I'm serving filets mignon with goat cheese and balsamic reduction to guests who don't drink alcohol. I'd like to serve a beverage with our meal that complements the steaks as nicely as red wine would (even if not in the same way). I'd also like it to be a sort of festive beverage. I was thinking along the lines of sparkling cider, but that will be way too light and sweet for the heavy meal.

There's a long tradition in the culinary world of pairing wines with meals or specific types of food, and the same goes for beer. What do I need to keep in mind when looking for a beverage that can hold its own against my filets? Are there any general rules for non-alcholic pairing, like there are for wine pairing, that would apply in this case?

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    This is a matter of taste and opinion which is difficult to give a factual answer on. You have enough rep to drop by Seasoned Advice Chat where the rules are more relaxed; people might have some ideas.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Feb 10, 2014 at 3:25
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    Noted, @saj. I was hoping for some guidelines for choosing these pairings in general more than specific suggestions - I'll edit to clarify, but if it's still too opiniony I'll indeed drop by chat.
    – hairboat
    Feb 10, 2014 at 3:27
  • I think we can leave it open for now and see if somebody comes up with guidelines. If it starts attracting specific suggestions only, we can still close. I am protecting as preemptive measure against new users who don't know about our "no list of opinions" rules.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:15
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    I really want this question to work. Given that well-asked subjective questions are okay, and that it's possible to pare down an overly broad poll question into something with few answers, I think it can be done, and that our site will be better if we can manage it.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 11, 2014 at 17:00
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    Good answers to this question should focus on attributes that make drinks pair well with steaks - and of course it's fine to provide examples of drinks with those attributes.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 11, 2014 at 17:04

3 Answers 3


I have had success pairing steaks with freshly pressed apple juice, as the tartness helps offset the richness and fats of the meat and cheese. An apple/raspberry mix works beautifully, too, as does apple and blackcurrant.

While ginger beer and ginger ale may work, you run the risk of the drink taking over the show, which you don't want.

Two more pairings that work well: Apple and cherry juice is beautiful. Blueberry juice (100% blueberries, with no additives) have much the same mouthfeel as a good red wine, while giving flavor notes all of its own.

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    It seems that you are trying to offer drinks for the meal mentioned in the question, as opposed to general guidelines on how to pair. If users keep understanding the question that way, we will have to close.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 11, 2014 at 14:33
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    @rumtscho I think there's some of both here. He mentions that acidity balances with the fat and richness (one guideline). He mentions the mouthfeel of blueberries (maybe tannins?). And I suspect there's something left to be said about why some fruits are good - perhaps they're flavors that are commonly in red wine that's good for steaks?
    – Cascabel
    Feb 11, 2014 at 17:03
  • @jefromi OK, let's see if the new spin you put on the question can end up as being "good subjective". Now that the question is more focused on steaks, I decided to revert my downvote.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 11, 2014 at 20:15
  • My intention was, as Jefromi notes, to both give specific suggestions as well as advice with regards to what I have found to work.
    – razumny
    Feb 11, 2014 at 20:21

As your question aims to be as broad as possible, there isn't one right answer of course, but as a general guideline: It's always good to put some of the beverage accompanying the dish, in the dish.

You could make an adapted version of a red wine sauce, based on a soft drink instead of wine/port. Let it reduce a bit, so it becomes thicker and stickier. You could read this to have some idea what I'm talking about.

I think you could also do this with fruit juices, for instance orange juice in a sauce for duck or chicken, although it is possible that the orange taste is too strong, if you serve it with OJ as a beverage.


If your guests drink non-alcoholic drinks then there are non-alcoholic wines available. A quick google search tells me Total Wine sells them. That way you can still do the normal/conventional wine/food pairing, but in a non-alcoholic version.

Another idea (based on your sparkling juice idea) would be to use soda water and juice. That way you can control the sweetness and pair the fruit to the meal (ie. berries/dark fruit to red meat, peach/light fruit to fish/chicken). You'll still get a different (unusual) drink that will also compliment the meal.

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