Best Red Wine to Cook Roast Beef

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Roast beef and red wine is a food combo that’s meant to be. The additions of aromatic roasted vegetables and the fruity acidity of dry red wine heighten the complexity of roast beef’s flavors.


Can You Roast Beef in Red Wine?

Although red wine isn’t necessary for traditional roast beef, it’s a popular, secret ingredient in many recipes, especially in pre-roast marinades and gravies. The most important step in making the perfect roast beef is a good thick cut of beef like rump roast or prime rib.

The next step is setting the oven to a high temperature to caramelize the meat and vegetables before finishing it ‌at a lower temperature.

Once the meat and the vegetables have seared and the fats from the meat have collected at the bottom of the oven pan, you can add the red wine. This deglaze the pan and creates a delicious gravy.

A bottle of wine held by two hands over a glass of wine with a bunch of grapes on a table - Best Red Wine to Cook Roast Beef.

Does Red Wine Tenderize Roast Beef?

The tannins and alcohol of red wine work as the perfect meat tenderizer. Red wine also gives the beef a richer, fruitier flavor.

Once you roast your marinated beef in the oven, the marinated cuts of beef soften. The tannins, acidity, and alcohol have broken down the fats and proteins of the meat, making them soft and juicy.


For How Long Do You Need To Marinate Roast Beef in Red Wine?

The ‌time you marinade your roast beef depends on the size of the cut. Typically, the best marinades are done between two to four hours. This allows the flavors of the marinade to become absorbed in the meat without tenderizing it too much.

If you leave the meat in a wine marinade for too long, the acidity and alcohol will start breaking apart the meat, making it less appetizing and juicy.


Can You Use Any Red Wine For Cooking Roast Beef?

The best red wines for marinating roast beef or creating a gravy are powerful tannic reds like young Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Tempranillo.

This is because the young tannins in the wine bind with the fats and proteins of the meat and tenderize them. The meat will overpower wines that are low in tannin and body.


Which Red Wine Varieties You Should Avoid Pairing With Roast Beef?

Pairing wine with roast beef can be easy. A good rule of thumb is to pair a powerful red like a young zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon. Malbec and Sangiovese are also good options because of their high tannins and dark fruit-forward flavors.

Final Thoughts on Best Red Wine for Cooking Roast Beef

Red wine isn’t necessary when cooking roast beef, but it’s a great addition. Many cooks marinade their roast beef in red wine for two to four hours before roasting it.

Other times cooks let the drippings of fat collect on a pan and use red wine to deglaze the pan and make a gravy. Whatever its use, powerful red wines should be used. The same goes for pairings.

Rich, powerful reds with bold tannins like young Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Sangiovese work magically.