Best Cabernets to Pair with a Tomahawk Steak: 5 Cabernet Sauvignons That Won't Break The Bank

The big question is what are the best cabernets to pair with that tomahawk steak that won't break your bank (more than the steak already did!).

So you’ve decided to drop an obscene amount on a tomahawk steak, every hipster’s current protein du jour. They’re everywhere these days. Whatever happened to vegetarians? You’ll probably want to cut a couple of corners to make sure the meal doesn’t send you straight to Chapter 11 – those hunks of cow flesh with the caveman-bone handle can set you back between $100 and $200. But the big question is what are the best cabernets to pair with that steak that won’t break your bank (more than the steak already did!).

You want to go traditional with this meal, so only the best cabernets will do (or red Bordeaux, but it’s harder to find bargains from that rarified region). Here are five great bang-for-the-buck cabs that will stand tall next to that tomahawk.


Kunde 2013 Estate Sonoma Valley $22

Total steal that if brought to a wine snob’s house they’d give you a nod of approval. From a widely respected winemaker, this gorgeous cabernet is dark, rich, and multi-layered, and 2013 was almost as great a year for Sonoma as it was for Paso. It was aged for 19 months in small French oak barrels, which translates into a multi-layered taste profile. You’ll get a big hit of black currant, cinnamon and raspberry, and underneath it all the unmistakable backbeat of strawberry. The finish is complex memorable. (3.7 star rating on Vivino!)

Canvasback 2013 Red Mountain $36

From the people that make the iconic Duckhorn and Decoy wines come Canvasback. Washington State makes big reds, especially this hot, dry little area, and Canvasback’s cabernets is a good representative of that state’s style. They use 100 French oak in this blend of 85 percent cabernet sauvignon and 15 percent merlot. You’ll get blueberry, cherry, licorice and a little plum on the nose, then savory herbs and spices that give way to tannins that are pronounced but not overpowering. (4.0 star rating on Vivino!)

Newton 2013 Unfiltered Napa Valley $44

For the manly men. It may grow hair in various places. Wine critic guru Robert Parker gave this old-style beauty 91 points. It’s unfiltered, so those who prefer loamy, big-boned cabernets will love it. It’s a touch higher in alcohol than normal for a cabernets, which brings out the fruit. (4.3 star rating on Vivino!)

J. Lohr 2013 Hilltop Paso Robles $26

2013 and 2014 are both shaping up to be classic years for Paso Robles Bordeaux blends. This elegant wine from one of the biggest producers in California shows the usual finesse of winemaker Steve Peck. It’s a typical Paso cabernet, with a touch of merlot and petit verdot. It’s got more fruit flavors than a Napa cabernets, and softer, more elegant tannins. (4.0 star rating on Vivino!)

Peirano 2012 “Heritage Collection” Lodi $11

I know what you’re thinking – “Lodi?”. Keep your eye-rolling to a minimum. This wine is a four-star gold winner at the Orange County Fair (yeah, now what!). The grapes are from an old-vine (meaning the vines are over 30 years old) from an underrated region. It looks sexy: rich, inky and dark. The first sniff reveals raspberry and blackberry, and you get those toasty notes that many people love, too, along with white pepper and oak. Dry, but not offensively so. A world-class bargain at $11. (3.5 star rating on Vivino!)

Watch Chef Marc Forgione demonstrate how not to F*** up cooking a tomahawk steak.