Which wines to match with pork dishes

almost 5 years ago
5 min read

Pork comes in many forms. Be it bacon, belly or baby-back ribs, the full gamut of options leaves the door wide open for some creative wine-matching. While pork can be hard to match with wine, that challenge makes it all the more fun, and a little bit of thought makes a good hooch-and-hog match so sweet. Let's learn which wines to pig out on.

But which wine will go best with what?

A pig is a fairly fatty beast. But we're talking visceral fat for the most part, not so much connective tissue. So while the loin itself is quite lean, you can get some magnificent results in many ways using the glorious belly fat that can really get the juices flowing.

Let's start with classic dishes, and go a bit wild – but not feral – from there.

Roast pork and crackling

Roast pork lets the flavour of the beast shine, so if your grunter really is a wild one, it's gonna have some beastly feral flavours, too. If this is the case, reach for some equally feral wine, or even a perry (traditional pear cider). Obviously, if you're happy to scoff some scruffy snorters, you're likely to enjoy that all-natural, unpolished vino as well. Often with strong, elemental grape flavour to match a flavourful dish, sometimes a little spritz to counter the fatty mandible-lubrication of the crackling, and freshness to bring it home. It'll wash the delicious roast down all too easily. 

More traditional? Reach for the apple sauce, and a goblet of pinot gris. The pear and apple flavours within will unveil this variety's hidden purpose in life. 

Ham it up

Leg ham; picnic ham; good ol' gammon (no we're not sidetracked here). Go some guanciale. Perhaps prosciutto. Bacon even. What you're having here is the simplest of salty – sometimes smokey – goodness that can be offered up by any given porker. Let's go for some home-cooked fat chips (peel, steam, oil bake till golden) and brussel sprouts, and your favourite béarnaise or aioli. 

Alright, let's break that down: you've got some eggy-vinegar sauce rounding out your salty, hammy centrepiece, and token greens. Salt; fat; vinegar; maybe smoke – check. You'll want something with a touch of sugar to counter the salt; acidity and aroma to meet the fat and vinegar; maybe a touch of toasty-smokiness going on. This screams cool climate chardonnay. If you're really after a red, go with a Central Otago pinot noir for that smokey grunt (that one was unintended – not unwelcome, just unintended).

Split pea & ham soup

A special mention to that most wintry of ham hock delights, a slow-cooked pea and ham soup. With its completely different texture and mouthfeel, and much more integrated – and relatively subtle – pork flavours, you'll do best with something fine and zesty. Riesling from any part of the world will do magnificently. Super, you might say.

Pork ribs

As with other American barbecue treats, pork ribs (or baby back ribs) are all about that sweet, sticky barbecue sauce: concentrated tomato, Worcestershire, sugar, vinegar, spices and chilli. You could go with an off-dry riesling, but when you're smashing ribs, you don't want to think too hard, you want a wine partner that matches the fun and hedonistic vibes. Controversially, we're gonna go with rosé for the win this time. Good rosé is often made to enjoy for its own balance and brilliance, and as such will often have a bit of spice, a touch of sugar and fresh acidity. A rib-ticklingly good match. 

Pork belly

It's taken us far too long to pull out the chenin blanc card, but now is its time. Chenin blanc, or Vouvray (some of the best chenin around, from France), either as a straight variety or in a blend, maintains a pillowy richness along a brilliant acid backbone, featuring flavours of honeyed pear and melon. Given the impressive dexterity of its palate, its the perfect match for pork belly, from crunchy outside to soft centre. Chenin won't shy away from apple sauce or Asian spice, so you're free to do pork belly how only you can do pork belly. Give this world class Rall White Blend a go, and branch out into some of the best wine from South Africa in the process. Or if you're more of a red mofo, get your pork and pinot noir fix here (but instead of Otago, this time go something lighter and more focussed on delicate aromatics – we're thinking Tassie or something French).

Sirloin or cutlets

This will be your staple, so you'll want to stock up big time on the wine match, too. Given the juicy-but-lean nature of the actual pork loin, grab some low-acid grenache or GSM for a fleshy mouthful of fruity fun. Yes, you can have your favourite shiraz or syrah if you're fresh out of grenache or garnacha.

Chorizo or pork sausage

Everything else goes in here, you know the drill. And what flavoursome delights these are. You'll have sausages till the hogs come home, and then some. So: spicy-fatty. You're gonna want either sweet-acidic or spicy-acidic to counter. Zinfandel is the first thing to fit the bill – something like Marietta's OVR Zinfandel with its plushness, fruit-sweetness, acidity and spice. 

Or if your sausage is more rustic than spicy, crack out a Chianti, or any sangiovese within arm's reach. Grab some tumblers and salute the spiritual home of sausage.

Snout-to-tail, no fail

Nose-to-tail eating is sustainable, so it's worth touching on the options galore here, too. If there's anything leftover from making your favourite sausage style, here's what you can do with it:

  • Snout: Soup, no doubt
  • Trotter: with so much cartilage and bugger all meat, these are your stock fortifiers
  • Ear: no dogs to deal with these delicacies? They're quite popular all around the world, and you'll find many methods to make these morsels moreish. Hear, hear.

You can even cook the tail the same way you'd make ribs. Let us know how that goes.

With good wine to the rescue and some thoughtful food matches, we think you can tame any piece of porcine perfection with panache. 

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