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Beef & Wine

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The marriage of beef and wine used to be as easy as steak and something rich and red. While that idea remains a favorite classic, today’s menus offer a brave new world of possibilities— and today’s beef might mean anything from Thai steak salad to fajitas or Tuscan braised short ribs. As for wine, thousands of brands are now available in the United States. At no other time in history have the possibilities of pairing beef and wine been so thrilling, so delicious, so limitless. So how can you make sense of all the options?

The truth is, there are no rigid rules.

Extraordinary flavor affinities do exist, but they are not the predictable result of scientific principles. Rather, great matches are born from instinct, imagination, and a lot of fun experimentation. And when they happen, “wow” moments of beef and wine are like sensory fireworks. From a taste perspective, they’re the equivalent of 1 + 1 = 3.

One thing is certain. Beef and wine share more than just flavor affinities. They’re both about experience. More than most foods and most beverages, beef and wine are sensual and deeply rooted in pleasure and satisfaction. That adds up to a simple, powerful strategy for building check averages: sell more beef, sell more wine. It’s a synergy that can give a boost to two of the highest-ticket items on your menu. And the more you know about pairing, the better it works.

Feature one or two wine recommendations on the menu, adjacent to beef menu items; consider one that’s by the glass and one by the bottle.

  • Conduct waitstaff tastings of great beef and wine pairings; the more your staff enjoys a pairing, the more likely they will be to sell it.
  • Train staff to get in the habit of suggesting by the glass offerings with beef dishes, and provide plenty of descriptive language for them to bring the pairing to life: “We’ve got a really juicy, soft zinfandel that’ll be perfect with that, for $X a glass.”
  • Offer a taste of a by the glass wine when you bring the beef dish to the table. Tasting the wine with the beef dish is worth a thousand words and will likely lead to a sale.
  • Offer wine four small servings of wineso guests can experience the
interplay of several wine flavors with their beef dish.
  • Pair two different wines with two
different beef cuts and offer as a small plate with wines to match.
  • Invite winemakers to participate in special winemaker dinners focused on wine and beef dishes.
  • Invest in supplemental education for your beverage manager so that he or she is well informed, can keep up with trends and
is able to train staff to be comfortable suggesting beef and wine pairings.

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