Somewhere between a red meat and a white meat, pork is one of the most versatile proteins in the culinary world. A “nose-to-tail” philosophy suggests that each part of the pig can be transformed into a delicious dish.
The general rule of thumb when choosing wine to pair with pork is to look for a rich, fuller-bodied white wine or a juicy, fruit-forward red wine, which will complement the delicate sweetness that tends to characterize this meat.
As with all food, however, the specific wine style will depend on the preparation of the dish, as well as the seasonings and sauces used to flavor it. To help you select the perfect bottle of wine for your pork feast, we have put together a Wine and Pork pairing guide with some of our favorite recipes and the wines we recommend with each.
Some of the most indulgent pork recipes are created by roasting fattier pieces of the meat until the skin becomes crispy and the meat tender. For a perfect food and wine pairing, choose a dry Riesling from Alsace or Germany here, whose bright acidity and mineral touches will cut through the richness of the pork, cleansing the palate of any excess fattiness. In the red realm, choose a lighter style to pair with melt-in-your-mouth pork belly and suckling pig. We recommend a cool-climate Pinot Noir, from Sancerre or Jura.
Dishes like slow-roasted pork shoulder, which cast the spotlight on the fall-apart tender quality of this meat, can handle slightly bolder red wines, although we would still recommend avoiding any heavy, tannic reds. For slow-roasted pork dishes, choose a Sangiovese-based Tuscan wine like Chianti or a Grenache from the Rhone Valley in France. A more robust Merlot, from the Pomerol appellation of Bordeaux, for example, could also work nicely here.
The closest that pork comes to white meat is through preparations like roasted pork loin or tenderloin (pork filet mignon). These leaner cuts benefit from a short cooking time at high temperatures, seasoned with citrus and herbs like oregano, rosemary or marjoram. For this kind of pork dish, choose a white wine with bold floral and herbaceous qualities, such as a Viognier from Condrieu or a Chenin Blanc from the Loire.
Smoky and spicy with some tangy barbecue sauce or apple cider vinegar lending the tender meat a lift of acidity, pulled pork is one of the most delicious pork dishes out there. As with all smoky barbecued meats, a rosé wine will be perfect here. Choose a Grenache-based rosé from Cotes-de Provence, whose refreshing red fruit flavors will go beautifully with the bright flavors of the meat.
Sticky pork ribs slathered with barbecue sauce, the steaming, tender meat falling off the bone. Here, again, we recommend a rosé wine or fruitier red wine like a Gamay-based red wine from Beaujolais of a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. A high-acid Italian wine, like a Barbera d’Asti from Piedmont of a Schiava from Alto Adige can also work nicely here.
Crumbly, juicy pork meat in a tight, crisp casing – sausage is one of the most accessible and popular forms of pork. The right wine to pair will depend on the seasoning of the sausage. A pork sausage flavored with fennel or served with baked apples, for example, will go nicely with an aromatic white wine, like a Riesling or off-dry Gewurztraminer. Meanwhile, a savory pork sausage seasoned with black pepper will go beautifully with a Zinfandel from California or a Syrah from Hermitage in the northern Rhone Valley. In the realm of white wine, we recommend a Bordeaux dry white, which blends Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon.
The most festive of all pork dishes, a glazed ham is synonymous with celebration and is often the centerpiece of the holiday table. Recipes for this dish abound, with the glaze featuring anything from honey mustard to maple and brown sugar flavors. To match this decadent dish, we recommend a sparkling wine, the ultimate food pairing wine with enough natural acidity to balance even the richest of dishes. Choose a Champagne or rosé Champagne, which will accentuate, not overwhelm the delicate sweetness of the ham. Or, if you prefer a still wine, choose a crisp, mineral white like a Chardonnay from Chablis, which will go especially well with ham served with baked apples.
There are no clear-cut rules when it comes to pairing pork with wine. Overall, recipes that showcase the fatty, crispy tendencies of this meat tend to go well with high-acid wines, while leaner cuts will pair nicely with wines that match their seasoning. Overall, the styles that seem to go best with the wide array of pork dishes are bold, full-bodied white wines and fruity, cool-climate red wines, with versatile rosé wines and sparkling wines matching certain preparations.
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