When you think about pork, you may think about barbecues. However, you can eat it at formal dinners and at special occasions as well. Pulled pork is very popular, as is roast pork with all the trimmings. Many people think of beer as an accompaniment to pork, but wine shouldn’t be ruled out. To back this up, the High Plains Wine and Food Foundation holds an annual pork festival in Lubbock, Texas where a whole pig is roasted and is accompanied by wine produced by Mcpherson Cellars.
If you haven’t had wine with pork before, we are here to tell you about which wine goes best with different cuts of pork. Hopefully, this will make you go and try it out.
The Different Cuts of Pork
If you are a pork eater, you may have tried some of the different cuts. If you are new to pork, the list we are going to give you should help you decide on which cuts to try first.
The bottom of the pig is tougher and fattier than the top half so needs more cooking time than cuts from the top half. The cuts from the bottom half tend to be roasted and would make a lovely Sunday dinner.
Pork Shoulder: This meat is tough and fatty and fares well if it is roasted, braised or barbecued. As the fibres are softened, great flavours come out.
Picnic Shoulder: This cut isn’t widely used as a main dish. It usually makes crackling which can be a side to pork. It is crispy once smoked or braised. Many people like to have a pork roast just for the crackling.
Spare Ribs, Baby Back Ribs, and Ribs: Spare ribs are found on the front of the ribcage. They have a lot of meat on them. They are often used in Chinese cooking. Directly across the ribcage, you can find the ribs. They are fatty and have fibrous muscles. They can be cooked in a number of ways, such as barbecuing, baking, smoking, and grilling. They tend to be juicy and succulent once cooked.
Pork Loin: Pork loin is found on the back of the ribcage. It is a large piece of meat and is usually served as a roast with roast potatoes, crackling, vegetables, and applesauce. It is a very lean meat.
Ham Hock: This cut is found just above the feet of the pig and is a tough cut of meat. It is often brined and smoked and served with collard greens or in a soup.
Pork Chops: Pork chops are extremely popular. They can be grilled, fried, or roasted and can be served with mashed potatoes and fried apples. You can have them with either the bone in or the bone out.
Sirloin: This is a lean cut of meat that can be tender if cooked at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. The best way to cook it is by grilling it as you would a beef steak.
What Flavours Pair with Pork?
The way pork is prepared affects the flavour as it is a mild meat. However, you can add flavours to the meat that will give it a stronger taste. Here are some ideas we have for pairing pork with different sauces and other flavourings.
Barbecue sauce: You can add a barbecue sauce to your pork that can give either sweet, spicy, or smoky flavours. There are also some mustard-based sauces out there and with these, you can choose between different flavours. Why not try honey and dill mustard. It will give your pork a sweet, but mildly spicy flavour. Barbecue sauces match pulled pork and any type of grilled pork. They give the extra zing that is needed.
Savoury and earthy flavours: A nice mild gravy made out of different vegetables go well with pork sirloin and chops. Root vegetables are a good accompaniment to pork of any type, as are mushrooms. Why not serve your pork with garlic mushrooms cooked in a creamy sauce.
Fruit sauces: Applesauce is a common accompaniment to roast pork in the UK, but you could also try cranberry sauce. Fruit seems to pair well with pork. A sweet and sour sauce also goes well with pork.
Sweet glazes: A sweet honey glaze with pineapple pairs well with ham. You cook the ham with the glaze on it and you end up with a mildly sweet taste. Pork belly also goes well with fruit flavours, especially citrus.
Herbaceous rubs: You can rub your pork with different herbs and spices before you cook it. A mixture of sweet and hot goes well together. Try making a rub out of brown sugar, cumin, garlic, chilli powder, and paprika.
Does Wine Pair Well With Pork or Should You Just Have Beer?
The answer to this question is yes, you can drink wine with pork, although like with every type of food, certain wines pair better than others. With pork, you have to consider the cut, the way you are preparing the meat, and what flavours you are adding. You will find that different wines pair with different cuts of pork.
How Do You Decide Which is the Best Wine?
There are various factors that come into play when choosing the best wine to pair with pork. We are going to take a look at them here.
Red or white wine?
Generally, you pair white meat, fish, and shellfish with white wine, and red meat with red wine, but this is not always the case. Pork is considered to be a red meat and generally light red wines go best. However, this is not always the case and in some instances, you can drink white wine with your pork dish. None of the wine you drink with pork should be overbearing so that rules out some heavier red wines. A sparkling slightly sweet white wine like a sweet Riesling goes with some cuts of pork, while a dry white wine like Chardonnay goes with others. If you do drink white wine with pork, remember it has to be either slightly sweet or have a smooth finish.
What about the body of the wine?
It is better to choose a wine that isn’t too full-bodied as it will overpower the delicate sweetness of the pork. Light-bodied red wines, like Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, work well with pork as they won’t take away the taste of the meat. A medium-light bodied wine such as Cabernet Franc also pairs well with pork.
With white wines, however, you need a fuller-bodied wine like Chardonnay so that it stands up to the pork’s richer notes. With lean cuts, however, a light-bodied sweet sparkling wine can be served. Asti Spumante is a good choice.
Should the wine be dry?
Most pork dishes pair well with a moderately dry wine. However, if you are serving the pork with a sweet glaze or with a fruit sauce, you can choose a sweeter wine. Avoid wines that are very dry, like Sangiovese, You need a wine that is slightly sweet just like the pork is.
How acidic should the wine be?
You will want to choose a wine with bright acidity as it lets the sweetness of the pork come out. Whether you choose red or white wine, you should choose a wine with medium to high acidity.
What should the level of tannins be?
If you have a glass of wine and it gives you a dry sensation in your throat, then it has a lot of tannins. Usually, red wines have more tannins than white wine. You don’t want to have too many tannins in the bottle of wine you serve as they will overpower the pork. It is best to choose a bottle of wine with low to medium-low tannins so that you get the full taste of the meat.
What flavour notes should the wine have?
This all depends on the way you are preparing the pork and which cuts you are using.
- Pulled pork, ribs, and barbecued pork: The best flavour the wine should have is berries, be it raspberries, blackcurrants, or blueberries. A light sparkling red wine like Lambrusco would be a good match. It will bring out the sweetness of the pork. This wine works particularly well with honey-glazed ham as it is sweeter/ The wine also goes well with a barbecue sauce that is tomato-based, especially those that are slightly sweet.
- Any cut of pork served with a cream-based sauce: You don’t want to pair pork that has a creamy sauce with a fruity wine. You need to look at a medium-bodied and dry wine like Chardonnay. It is a smooth wine that will go down easily. It has a taste of oak and vanilla and has just a hint of acidity.
- Pork roast and pork with a herb and spice rub: A fruity wine is a good match, especially if the fruits are stone-based like peaches, apricots, and cherries. A hint of acidity wouldn’t go amiss and Pinot Gris fits the bill. Pork roast is often served with applesauce and this flavour mingles well with the fruity flavour of the wine. Pork roast is often cooked slowly which brings out the sweetness of the meat. A wine like Pinot Gris would complement both this sweetness and the tenderness of the meat.
- Honey-glazed ham: Honey-glazed ham is, as you can imagine, quite sweet. It needs a wine with fruity flavours to complement it. A Pinot Noir, a light-bodied red wine that has fruity flavours is the perfect match for ham. The fruity flavour of the wine enhances the sweetness of the ham.
- Pork chops with apples or other fruit: Pork is often served with applesauce or fried apples. It might even have pineapple cooked with it. For this meat, you need a high level of sweetness that can be got from apples, peaches and pears. A sweet Reisling would be perfect with your pork chops. It is sweet and slightly acidic and if you are cooking with apples, it will bring out their taste.
- Grilled pork: Pork cooked on the barbecue is very popular and it needs a wine with smokier aromas like a Grenache. This wine has berry flavours that will complement the meat. You may taste strawberry and raspberry and you might smell anise and tobacco. The meat is powerful and smokey and the wine can hold its own with the pork.
A Summary of These Rules
I think that we have shown that pork is a versatile meat. There are many different cuts and cooking preparations, not to mention flavours you can add in the form of sauces and rubs. In the same way, different wines pair with different types of pork.
Perhaps you are feeling as if it is all overwhelming as there is so much to take in. However, one thing to remember is to go for a wine with bright acidity unless the meat is served with a creamy sauce. Then you would want to go for a dry wine like Chardonnay which only has a hint of acidity. Otherwise, light-bodied red wines are a good choice. Because pork is often served with fruit sauces, it will go well with fruitier wines.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often can I eat pork?
Pork is a red meat and we are now being told to cut down on our red meat consumption as too much of it can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, and heart disease. However, it is an excellent source of iron and other vitamins which help our bodies operate at optimum capacity. If you are of normal weight, eating red meat twice a week is fine. If pork is your favourite meat, eat it cooked in two different ways from different cuts. The key is balance. If you eat pork twice a week, balance it up by having white meat and fish on other days, and try something vegetarian or vegan on one day.
Can I marinate pork with wine?
The simple answer is yes. People have been marinating pork with beer for years and recently even with coca-cola, so why not wine? In fact, it makes the meat tender and juicy and you only need two hours for the wine to seep into the meat. It is a good idea to use the same wine as you will be drinking with the dish. Using a cheaper wine doesn’t always work positively. You will be able to taste the difference.
Which is best with pork: wine or beer?
Yes, you possibly go to barbecues at friends’ houses where beer is served as an accompaniment to pork. There’s nothing wrong with that. Served cold, it’s refreshing and it’s also an inexpensive drink. However, wine is just as good, and remember, not everyone likes beer. Wine is good when it is served with pork at a nice dinner or special occasion but don’t rule out serving it at a barbecue. Just remember to pair the pork with the right wine.
- Pulled pork: Line 210 Lambrusco Rosso pairs well with pulled pork. It is a sparkling red wine that has purple hues. It smells and tastes like berries, mainly raspberries and blueberries. The taste of berries and the complexity of flavours match the smokiness of the pulled pork.
- Pork chops with gravy or a creamy sauce: La Crema Sonoma Coast 2017 is a good match for pork chops with a sauce. This Chardonnay is creamy with the aromas of poached pears, a little apple, and red plums. It tastes creamy and buttery and there are hints of oak when you taste it as it has been aged in oak barrels. There is a juicy acidity on the tongue and the taste of the wine lingers.
- Slow roasted pork: Di Bruno 2016 Pinot Grigio pairs well with slow roasted pork. It has hints of tangerine and lime, as well as some floral aromas.
- Pork chops with apples: Paradise Peat Sweet Riesling is the perfect match for pork chops cooked with apples or served with applesauce. There are aromas of peach and apple and it has a bright acidity. You will taste ripe apples and poached pears.
- Honey-glazed ham: A red wine goes well with honey-glazed ham, but it needs to be light. Meiomi Pinot Noir is rich, but not overbearing. It has berry flavours and aromas, with not too many tannins and it is silky smooth.
- Grilled pork: Andre Brunei Grenach 2016 is a good choice. There are hints of cherries and blackberries, with a slightly smoky taste, including black pepper and fennel. The smokiness of the wine goes well with the smokiness of the pork.