Brazilian steakhouse restaurants are hot, especially the rodizio-style service of all-you-can-eat grilled meats. What wine to pair with such a protein-heavy feast? Hanah Rizzardo, manager of the beverage program at the authentic Brazilian steakhouse brand Galpao Gaucho, has some suggestions.
Galpao Gaucho, with three locations in California (Napa, Walnut Creek and Cupertino), as well as one in Las Vegas, boasts a unique rodizio menu with 17 different cuts of meat. Rizzardo makes guests’ dining journey enjoyable by thoughtfully pairing the best wine to go with each course. Here are her tips for a wine experience inspired by Gaucho culture and the dining tradition of the Brazilian cowboy.
For the appetizer and salad bar course, Rizzardo recommends a white wine, sparkling wine or pinot noir. Because Galpao Gaucho offers plenty of cheese options and creamy salad dressings, “a glass of either white wine or sparkling wine pairs wonderfully with our Brazilian cheese bread, and all of the bright fresh vegetables and charcuterie options on our salad bar course,” she says.
In general, Rizzardo adds, “I love to recommend a glass of Champagne from France for our first course.” Most people think of Champagnes at the end of the meal, but these sparklers tend to have more acidity and subdued fruit characteristics typical of Old World wines.
“So unless you are having a cheese plate for dessert or having a special toast at the end of the meal, I believe there are better options for a sweet dessert than a glass of Champagne,” she notes. “For these reasons, Champagne is an excellent pairing for the first course.”
Not a big fan of sparkling wines or whites? Choose a pinot noir instead. “In terms of red wine, pinot noir has more acidity, lower tannins and brighter red fruit notes,” Rizzardo says, “so it will still complement the first course nicely without overwhelming the palate.”
For the meat course, you need a big wine to pair up against the rich, marbled meats — something to really cut through the fat and not get overwhelmed with all the flavors. Rizzardo says that a California cabernet sauvignon is a perfect match because of the big, bold tannins and ripe fruit notes.
“If you want a red wine that’s not so full bodied, I would recommend a South American malbec, which will still give you ripe rich fruit but with lower tannins — this is a softer red wine that is a crowd-pleaser,” she notes. “Both of these wines have the tannins and structure needed in a wine to complement the juicy cuts of meat, especially the fattier, more heavily marbled cuts such as our beef ribs or ribeye.”
For those that prefer a stronger dessert wine, Rizzardo says that a port wine will pair perfectly with desserts such as Galpao Gaucho’s rich, chocolate molten cake. “If you prefer a sweet vanilla dessert, a late harvest or ice wine will have the sweetness needed to pair well with our traditional Brazilian pudim (flan),” or a classic sweet custard dessert option like our creme brulee.”
Melissa Dowling is editor of Cheers magazine, our on-premise sister publication. Contact her at email@example.com, and read her recent piece, The Top Tequila Trends in 2023.