Pork has, unfortunately, come to truly embody its nickname as “the other white meat”. Lean and easy to cook dry as a bone, it cries out for something to rescue it. That something could easily be a wine. Pair a good wine with a good cut and a good sauce and you can be in pork heaven.
Like every critter human beings regularly select for their dinner plates, pork has a number of cuts from which to choose. Some of these can be as lean—and dry—as boneless skinless chicken breast while others contain more fat for taste and bone for moisture. Many cuts of pork can pair well with a variety of wines. Charcuterie, the name for a wide variety of cold cuts and preserved meats, pair well with the light Beaujolais as well as sweet wines such as Sauternes. A ham, cut from the rump or leg, can adapt to a Riesling or a Merlot. Spare ribs, with their fat and the moisture from their bones, may benefit from a more acidic wine to cut through the fat and cleanse the palate.
Tenderloin, once again, can be served with many wines: these tend to be somewhat lighter, with fruity and spicy notes. Pork chops, with their bone to provide moisture, take heavier white wines very well, and many red wines, too. As with the white wines, choose full-bodied red wines.
Thanks to health trends over the past few decades, most of the fat has been bred out of the average American pig. While cardiologists may hail this as an achievement, it is a stumbling block and irritation to many a cook. So now the trick for maintaining moisture in lean meat comes into play: the sauce.
If you’ve selected a lighter and thinner sauce, lighten your wine choice. Perhaps pull back to a Pinot Noir from a heavier Merlot. If you have chosen to toss your pork with a tomato based barbecue sauce, think about a Chianti, one of the traditional wines for tomato sauces. Or if you have served your pork heavily spiced, think about a sweeter wine for the contrast.
If you have served sauce with another element of the meal, take that into account. The traditional accompaniments to barbecue, even that with minimal or no sauce added to it by personal preference, contribute sauces which must be addressed. Coleslaw with its mayonnaise and baked beans with its tomato sauce add another layer of consideration. Perfectly matching the pork does nothing if the choice is a disaster with other elements.
Pork, particularly a simply cooked cut, is a food which nearly begs for something to transform it into something great. Its own transformation from succulent meat into lean protein has it craving elevation on the plate. Do your dinner justice and pour yourself a great glass of wine. It may be a lighter wine than the past due to the lighter flavor of the pork, but the pairing you choose will be no less delicious.
|Food||Wine (Best Pairing Listed First)|
|Barbequed pork spareribs||Riesling, White Zinfandel|
|Pork chops||Chardonnay, Merlot|
|Pork chops, smoked||Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel|
|Pork tenderloin||Dolcetto, Pinot Noir|
|Roast pork||Beaujolais, Pinot Noir|
|Sausage, mild||Gamay, Valpolicella|
|Sausage, spicy||Riesling, Rioja|
|Asian Dishes – Spicy and Strong||Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Rioja|