Prime rib is one of the “staple” cuts in the world of butchery, and it is one of the most important cuts of beef in the culinary world.
When prepared properly, certain prime rib dishes are considered to be some of the finest proteins in the world, and the bold and intense flavors require an equally bold wine that will not get lost on the palate.
The best options for pairing wine with prime rib are true “steakhouse wines” that contain enough grippy tannins to break up the strong fats in the beef.
Top Choices for Pairing Wine with Prime Rib
1. Bordeaux Blends
The Bordeaux region of France is home to some of the most famous bottles of wine in the entire world and was one of the first wine regions on earth to gain international acclaim. It is made up of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with Cabernet Franc also used in some areas.
The strong tannins and aggressive tasting profile of the thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon are mellowed out by the Malbec, which also works to make the blend more “juicy.” Merlot is a fantastic mixing grape for increasing body, and there is no better example of this than Bordeaux.
While the Bordeaux blend has been replicated all over the world, there is no substitute for wine from one of the famous Chateau of Bordeaux. Everything from affordable everyday bottles to sought-after treasures worth thousands of dollars is produced here every year.
Chateau Margaux is one of the most famous wine producers in the entire world, and many bottles of their famous Bordeaux blend sell for thousands of dollars at auction. This makes for a luxurious pairing, as it combines one of the most upscale wines with the best cut of beef.
For wine enthusiasts on a budget who are looking for a fantastic prime rib pairing, Château Cantemerle offers the classic Bordeaux taste at a fraction of the cost of the most famous Château. It has received high marks from various wine enthusiasts and can be found for $30.
Malbec is a strong and heavily pigmented red wine that has found a home in the emerging wine country of Argentina. While the grape originated in France, the Mendoza region of Argentina is the leading producer of Malbec today.
Malbec from Mendoza is oak aged, and the result of this aging is a smoky and complex wine that carries strong earthy notes of leather and tobacco. These strong-tasting notes make for a perfect match when paired with the bold flavors of a succulent cut of prime rib.
Decanter is one of the largest online wine publications today, and they have included Malbec on their “Wine With Beef: Pairing Advice” piece that is full of fantastic pairing advice. Many sommeliers swear by Argentinian Malbec when it comes to tricky Prime Rib pairings.
Cobos Malbec is one of the finest bottles of wine being produced in the country of Argentina today, and it has received high marks from some of the most well-respected wine critics in the world. This expensive bottle of Malbec makes for a luxurious and enticing wine pairing.
Bodega Aleanna ‘El Enemigo’ Malbec is an everyday and affordable bottle of Malbec that delivers high quality at a reasonable price point. This strong and highly pigmented red wine stands up to the fats and heavy flavors of even the richest prime rib with sauce.
Syrah is a French wine grape that has been described by many wine enthusiasts as tasting similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but with more spice on the back of the palate. This makes it one of the best options for pairing with pepper-crusted Prime Rib or preparations with spicy sauces.
While warm weather new world wine countries like Australia and the United States have become prolific producers of the Syrah grape, France is still the worldwide leader in terms of production. Some of the best Syrah in the world contain grippy tannins that are well-balanced.
Drink & Pair is one of the leading online publications when it comes to food and wine pairing guides, and they have listed Syrah as one of the optimal pairings when it comes to prime rib dishes. While all Syrah is well suited for this luscious red meat, French Syrah reigns supreme.
Domaine Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie La Landonne is a fantastic bottle of Syrah from the Cote Rotie region of France. This is one of the most famous bottles of Syrah in the world and delivers on bold spicy flavors and grippy tannins that work harmoniously with prime rib.
Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle is another classic French example of high-quality Syrah that hails from the Hermitage region. This is one of the most recognizable bottles of Syrah in the world and is highly respected in the wine community.
4. Barolo and Barbaresco
Barolo and Barbaresco are two of the most highly respected sub-regions in all of Italy and are hands down the most respected in the Piedmont region. Both produce the highest quality bottles of Nebbiolo that can be found anywhere in the world.
The wines produced in Barbaresco are often referred to as “gateway wines,” as they are slightly less tannic and easier to drink for unacclimated palates when compared with Barolo. While sometimes considered “less serious,” Barbaresco hits all the notes of a top-tier Nebbiolo.
The wines of Barolo are considered by many to be the highest quality and most refined bottles of Nebbiolo in the entire world. These wines are both tannic and acidic, and often carry a brick red or orange color after cellar aging.
What makes these dry and complex Nebbiolo-based red wines such a great option for prime rib pairing is their combination of punchy acidity and grippy tannin. Even with fewer tannic bottles of Barbaresco, the acidity works to break down the meat while bringing out new tasting notes.
Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Barbaresco DOCG’ is considered by many sommeliers and wine experts to be the best introductory bottle for new Nebbiolo drinkers. It can often be found at under $50 and makes for an interesting pairing with heavy red meats like prime rib.
Giacomo Conterno Monfortino has been called the best bottle of Nebbiolo in the entire world, and it draws some of the highest price tags in the entire Piedmont region. It has received extremely high marks from some of the most important wine critics in the business.
The thick-skinned red Tempranillo grape is used to make some of the most important and famous wines in all of Spain. It is particularly well adapted for cultivation in warm weather growing areas and takes on refined and complex tasting notes when oak aged.
This is the primary grape used in the famous Spanish Rioja blend, which has gained popularity all over the world and can be purchased at most major retailers. While Rioja wines make for suitable pairings for prime rib dishes, single varietal bottles of Tempranillo are ideal.
The majority of the most famous single varietal bottles of Tempranillo hail from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain, where price tags can reach over $1000 per bottle. The region of Toro also produces high-quality Tempranillo and is quickly gaining worldwide acclaim.
Dominio de Pingus ‘Pingus’ is one of the most famous and expensive bottles of Tempranillo in the entire world and makes for a phenomenal wine pairing with upscale prime rib entrees. It is available on the wine lists of some of the best restaurants in the entire world.
Vega Sicilia ‘Pintia’ is quickly gaining acclaim as one of the meat representations of Tempranillo to come out of the Toro region of Spain. It is much more affordable than Pingus, and can usually be acquired for around $60 per bottle. Its grippy tannins make for a fantastic prime rib pairing.