Best Wine with Prime Rib

Prime rib is one of the more expensive beef cuts, but it’s also well-marbled with fat and very tender. An excellent cut for slow roasting. When you think of a prime rib roast, are you thinking about it for special occasions? If so, you’ll probably want to know what wine to drink with this meal.

Reds are best. But why?

Prime Rib goes great with more robust Merlots, Bordeauxs, or Bordeaux-style blends, and younger, more tannin-forward Barberas or Cabernet-based wines. A meaty dish such as prime rib pairs perfectly with the arid, tannic flavors of full-bodied wines. The tannins in these reds bind to the protein in the meat. This means the wine tastes different when paired with prime rib, compared to drinking it on its own. The tannins are reduced, which gives the rib a welcome juicy texture and leaves your palate less dry.

Think Bold Reds

Cabernet Sauvignon tends to go great with a beefy, meaty cut, too, such as the Lancaster Prime Rib roast. Tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec, and Barolo pair well with grilled beef. When it comes to pairing red wines with roast or barbecued beef, there is truly an array of choices. As you can see, choosing a wine to pair with a prime rib roast can be pretty exciting.

It is not difficult to find a red that works. Personal preference plays a part in wine-food pairing. Consider cut, age, cooking time, and accompaniments if you are looking to attempt a more exact pairing. The best wine for your celebration, of course, depends on what you are cooking. Whether that is roast beef with a side of horseradish cream, perfect prime rib, or a fancy pork crown roast.

Compliments are usually what happens when lighter meats and wines go together. There is an interesting synergy that occurs when intensely flavored, richly-fatty red meat meets heavier red wines. Especially ones that have a lot of tannins. One major consideration is how much fat and richness is present in the meat. As opposed to how much tannin is present in the wine. Tannins add balance, complexity, and structure to a prime rib. Whereas the fat in the meat reduces acidity in the red, making it more muted and less robust.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Prime rib and red wine are a match made in heaven. The additional tannins in the wine tenderize the fats and tenderize the meat, unlocking all of its flavor potential. All that tasty meat fat needs a little acid to break it up. A structured red wine is a great accompaniment for ribs. When pairing a young Cabernet Sauvignon with a cut like a rich, tender prime rib, the muscle fat softens up the dry mouth tannins. You get that beautiful fruit indeed.

It is also a wine that is super rich in tannins. This means that it is going to hold up well against the fattened roast. This is a medium-bodied wine, and it has quite a bit of tannin, although not overpowering. If you are a newbie wine drinker, do not focus too much on details. Any Cabernet Sauvignon bottle you grab is bound to taste great alongside your prime rib roast.

Petite Sirah

With the dark berries solidly in the heart, the soft tannins and peppery notes come together beautifully with the Petite Sirah. It has a chewy, plump aroma wrapped up in smokey, leathery notes, giving it a deeper profile. Syrah is responsible for deep, inky reds with robust tannins, and its medium-to-full body pairs well with prime rib. Syrah – or Shiraz is a chewy, full-bodied wine that has notes of pepper, berries, tobacco, and smoke, making it a great accompaniment to meaty dishes such as a prime rib. The signature Syrah aromas of black pepper and braised meat are there, but the wine has a grace, almost femininity, to it that sets it apart from your typical reds from the Rhone Valley of France.

Rioja Gran Reserva

Rioja Gran Reserva goes great with prime rib as it is dry and tart, helping to balance out the fat while not overpowering it with sweetness. The barbecued meats also meld beautifully with the Rioja Gran Reserva, developing earthiness and musk.

Other excellent wines to go with prime rib include a Syrah, a Rhone Valley, a Rioja, or a Barolo, as the marrow of prime rib works in concert with the hard tannins of young Cabernet Sauvignon, to accentuate great fruit flavors. We would not suggest Cabernet Sauvignon with an unaged prime rib, as it has a mellower taste, requiring a wine more subdued, such as Malbec. A prime rib dinner packs in plenty of flavors, which is better with a bolder red like Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, or a Super Tuscan.

If you are looking to really go all out, a Barolo with a prime beef rib in a fine dining restaurant is the pairing to experience once in a lifetime. Though they are noticeably more tender and flavorful than the choice of beef rib roast, I am totally fine with binging on both. Prime rib roast has higher fat content in the gut and is marbled. It is a perfect dish for those wines with a higher tannin profile. Fortunately, the high fat and protein content in prime rib roast tempers its searing tannins, allowing for a much smoother wine-drinking experience.

Get the Right Cut!

Choosing the right cuts of beef is somewhat similar to choosing a wine to go with it. Pairing wine with beef depends on the cut itself, as well as the way it is cooked. My general rule when pairing wine with beef is pairing lean cuts with wines that are lighter or medium-bodied, and beef cuts that are more robust will go with more robust wines. Stay away from sweet or fruity flavors in your beef–their sweetness will overpower the flavors in dry red wines.

For something as rich as a prime rib roast, which comes with its own juices, I like choosing a wine that is just a moderate weight but has enough heft to complement the flavors of the medium-rare beef. Whether you are serving up a pair of juicy steaks, or an expansive roast for a smaller crowd, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to pairing great wines with beef. Whether you are making a special sauce or basting the roast in wine as it slowly cooks in the oven, choosing the right wine is still essential.

Conclusion

There are a few options and as explained, they are all red. You can’t go wrong with a Rioja, Shiraz, or perhaps a Malbec. However, this is the time to uncork the Cabernet. The tannins in the wine complement the strong flavors of the beef, but they also act like a solvent. It dissolves much of the fat off of your palate’s taste buds, allowing you to keep enjoying that prime cut of meat until the meal is over. This is classic Cabernet territory. Well-balanced wines will have the tannins to help dissolve the fat, acidity to bring up the plate, and lots of black fruit flavors to hold up against the heft of the meat.

If you are looking for a good recipe for prime rib, I recommend Chef John’s Perfect Prime Rib on Allrecipes.com.

If you enjoyed this you should check out our best wine pairing for steak here. You might also be interested in the Best wine for Short Beef Ribs.