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What to drink with surf and turf?

I really hadn't given this much thought until now, since we were just planning on pulling out one of our "good" bottles to drink regardless of what we were eating. (FYI, "good" in our wine cellar is 100% based on what we think of it, not what anyone else's tasting notes read, ha!)

Dinner plans include a grilled ribeye, pasta and pesto, broiled lobster and butter and then a dense chocolate torte. I was leaning toward the Chardonnay because of the lobster, but we've enjoyed our Zin with ribeye before. I'd rather not open two bottles, especially since we're eating it all in the same "course". I don't do multi-course meals at home because I like to sit and eat, not be up prepping the next course while the first is on the table.

Which got me to wondering... so many restaurants offer a surf 'n turf entree, how do you pair a wine to it?

I have a Cline Zin, a Mastantuono Zin, Provenance Cabernet, and Clos Pegase Chardonnay. We might still have a Far Niente Chardonnay, too. Of those choices, what do you think we should go with? Or are they all way off base and you think I should pick up a bottle of something else? Please keep in mind that until we really figure out our wine palates and nuances, I'd rather not jump out for a $60 bottle of wine. $30 would be my limit for now.

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  1. Sounds like a tasty meal! Would you happen to have a nice bottle of bubbly in the house? That's probably what I'd reach for, as it would stand up to the richness of the steak, and also pair very well with the pesto and lobster w/ butter. Without getting too specific on the pairing dynamics of each ingredient, probably any slightly fuller body Cali bubbly would do. Also, and if possible, a brut Rosé could really be a nice fit here, and it sure looks pretty too. And if there's still some left for dessert, it should pair deliciously with your chocolate torte.

    If not, and my choices were limited to what is listed above, then I'd choose a Chardonnay. Never had one with rib-eye before, but they're both fairly masculine, so they should fair well body-wise. I'd rather take my chances with that then with a Zin and Lobster combo. I'm curious as to what the others might have to say.

    And if anyone's tried said Lobster-Zin match, please do give details!

    Cheers, and good luck!

    1. Given what you have on hand, I'd opt for the Chard, too.

      1. That is such a tough question. What else are you serving?

        To me..red meat is not complete without cabernet, but I like the idea of a really big Chard as well. Either way, one of the entree's is going to suffer.

        1 Reply
        1. Aside from the Brut Rose, I'd go out and buy a Vac-u-vin, with a couple of stoppers. I'd open the Chard for the lobster (Champagne would work well too, but you might need a Champagne stopper!), and then the Zin for the steak. Just place the stoppers in the bottle, give it a few good pumps, and put both bottles in the fridge for the next night.

          I might just pour the Chard to start drinking, while the lobster is in the oven (or grill) and the steak is on the fire. With two folk, you shouldn't have too much of it left over.

          Hunt

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Ha ha ha! With me being such a lightweight, I'm usually good for MAYBE a glass and a half of booze. That's with food. After that, the "flavor" of alcohol (in anything - wine, spirits, beer, anything) gets to me and I don't like it any more. The Cline Zin was so smooth and tasty, I easily drank more than my half of the bottle. And then I kept falling off the couch. But it was still good, and it did match our steaks perfectly (just steak, no seafood).

            1. re: leanneabe

              Leanneabe,

              Practice, practice, practice (Grin). I understand completely. I keep telling my wife, that I am in "training" for the next big tasting... Somehow, I do not think that she believes me.

              Still, there is NOTHING wrong with capping the bottle (I've had the best luck chilling reds and whites - just remember to allow the red to come up to temp, and the white a bit less so), and saving it for the next night, or the next. While I have not done a control experiment on inert-gas evacuation vs. the Vac-u-vin, the little pump does a nice job. I've got several nitrogen purge systems, and do not think I've used any of them for some years. Much of this might well be because a bottle (except Madieria, Olorosa Sherry and Port), never stay open for all that long around here.

              Hunt

          2. Your menu is about as far from a "one wine" affair as you can possibly get. There just isn't one wine that's going to marry all of the 3 entrees, let alone matching up with your dessert.

            Here are what IMO are your best matches for this meal:

            GRILLED RIBEYE: Barolo is first choice. Zinfandel, Cabernet, Merlot are all quite nice also.

            PASTA w/ PESTO SAUCE: Hands down my favorite match for Pesto is Sauvignon Blanc...

            LOBSTER w/ BUTTER SAUCE: Gotta be Chardonnay, especially given the heavy butter element.

            CHOCOLATE TORTE: A sweet muscat or Moscato d'Asti

            This meal would be sent to the next level with these correct pairings, and it doesn't have to be expensive. You'd be alot better off going out and getting twist-top $1.75 bottles of Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.. One 187ml bottle each for you and your dinner-mate, that comes to $10.50 THEN splurging on a $15 bottle of Moscato d'Asti.... so your total wine tab is around $25.00 and you're getting 4 wines, not one. This would be infinitely more flavorful than any single bottle on your winerack... save those for special occasions which focus on one or two food items, or for larger gatherings where you bring the red and someone else brings the white, etc.

            As for what to have with a surf & turf when dining out... one glass of red and one glass of white. The red could be any listed above. For the white if there's alot of butter or cream with the lobster then Chardonnay is my first choice, otherwise Viognier, Kabinett, and Champagne are all very nice matches also.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chicago Mike

              I agree completely. Nothing wrong with having several wines. I'll usually do at least one per course, with maybe 2-3 for the main. Now, I usually have enough willing souls to empty all the bottles, so that isn't a big deal.

              On to the dessert: "CHOCOLATE TORTE: A sweet muscat or Moscato d'Asti" sounds good to me. A few other thoughts: the best pairing that I have ever experienced with a "flourless" chocolate torte was Young's Double Chocolate ale, and the next was Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter. Yes, I know that this is the WINE board, but even my most wine-geeky guests fell for the Young's ("Hey, Hunt, this 'wine's' got a head on it... "). Also, a touch of raspberry compote on the torte, and a full-bodied Merlot (I think Beringer's Howell Mtn, Bancroft Ranch, or a biggie from Sullivan, or Duckhorn) pair wonderfully. They also work well with the cheese course, that usually preceeds, along with an older Bdx., Cal-Cab, Rioja, etc.

              Hunt