It's a Parisian bistro classic, isn't it? Steak, chips, béarnaise, watercress and a glass of "claret" - that wonderfully old-school name given by the Brits to the red wines of Bordeaux. It works with this dish because the firm, elegant, mouth-drying tannins of the cabernet and merlot grapes used to make red wines from Bordeaux are softened by the protein of the steak, and the herbal lift of tarragon in the sauce matches the cedary, aromatic quality of the wine. Although there are some brilliant clarets around, there are also some wonderful Australian cabernet merlots that might make an even better match, thanks to the extra weight of blackcurrant, mulberry and plum fruit. Look for cab merlots from the very good 2006 vintage in the eastern states, and from the superlative 2007 vintage in Western Australia.
Beef up a classic French steak with a bottle of Aussie cab merlot. It’s the perfect balance of beauty and brawn.