Crafting the Perfect Beef Bourguignon: Unveiling the Finest Wines for this Classic Dish

Considered by many as the mother of all stews, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as indulging in the ultimate comfort food, Beef Bourguignon. This traditional French dish, a well-loved stew of beef, bacon lardons, carrots, onions, and mushrooms, simmered to perfection in a sumptuous red wine sauce, holds a unique charm for home cooks.

This guide aims to address a common query often arising among culinary enthusiasts: “Which wine offers the best flavor and pairing for Beef Bourguignon?” Let’s take a deep dive into the world of wines and discover the perfect accompaniment to this hearty dish.

Respecting the local Burgundy tradition

As its name suggests, Beef Bourguignon, or Beef Burgundy, follows certain wine usage guidelines to maintain the essence of its traditional recipe. So it’s fitting to start our wine selection process from the Burgundy region itself.

A red wine with balanced tannins is key to offset the robust flavor of the braised beef. To enhance the flavor of your stew, it’s essential to harmonize the fattiness of your beef with your chosen wine. A full-bodied, tannin-rich wine should be your go-to choice to bring out the best in your Beef Bourguignon.

Why Pinot Noir?

Tracing back to its roots, the ideal wine for this dish is Pinot Noir, a red variety from the Burgundy region. It consists entirely of Pinot Noir grapes and can be classified as Grand Crus or Grandes Geures, depending on the specific area of production within the Burgundy region.

Pinot Noir’s structure and tannin richness makes it a perfect companion for longer-cooked meat dishes, allowing it to transform lean, inexpensive cuts into tender, wine-infused delicacies. While the wine marvellously softens the beef, it retains its delightful taste, offering a rich, flavor-packed stew.

Best Pinot Noir for Beef Bourguignon

There are some fantastic Pinot Noirs available now. My recommended three right now are as follows:

  • 2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers
    • This is towards the more expensive end of the price range but no doubt this is an exceptional wine. Les Pruliers has a strong color. The wine offers aromas of fresh red fruit, wild prunes, and licorice. As it ages, it adds depth and roundness. It has aromas of cocoa, and smoked meat. An outstanding choice for beef bourguignon.
  • 2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge
    • More affordable is the Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and naturally delicious. It has a fresh, crunchy, summer pudding fruit flavor with crisp acidity and just lip-smacking moreishness. And because it’s low in sulfur, it’s great for summer or winter drinking.
  • 2018 Corazza Pinot Nero
    • At the lower end of the price range is the Pinot Nero. This is a unique wine from Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy. It’s made from the pinot noir grape and is unlike other Pinot Noirs you might be used to. It’s light, bright, and easy to drink and works very well with beef bourguignon.

Secret sauce?

Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the best dry red wines to use when making wine-based sauces or braised meats. Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese (the primary grape of Chianti), and lighter-style cabernets are better red wines to cook with, as Merlot has a low tannin profile.

I would not recommend the standard cabernets or merlots as they are heavier, you want to choose wines that are moderately tanning and lighter. You also should go for the fruitier types of red wines, as these wines’ pleasingly fruity and sweet flavors will help to compliment your beef bourguignon.

The key to a great braised beef stew is a fresh mirepoix (or shredded vegetables) and a fragrant herb bouquet that sits atop the rich, meaty marinade made from red wine.

What makes the Cotes du Rhone outstanding for a beef stew are Cotes du Rhones earthy notes of black pepper, smoke, meat, and smoke, which complement beef, as well as any slow-roasted root vegetables and mushrooms.

For a sauce less thick in texture with beef stew, a wine like Winesobres, Nero DAvola, or a red Cotes du Rhone makes for a great match.

Using a lighter-style wine may seem surprising with a meaty Stew, but its gentler flavor than a more robust wine such as Shiraz makes it perfect to use as a marinade, to keep red wine flavors from overpowering the beef’s natural flavor.

Browning gives your braised beef that big, meaty flavor that we crave, that one that makes you want to lick the plates clean. A couple of tablespoons of flour (depending on how thick you like your stew) really adds a nice, thick texture.

Should I cook with non-alcoholic wines?

There are non-alcoholic alternatives. So, if you are not a fan of red wine or cannot drink red wine but still want that rich flavor in your stew, then the answer is ‘yes.’ Using non-alcoholic wine in your stew makes it taste nearly identical to its alcoholic cousin since the alcohol burns off during cooking.

Looking for a great recipe for beef Bourguignon? Try this from the French Cooking Academy. This is properly authentic.

Best Wine with Beef Bourguignon?

Pinot Noir is one of the popular choices of red wines for serving a meaty dish such as Beef Bourguignon. Red Burgundy wines are the traditional pairing with Beef Bourguignon, with Merlot dominating the blends in both Australia and Bordeaux. Generally, we are going to assume that the large flavors of large meat, such as beef, will call for large wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Merlot.

Boeuf Bourguignon packs chunks of tender beef and mushrooms, plump onions and carrots, and a deep, rich base of red wine. With young Cabernet Sauvignon, you will find that the rich beefy stew meats tame a harsh tannin that smooths out the wine and brings out fruity flavors of plums, black cherries, cassis, and blackberries.

Expect a red with fewer fruity characteristics, savory flavors of green peppercorns, pencil shavings, aged leather, and smoked tobacco, which compliments the meaty intensity of a beef stew.

Cotes du Rhone is the kind of wine to enjoy with this kind of hearty food, so you are guaranteed to find something tasty that will pair well with your beef stew. When you are at a wine store, opt for Cotes du Rhone Villages if you can, because they often offer even more complex flavors that pair well with your beef stew.

Conclusion

For Beef Bourguignon, my recommendation is that you stick with traditional Burgundy. If you are looking for a good counterpoint to your meaty dish, I would highly recommend a dry red Burgundy or Pinot Noir. These are my recommendations for the best red wine for beef bourguignon. Once cooked, the meat will pair well with these wines.

The 2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers is a fantastic wine for this dish, pairing beautifully with the meat and mushrooms. It is expensive but since we are discussing the best wine for beef bourguignon, it has to be on the list.

If you are looking for a more affordable option, I would recommend the 2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and delicious with beef bourguignon.

Looking for the best wine for steak? Check out my recommendations here.

If lamb is more your thing, I also wrote a post on the Best Wine for Lamb here. If it’s veal, you should take a look at the Best Wine with Veal.