Red wine is the best choice to pair with steak as the tannins, which cause the astringent feeling in the mouth, are softened by the fat. Still, deciding which red wine to pair with your dinner requires consideration toward the cut of the meat and the level of doneness. Lean meats, for example, pair best with wines that have less tannins. Cuts that have more fat, such as ribeye, can handle something more brawny. Juicy wines improve the flavor of steaks cooked to well-done, while earthier wines pair beautifully with medium-rare steaks.

To get you started, here are five wine recommendations for an excellent steak dinner.

Steak Dinner and wine

by wickenden on Flickr

For Rare Ribeye: 2008 Chono Carmenère Reserva

This Chilean Carmenère pairs perfectly with rare ribeye, or a nice strip steak. It features very silky tannins, notes of brambly fruit and blackberry with a slight hint of spice. Chono Carmenère Reserva originates in the Central Valley of Chile, where this signature grape of Chile is grown on the river plains beneath the Andes. Grapes are hand selected and 60% are barrel aged for ten months. You’ll notice this wine is very round on the palate with a wonderful suppleness.

For Grilled Steak: 2005 Mapema Malbec

There is truly no better pairing for grilled meat than a fine malbec from Argentina. You’ll find the charred and smoky flavor of the steak pairs beautifully with the savory and somewhat smoky flavor of a solid Argentinian malbec. Try the 2005 Mapema Malbec, which originates in Mendoza. This medium bodied wine has a very savory yet nuanced flavor that doesn’t compete with the steak. The wine opens with a strong black cherry flavor that hits the palate with a smooth, balanced flavor. It has a dry finish with lingering tannins with hints of mint, cocoa and exotic wood.

For Bone-In Sirloin: 2000 Ridge Monte Bello or 2001 Pichon-Longueville

If you’re serving the sirloin rare, it’s best to avoid red wines with strong tannins as the wine will taste unbalanced and a little too sweet. The 2000 Ridge Monte Bello really shines here as the lightly cooked steak allows the young wine to taste at its peak. This smooth wine has an interesting level of complexity with aromas of chocolate, smoke and spice. You’ll notice hints of beet, chocolate, cedar and licorice with some earthy undertones of dark fruit and mushroom. If you plan to serve the steak medium-rare, consider the 2001 Pichon-Longueville instead. This Red Bordeaux blend has aromas of meat, cedar, mushroom and coffee and hits the palate sweet with fine tannins and dark fruit.

For Filet Mignon: Pine Ridge 2005 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon

Filet mignon has a decadent texture and flavor unlike any other cut of meet. To match the elegance of filet mignon, try pairing it with Pine Ridge 2005 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has aromas of cinnamon, berry and mocha with a strong but not overpowering tannic structure with flavors of mild fruit and oak. It’s simply the perfect complement to the beauty of filet mignon.

For Porterhouse Steak: 2007 Les Lézardes Syrah

Looking for the ideal red wine to pair with a medium-rare porterhouse steak? Syrah wine, particularly those from the Northern Rhone, pair beautifully. 2007 Les Lézardes Syrah is an especially good choice as the herbal and cracked pepper notes of this wine truly echo the preparation of the steak while the smooth tannins pair best with this leaner cut.