Prime rib wine pairing

Published December 23rd, 2022

Prime rib is a cut of meat usually oven-roasted, pan-seared, grilled, or smoked, cooked on the bone, and often served with a simple sauce made from its natural juices.

Prime rib wine pairing.

It is a perfect first-quality cut of meat, tender and tasty, and great for family lunches, that should be served medium-rare or rare.

One of the main factors for defining meat as prime is the age of the animal. To be considered top quality, beef cattle must be between 9 and 30 months old, as younger animals provide more tender meat. Because the muscles in this part of the cow aren't used much, the meat is tender and juicy. Intramuscular fat is a source of flavor and moisture in the meat, so choosing well-marbled meat is crucial.

Prime rib lends itself to various types of preparation and various condiments, which can alter the overall taste of the dish. So in this article, we will see the fundamental characteristics of this cut of meat and the possible variations and we will try to guide you in choosing the most delicious prime rib wine pairing.

Prime rib wine pairing: the basics

The easiest way to pick a wine that goes with prime rib is to think about matching the intensity of the flavors. Prime rib has a good amount of fat  that is what gives it a more decisive flavor and the generous marbling of this cut, therefore, helps to create a rich and tasty piece of meat. The bone also adds flavor and, by building up heat, makes the meat easier to roast.

This is a dish where flavors and succulence are key, so you need to choose a wine that complements the meat and cleanses the palate. Generally speaking, white wines are not very suitable for pairing with prime rib, because their flavors are too delicate for this cut.

A full-bodied and bold red is the best wine to pair with prime rib. Firm tannins will be able to cut through the fat, while the intense aromas and the well-structured body will be able to harmonize the juicy consistency and the strong flavor of the meat, and also any smoking hints.

The best wine to serve with prime rib will be one with a strong character such as Barbaresco, or with peppery tones such as Syrah, or with a high alcohol content such as Zinfandel.

Best wine for prime rib - Cabernet Sauvignon.

Best wine for prime rib

The best red wine for prime rib is, above all, a matter of taste. But obviously, there are criteria to follow. The wine must have firm tannins and a good body. Our favorite one is the Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra in Australia which has just the right youthful and powerful character for prime rib.

Our suggestion: Yalumba The Cigar Cabernet Sauvignon

Best red wine with prime rib

Prime rib is a succulent dish that goes mainly with structured red wines with firm tannins. This cut of meat has a flavor that is enhanced by wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbaresco or Barolo, Syrah, or Tempranillo. Here is a selection of red wines for the best wine prime rib pairing and a delicious gastronomic experience.


Barbaresco is a wine made from Nebbiolo grapes, known for being full-bodied but characterized by a grace and delicacy that make it less austere than Barolo and, therefore, much easier to combine with food. This wine is able to release surprisingly rich aromas of fruit and spices.

The most characteristic notes are those of red fruits, green pepper, nutmeg, hazelnut, and anise. Aging in wood can introduce a further mix of tertiary aromas that make the wine even more captivating. On the palate, Barbaresco is persistent but elegant, warm, and soft, ending in a harmonious and well-structured finish.

Prime rib finds a perfect ally in Barbaresco. The firm but elegant tannins of the wine will cleanse the palate of the fatness of the meat creating the right balance of flavors and intensity. Barbaresco wine pairing with prime rib roast will always be an absolute success.

Our suggestion: Barbaresco Faset DOCG, Michele Chiarlo

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful and exuberant red grape that produces wines with a strong identity. It is one of the vines of the Bordeaux blend but it is also easily vinified alone, especially in areas with a warm climate.

Cabernet Sauvignon wines have vegetal and fruity scents of small red fruits and herbaceous notes. Powerful in structure, these wines with a high polyphenolic concentration show vigorous tannins with a bony and austere texture, which goes perfectly with the fatty portion and structured texture of prime rib and guarantees good longevity to the wine.

Thanks to its tenacious but also round structure, Cabernet Sauvignon is the best wine with prime rib roast.

Our suggestion: Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Best red wine with prime rib.


Syrah/Shiraz is an international grape variety, among the ten most cultivated varieties in the world, localized at completely different latitudes, such as Provençal France, Australia, or Sicily.

In general, Syrah wines are endowed with great versatility for food pairings, which are declined differently according to their origin and level of refinement, while maintaining a common characteristic: a natural affinity for strong flavors and spices.

If French wines take on a more "elegant" style with rounder and less tannic flavors, in Australia Shiraz instead becomes more dense, full-bodied, and concentrated, with slight acidity and spicy and smoky nuances.

These characteristics make it the best wine to go with prime rib, especially if smoked.

Our suggestion: John Duval Entity Shiraz


Tempranillo is a grape of Spanish origin, now spread in many other countries. Like other vines we have talked about, Tempranillo adapts to the terroir of the place where it grows, creating wines with different characteristics. On the palate, however, it always has good acidity, an important structure, and vigorous tannins.

In Rioja, for example, where it is often blended with Garnacha, Tempranillo produces wines with a great aromatic charge but a more subtle, less concentrated, and muscular body than in other areas. In the Ribera del Duero, Tempranillo wines are powerful, and dense, with a spicy and ripe fruit profile. While in the Toro region, due to the high temperatures, the wines are very alcoholic, and rich but tend to be less fresh.

Thanks to these characteristics, Tempranillo is therefore a wine that pairs with prime rib deliciously, especially when it comes from the Ribera del Duero, where the structure and intensity of flavors are well balanced by good acidity and this allows it to accompany the meat in a perfect pairing.

Our suggestion: Pesquera Ribera del Duero Tinto


A native Croatian grape then emigrated to Puglia, where it is known as Primitivo di Manduria, Zinfandel is considered an American variety, thanks to the exceptional Californian wines that it can produce and that show its true potential and complexity.

From dry, powerfully bold reds to light rosés and even sweet wines, Zinfandel is perhaps the only red grape that manages to change its character and characteristics even when vinified alone.

In its red versions, Zinfandel is a soft, concentrated, sumptuous wine with intense aromas of red fruit. The tannins are important but velvety. It is therefore immediately clear that it is a good wine with prime rib as it is capable of balancing and enhancing the flavors of the meat, keeping its personality intact.

Our suggestion: Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel

Best white wine with prime rib

As previously mentioned, prime rib usually does not go well with white wine. This is because the lightness of the aromas and structure of the white wine could be overwhelmed by the intensity of flavors of this cut of meat.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule worth considering. If you want to opt for white wine, an oaked Chardonnay or an aged German Riesling can be the right option especially in case of leftovers served in a sandwich with horseradish sauce.


Riesling is an extraordinary grape variety capable of making wines of exceptional longevity and surprising qualities. It is therefore not surprising that it is one of the very few options among white wines to be considered for a rib roast wine pairing.

However, it is necessary to know how to carefully choose the right Riesling in this case and consider the most suitable match.

First, Riesling is the best wine to go with prime rib when this is used in sandwiches and with horseradish sauce or rocket salad. Furthermore, it is advisable to choose a wine that has a structure and complexity that can balance the flavor and texture of the meat without being overwhelmed. Better to opt for a German wine that is a few years old.

Our suggestion: Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Alte Reben Riesling Grosses Gewachs Reserve


Creating a delicious prime rib wine pairing certainly isn't difficult. The evaluation criteria are the classics: you need to harmonize the intensity of the flavors and opt for a wine that has the right structure and enough tannins to cleanse the palate.

We have provided you with a wide choice of options; now it's your turn to choose your favorite bottle and enjoy.