Beef stew is one of the heartiest and homeliest winter dishes. Rich and delicious it’s one of our favorite meals. The combination of tender meat, earthy vegetables, and fresh herbs in a thick and tasty gravy is what comfort food is all about.
It used to be that American beef stews were almost universally made with water and onions. Later versions evolved with beef broth and/or tomato sauce. Nowadays, it’s increasingly common to follow the lead of the French with their boeuf bourguignon, the big difference is the big and loud presence of red wine. After all, what can be better than beef chuck slowly simmering in a rich red wine with vegetables, until it’s fork-tender and will melt in your mouth.
|1. Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge 2017
|2. Jelly Jar Red Blend 2015
|3. Bread & Butter Pinot Noir 2018
|4. True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
|5. Altos Las Hormigas Gualtallary Malbec 2017
|6. Norton Privada 2016
Boeuf Bourguignon is typically made with a red Burgundy such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. It doesn’t have to be of course, with an Argentinian Malbec also a good option, after all, they sure know and appreciate their beef in Argentina. Also, a blend of the above would be suitable, and perhaps even, more fun.
For sure, you want a red wine for its dark fruit and with enough tannins to counter the rich and tender stewed beef. And of course, never forget the golden rule of cooking with wine; never use a wine you wouldn’t want to drink. Then making stews is as good an excuse as any to break out a full-bodied red wine.
Our Best Red Wine For Beef Stew Reviews and Comparisons
1. Jelly Jar Red Blend 2015
Jelly Jar Red Blend takes its name from the jelly jars in which early Italian immigrants to California would bottle their table wines.
This Californian Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & other red grapes, has the required full-body for use in a beef stew. Subsequent vintages have won numerous gold and silver awards at prestigious international wine competitions.
- Variety: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Assorted Reds
- Appellation: Lake County, Napa Valley, California
- Winery: Jelly Jar
- Alcohol: 14.6%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Jelly Jar Red Blend 2015
Lilac and violet provide the surprising aromatic beginning for the dark Burgundy color, before the more expected all jammy red fruit of blackberry, plum, and cherry seduces the palate.
Jelly Jar Red Blend 2015 is a smooth blend of enough dark fruit and tannins to complement the richness of the beef. When drinking after, or while making, hold in your mouth long enough to be rewarded with the long dry finish of fig, chocolate, cinnamon, and tobacco.
What We Don’t Like About Jelly Jar Red Blend 2015
Prepare ahead, as to unlock the complexity and enjoy this blend to the full, you should open it the day before.
Otherwise, with high alcohol and probably too much tobacco for many, it lacks a bit of smoothness with edges that are a little rough
- Dark and fruity, it won’t be overwhelmed by the beef
- Firm tannins
- Nice red blend for cooking and the table table
- Needs time to open up
- Not as smooth as expected
It’s all about the different growing environments that give the grapes, sourced from multiple vineyards, the character that makes them well-suited for the sauce base of a beef stew.
Two cooler growing regions at the tip of San Pablo Bay on the California coast, provide the fog and a long growing season for grapes of bright fresh, crisp flavors, and bright acids.
While in Arroyo Seco, located in Monterey County in the center of the state, breezes from the area are countered by enough warm days, for grapes rich in sugars and finely-tuned acids.
Blend grapes from these two regions and the result is Bread & Butter Pinot Noir 2018 that won gold at both the California State Fair, and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America wine tasting competitions.
- Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
- Appellation: Carneros and Arroyo Seco, California
- Winery: Bread & Butter
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Bread & Butter Pinot Noir 2018
The natural aromas and flavors of bread and butter that develop during winemaking, is where the winery takes its name.
Aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, cassis, and vanilla give way to smoky and earthy flavors of cured meats, most notably bacon. Maybe it’s not surprising then, how good it is for cooking with beef.
Oak aging provides balance and complexity, thanks to the hints of cedar and leather.
What We Don’t Like About Bread & Butter Pinot Noir 2018
The initial mouthfeel is a little underwhelming for a less delicate Pinot than you might be used to. But that, and oak flavors stronger than we prefer for drinking make it better for beef stew.
- A good balance of sweet and the sour
- A hearty Pinot
- Interesting and surprising flavors
- You better like oak
- Lacks complexity
3. True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
The Paso Robles AVA where this Cab hails from has very different geography to that of the previous Californian wine. Here, it’s the hills and canyons of and off the Salinas River that characterize the grapes of this Cab, rather than the Pacific Ocean six miles away.
True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is rich, fruity, full-bodied, and smooth. It pairs wonderfully with grilled steaks, hamburgers, lamb, and smokey BBQ meats. But also with meatballs and braised meats, so it’s not a surprise that it will be just right for beef stew.
- Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
- Appellation: Paso Robles, California
- Winery: True Myth
- Alcohol: 14.2%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
We Like About True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Elegant aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cherry, cassis, dark chocolate, and a twist of pepper. Long and lingering flavors of blackcurrant, strawberry, coffee, cedar spice, and caramelized oak. True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 captures the warmth of Paso Robles in a bottle.
Rich, smooth, and very accessible now, although it will continue to evolve nicely for years to come. Approachable and well-priced, so perfect for drinking and cooking.
What We Don’t Like About True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Too acidic and peppery? We were divided in our office. Try it for yourself and see what you think.
- A rich aroma
- Hints of black fruit and flowers and other pleasant things
- Fantastic finish
- Better South American Cabs at this price
- A bit thin and tart
4. Altos Las Hormigas Gualtallary Malbec 2017
As we wrote before, Argentinians know their meat, and this Malbec from Mendoza works beautifully with many beef dishes, your stew being no exception.
After some ups and downs in past vintages, Altos Las Hormigas came through in 2016 with their Malbec. That might have something to do with their renting in the diverse Gualtallary appellation, with their 2017 also sharing, if not bettering, the rewards.
- Variety: 100% Malbec
- Appellation: Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
- Winery: Altos Las Hormigas
- Alcohol: 14%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Altos Las Hormigas Gualtallary Malbec 2017
While the nose is expressive of the wilderness of the Gualtallary, but with unexpected elegance and freshness, the palate is sparser and more serious. Dry, minerally, and even chalky, but not too much to mask the dark berries and spices.
It manages to be structured yet still quite wild for a Malbec, with firm tannins lending the mouth-feel freshness and balance, before a long and tasty finish with hints of violets.
What We Don’t Like About Altos Las Hormigas Gualtallary Malbec 2017
If you like a fruitier, rather than minerally Malbec, then this one’s not for you.
- Notes of spices and minerality make a complex nose
- Altos Las Hormigas’ best Gualtallary yet
- A bit monotonous and flat
5. Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge 2017
This is from one of the best producers in Burgundy. Established in 1865, Domaine Camille Giroud is legendary. Their famed cellar holds vintages that are desired by sommeliers the world over.
As a Regional Appellation, Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge 2017 takes advantage of being able to be made out of a blend of Pinot Noir grapes from several vineyards. This means that they can carefully select from the best harvests from within the recognized appellation area.
That the appellation is where boeuf bourguignon also comes from, is enough to tell you that it’s more than good for beef stew.
- Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
- Appellation: Burgundy, France
- Winery: Camille Giroud
- Alcohol: 13%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge 2017
Aged for 12 months in barrels, before being blended in stainless steel tanks after racking this is a silky and finely aromatic Bourgogne Rouge.
Punchy with the aromas and flavors of juicy strawberry, raspberry, and red cherry. Cedar and sandalwoods, baking spice, and wet rocks provide the mineral earthiness.
With its silky long finish, it’s rated among the top 4% of all wines in the world.
What We Don’t Like About Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge 2017
It’s smooth and light, but perhaps it’s a tad too thin with it? Some may feel that there’s just not quite enough happening.
- Lovely Burgundy
- Smooth and an easy drinker
- Makes you hungry for meat
- Might need another year or two
- Where’s the beef?!
6. Norton Privada 2016
Dark ruby in color, with hints of smoke among the dark berry flavors; meet the very likable and luscious Argentine red blend that is the Bodega Norton Privada 2016.
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous gave a rating of 93+ points to this ambitious Bordeaux-style blend of Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lamb, game, steak, and braised beef are all great choices with it. Be sure not to miss out, as that rating, this is unbelievable value for the price.
- Variety: 40% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
- Appellation: Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
- Winery: Bodega Norton
- Alcohol: 13.7%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Norton Privada 2016
A deep and rich blend with deep aromas of blackberry, cassis, licorice, and dark chocolate. Lightened just at the end by violet. Dry and flavorful black fruits and dark chocolate flavors are smooth and elegant.
Despite the youthfulness, it already has a sophisticated texture, with a good balance of ripe fruitiness and chalky minerality. The integration of its three blends by the refined tannins and note of salty minerality, give it a strong and lingering finish.
The name ‘Privada’ refers to the owning family’s private reserve, which they originally only enjoyed with their closest friends. Luckily for us, they’re now happy to share it with a wider audience.
What We Don’t Like About Norton Privada 2016
Its strengths might also be its ‘weakness’ if you can call it that. This youthful blend is already juicy and penetrating enough for drinking now. But when you do, you can’t help thinking that with more time in the bottle to expand, it will be even better,
- A deliciously rich chocolaty aroma
- Subtle wood, chalky intensity, and layers of dark berry fruit and herbal licorice
- Dense, savory, and serious
- A little harsh and not smooth enough
- Still a bit too young perhaps?
Beef stew is a real winter favorite. The rich combination of tender meat, hearty vegetables, and earthy herbs, makes for a homely and comforting meal.
What can make it even better, is the right red wine for the sauce. As well as for drinking after of course! For that, you need a wine of enough dark fruit and firm tannins. Otherwise, it will be lost in the richness and flavors of the braised beef and other ingredients.
With all that in mind, and after having the good fortune and pleasure to taste so many excellent full-bodied reds, we believe the best red wine for a beef stew to be Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge 2017.
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