean. This, plus rocky soils rich in limestone and clay, helps to produce bottlings that are both elegant and fresh, with lower alcohol levels and more robust flavor.

Gorgonzola-topped filet mignon

Few cuts of meat take as well to a wide range of toppings and sauces than trusty filet mignon. We’re especially partial to dry-aged versions of this lean cut, topped with pungent crumbles of gorgonzola cheese and silky, sweet caramelized onions. Have your onions cooked off before putting the meat on the grill — you’ll want to cook them slowly. Beyond that, prepping these steaks is a cinch. Just pat dry with paper towels and let air-dry uncovered in a cold fridge. From there, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss them in a sizzling hot cast iron pan set on a stove top or grill. Three minutes on each side is all you need to get a dark, beautiful crust. Just before taking the steak off the heat, throw a fat chunk of butter in the pan with a sprig of rosemary and baste the meat until it’s a tender medium rare. After the steak’s rested for 10 minutes, top it with a hearty pile of gorgonzola and onions.

This filet necessitates a precise Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rapel Valley, which is named for the river that delivers fresh, mineral-laden water from the slopes of the Andes Mountains. The result is often restrained bottlings that convey notes of black fruit and minerality, perfect for lean-but-luxurious cuts like filet mignon.

Gochujang-marinated skirt steak

The fiery Korean hot pepper paste gochujang makes for a flavor-packed marinade that’s a perfect match for fat-marbled skirt steak. Simply whisk a few tablespoons of the paste with mild rice wine vinegar and neutral vegetable oil, then slather it all over the skirt steak. Let the whole thing marinate for at least 30 minutes and as long as 12 hours in the fridge; cuts that marinate longer will have a deeper, spicier flavor. When ready, wipe off any excess marinade and gently lay the steak on a hot grill. Keep your eyes on the prize: It’ll only take four to six minutes for a crusty char to develop.

This spicy, medium-rare steak is best matched with Syrah from Chile’s Limari Valley, where the hot and relatively dry climate and summertime morning fogs produce savory wines that can mellow the gochujang’s heat.

Top dollar cheeseburger

Forget fast food. The humble burger has a whole new personality when composed of thin patties of top-quality Wagyu ground beef, sizzled to crispy perfection on a charcoal grill. Salt and pepper are all you when forming the actual patty, but don’t sleep on the toppings. Refreshing butter lettuce, razor-thin slivers of red onion, crispy strips of thick-cut bacon, sweet medallions of butter pickles, and melty slices of American cheese are musts. But most important? A rich tangy “secret sauce” of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard powder, paprika, cayenne, and a generous hit of truffle oil — liberally spread on a brioche bun, of course.

A structured Pinot Noir from Chile’s cloudy Casablanca region is just the thing to go with it. The cool Pacific breezes and mild winters here make for fresh, berry-rich wines that can cut through the cheeseburger’s rich cheese and char from the grill.

Two 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.