Fillet Steak and Champagne
18th May 2020
A popular choice, and usually the most expensive, at restaurants and especially for meat / beef lovers is the fillet steak. The tender cut that is taken from inside the sirloin and holding very little fat, be it grilled, pan fried, barbecued or more, this dish can be rare to well done, offering a wonderful savoury tasting experience.
History of Fillet Steak
The word Fillet derives from the french term “filet” — which translates literally to “thick slice”. As this suggests, fillet steaks are traditionally cut into relatively thicker slices as, unlike other steaks, their surface area is by nature limited by the small diameter of the round tenderloin. Each cow carcass typically delivers about 2kg of fillet steak which, alongside its unique tenderness and texture, makes it the most expensive steak! Source: BuyaCow.co.uk
The are plenty of ways to prepare and serve fillet steak with preferred options being peppered, with garlic and herbs as well as sources such a BBQ and blue cheese. Usually the meat will require an accompanying ingredient or two as the fillet is the muscle that doesn’t get much usage thus it being tender. It is the usually priced the most of all cuts of steak as there will only be around an average of 2kg of fillet per animal. Fillet steaks are traditionally cut a bit thicker than other steaks, about 4cm or 1.5 inches.
Though traditionally many would have opted for a red wine to pair with steak, there is a lean towards sparkling wines and especially bolder traditional method wines such as Champagne, Franciacorta and Trentodoc. The likes of Argentinian Malbec and Burgundy Pinot Noirs have all been highlighted as the perfect wine partner for steak, today we see more restaurants and sommeliers across the world having the boldness to suggest a glass of bubbly to run alongside your selected beef cut.
“Chefs and wine experts… say we should drink Champagne with red meat!” Source: Metro.co.uk
There are of course many styles of traditional method sparkling wines and even if we narrow the field to just Champagne, we still have plenty of aroma and flavour choice to pair with our steak dinner.
The best wine to pair with Fillet Steak is Champagne?
I have tried fillet steak on many occasions and served in a variety of different ways, for me I prefer it well done and ideally pan fried with olive oil, a touch of fresh garlic clove and some herbs. I also usually add a touch of gravy granules in order to add that touch of savoury enhancement. A slice of blue cheese will be on the side with some oven cooked vegetables and freshly made potato purée.
With this serving suggestion I agree that the best wine for steak is Champagne. The crisp and refreshing flavours along with the ability to cleanse the palate yet enable the detailed flavours of the dish remain tells me that a fine cut of fillet steak deserves a fine bottle of Champagne.
So, what style of Champagne?
Ideally not too sweet and certainly not a Demi-Sec, you do not really want a Pinot Noir / Rosé either. A perfect choice would be either a fine vintage or a Blanc de Blancs NV of Premier or Grand Cru status. The punchy floral and yellow fruits character along with brioche / butter croisaant / oaky flavours are perfectly suited to pair with fillet steak.
Champagne Autréau Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV – Tasting notes: “Light toffee, golden fruits / tropical, white blossom and sweet citrus in aromas. Fruity flavours. A crisp yet relaxed dryness initially followed by zesty yellow fruits, lemon zest, brioche with a mouthwatering citrus ending. Everything here is so well balanced, the aromas and flavours are presented delicately with fine characters. Excellent for food pairings, gastronomic delights such as fillet steak, dry cheese, fresh fish.”
Pairing Champagne Autréau Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV with Fillet Steak – Tasting notes: “A soft, dry citrus burst initially turning into palate cleansing golden citrus, honey and apricot to then allow the fillet steak to show in the length with herbs appearing at the close. The Champagne adds a sweetness to the accompanying baked vegetables. The Champagne lightens the dish which for me, would become slightly heavier had red wine been chosen.“
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.