3 Cuts Of Steak, Why They Are Special, And What To Drink With Them

Steak is great. If you are a meat lover and have the means to pay a steakhouse to professionally prepare it, there are few proteins in the culinary world that can offer such variety and potential pleasure for your night out. Read on to learn about three of the most popular cuts of steak, where they are located on the cow, and what wine goes best with them.  


Ah, the famous rib-eye steak. This cut has come into recent popularity, as the culture of steak eating has increased and expanded to include more than simply "manly-men".

  • What Part of the CowThe rib-eye is so named because of it's location near the fore-ribs on the cow. The typical cut will exclude any of those ribs or other bones, and will also do away with any fat-rind on the exterior of the cut.
  • What Makes it So Good: The rib-eye's popularity comes in large part to the high degree of veins of fat running through it. This fat will melt and be absorbed during the cooking process, infusing the steak with an incredible amount of flavor. 
  • What Wine is Best: Experts suggest a wine that has a strong presence of fruity overtones, to compliment the generous amount of fat found in the rib-eye. Try a cabernet sauvignon from California, or a shiraz from Australia; these fruit heavy wines will pair perfectly with a marbled rib-eye. 

Sirloin (or Strip)

Sirloin steaks come in a number of different styles of "cut" (top sirloin, New York strip, etc.) but are generally regarded as one of the healthier cuts of steak, as these steaks typically have less fat than other steaks. The fat it does have is easily removed, as the sirloin steaks rarely have much marbling, but usually are found with layered fat that can be easily trimmed. 

  • What Part of the Cow: The sirloin is found closer inside the cow than the rib-eye, but not quite so far as the filet.  
  • What Makes it So Good: While not as tender or as flavorful as other cuts, the biggest advantage the sirloin steak has over its competition (besides being the best option for the health-consious) is it's price. Almost always cheaper than other cuts, the sirloin still maintains a good level of flavor, giving you great bang for your buck. 
  • What Wine is Best: Because the sirloin will be a little less on flavor, and certainly low on fat, the wine you choose can be used to help bolster the steaks flavor by drinking something strong. A quality merlot or a even a strong zinfandel will typically compliment this steak the best, as they are both made from rich, dark fruits like plums and black berries. 

Filet Mignon (or Tenderloin)

The filet mignon is often hailed as the most tender of steak cuts, which is also part of the reason the filet will typically be the most expensive steak on the menu. 

  • What Part of the Cow: The filet is found behind the sirloin, in an area of the cow that isn't often utilized as a muscle, giving it it's unique tenderness.  
  • What Makes it So Good: A major part of the filet's popularity is it's tenderness: the steak, when properly prepared, will melt in your mouth. However, many critics argue that it's popularity is inflated, insisting that the cut, which has little marbling or fat, has equally little flavor.
  • What Wine is Best: Most reds will compliment a filet nicely. A good merlot, or a pinot noir will typically do the trick.