So, here I am. Right where I never wanted to end up. Just another jerkoff giving tips on wine & food pairing...wait a minute...I guess that's what I've been doing this whole time when I've not been busy with the existential elements of wine appreciation.
I digress, and I'm gonna make it.
This is something you can, and should do at home, given that we're in the middle of a global health crisis. If you take the right steps, the steak tartare is certainly achievable. And if you try it with what I'm telling you to try it with, it's more than worth it.
For your steak tartare, follow this guide by Macheesmo.com:
Sure, it's the first one that I googled, but it's well-written and spelled out in a matter-of-fact way, with classic, no-bullshit ingredients that will lead you to a delicious and proper steak tartare.
Don't fuck it up. K?
Now that we've got that part out of the way, let's get around to why this not-so-obvious-to-everyone pairing is the greatest thing since Port & Snickers™. No, Port & Stilton™. No, Port & Yachts™.
OK, I'm done.
I have been fortunate to experience this magical duo on a number of occasions, the first of which involved a single-vineyard Chardonnay from Quails' Gate in the Okanagan Valley, or arguably, one of the best producers of Chardonnay outside of Burgundy, for my money. Rosemary's Bench, I believe, was the name of the site. Drank at the winery alongside their version of steak tartare. They had incorporated some kind of buttered popcorn element. I think that put it over the top.
Here's why it works, especially with a Burgundian-style, moderately-oaked Chardonnay with some weight and texture, but also steady acidity:
The steak tartare is delicate. Yes, it's red meat, but it doesn't have A) The intense heat and flavour from being seasoned heavily and grilled or pan-roasted, or B) The size of the piece of steak you'd slice off to take a bite. It's softer because it's finely chopped, the flavours are more delicate and subtle; it's character is almost...buttery, to speak of chardonnay as a match. Weight wise, a medium-to-full bodied chardonnay matches beautifully. You've got the touch of acidity offered by the pickles & vinegar in the tartare, which a well-made, Burgundian-style chardy will offer plenty of. And then there's the oak/malolactic qualities of chardonnay. We think of fire and smoke as qualities of a perfectly grilled steak. But for tartare, the purity of French and/or American oak and it's vanilla, dairy-like qualities is literally like spreading some sort of lemon whipped butter onto the tartare as an additional ingredient. It's like...your popcorn is fine with just salt, but it's way better with butter all over it.
That's what semi-rich chardonnay does for steak tartare. Get a Bourgogne Blanc or something from South Africa if you're on the cheap. Cool-climate California or a Rully or Saint-Veran or something from Burgundy if you're on the medium.
And if you're taking things seriously: go for the Meursault.
You won't be sorry.
But you can skip the garnish in the photograph above.
The 80s called.
They want their parsley back.