Wine Pairing: Zinfandel and Skillet-Seared Steak

Welcome, fellow oenophiles!

This is the Ultra Wine Racks blog, where we showcase our latest products and bring you profiles of great wineries, wine and food pairings, and the latest wine news. We did our last wine and food pairing three weeks ago (pinot grigio and pasta with tomato and basil sauce). Today we decided to do a classic pairing. It’s red wine and steak, but not the red wine you’re probably thinking. Today we’ll be pairing steak with zinfandel. Let’s get started!



There are many different ways to cook steak. Many people like it grilled. Others sear steaks in a skillet. Some steak recipes are complicated, others are simple. We at Ultra Wine Racks like to keep things as simple as possible. This recipe requires nothing but butter, garlic, and fresh thyme.


  • 2 (12-ounce) ribeye or New York strip steaks
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper (fresh-ground)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)



First, you have to let the steaks rest. Pull them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you start cooking and let them warm up to room temperature. Make sure the pan is hot, too: heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until it just starts to smoke. Dry both sides of the steaks by patting them with paper towels. Then, rub the salt and the pepper into both sides of the steaks.

Now we’re ready to begin cooking. Put the steaks in the pan. Cook them until they’re just brown on the bottom, about three minutes. Flip the steaks with a spatula and cook them three minutes longer. Turn the heat down to medium-low and throw in the thyme, garlic, and butter. Tilt the pan (using a hot pad so you don’t burn yourself). Using a spoon, baste the steaks with the melted butter for another minute, or until the steaks reach the desired doneness. Put the steaks on a plate and let them rest five minutes before serving.

View full recipe here: https://www.cookingclassy.com/pan-seared-steak-with-garlic-butter/



Zinfandel is a uniquely Californian wine. Although it probably originated in Croatia, it came to California in the mid-19th century during the Gold Rush. Zinfandel plantings in California exploded, and by the turn of the century it was the most-planted winegrape in the state. Many “old-vine” zinfandel grapevines still exist in California today, from plantings that are over a hundred years old.

Zinfandel comes in many varieties: light-bodied, full-bodied, “port-like,” and even a white zinfandel similar to a rosé. The high sugar content in zinfandel grapes makes them quite alcoholic. White zinfandels can be up to 15% alcohol.

ozv old vine zinfandel red wine lodi california steak pairing food ultra

One normally pairs steak with bold red wines like cabernet sauvignon. However, we’ve chosen OZV Old Vine Zinfandel by Oak Ridge Winery of Lodi, California. The Lodi appellation is famous for its zinfandels, and at international wine competitions, it is often asked for by name. Touting itself as “the hallmark of Lodi zinfandel,” OZV is 13.8% alcohol, with medium acidity and soft tannins. Oak Ridge Winery states that the wine has aromas and flavors of blackberry and raspberry…and pairs well with steak.



Generally, in order to compete with the hearty flavors and fats of a juicy steak, you require a bold red such as cabernet sauvignon or merlot. But there’s another strategy you can use. Zinfandel works particularly well for ribeye steaks thanks to its fruitiness. The fruit-forward nature of many zins complements the savoriness of beef and other meats. The medium acidity helps to cleanse the palate after each bite, readying you for the next delicious mouthful.

We believe that OZV Old Vine Zinfandel pairs best with a New York steak. This cut of steak has very rich, beefy flavor. You need some dark fruitiness to cut through that meatiness. OZV’s flavors of blackberry and raspberry are just what the sommelier ordered. The soft tannins sweep the decks, counteracting the richness of the fat in New York steaks. A simply seasoned steak like this one (thyme, garlic, black pepper) is just perfect to pair with a fruity red like old-vine zinfandel.

But don’t take our word for it! If you’ve paired zinfandel with steak and have any suggestions to make, let us know in the comments section. There’ll be another delectable wine-food pairing headed your way in three weeks’ time. Don’t forget to check out our website for wine displays and racking solutions.

Happy sipping!


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