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Food & Wine Pairing - Pork

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine...

Wine and Pork is a glorious combination...

Pairing Wine with Pork

Pork cuts tend to be lean now, so the meat is higher in protein and about 30 percent lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. This meat is also incredibly versatile—and cooking pork is pretty easy. 

Whether you’re planning your main course to go with those tasty pulled pork sides or hoping to try a new pork ramen recipe, this guide to different types of pork will help you pick the right cut for your occasion.

  • Garlic and Rosemary Pork Loin Roast, this dish with a leaner cut of pork uses plenty of fresh herbs and garlic. The savory notes blend well with the herbaceous, slightly zesty nature of Sauvignon Blanc. 

  • Sweet and Tangy Pork Roast, the highly aromatic notes of Gewurztraminer make it a perfect pairing for the complex flavors of sweet and tangy pork. The slight amount of residual sugar gives the wine a hint of sweetness, blending smoothly with the sweetness in the sauce. 

  • Herb Gravy Pork Tenderloin Roast, which is very rich and has fat marbled throughout, needs a young wine to cut through the flavor of the beef. Choose a Bordeaux from France or a Merlot that hasn’t been aged very long.

  • Classic Pork Roast. that have cooked slowly for hours take on a rich, earthy flavor. You’ll need a bold wine that can compete with the intensity of the dish. In this case, a slightly fruity red wine can be the perfect match. Go with a big Burgundy from France or a Zinfandel from Sonoma, California.

  • Maple Green Apple Pork Loin Roast, Naturally acidic Chablis makes a good companion to a pork loin roast drizzled with maple syrup and tart green apples. This minerally wine is big on citrus notes, lending a certain zippiness to the flavor profile and a pleasing contrast to the dish.

A straight forward Pork dish requires a straightforward wine which matches the food’s simplicity, while adding some flair. If a white wine is called for, then a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay (not Bold/Oaky type) will work. If a red wine is called for, then go for a Beaujolais, or look towards the Loire Valley in France, that would work well.

  1. When you pair wine and pork roasts, you need to consider how the pork was cooked and which cut it comes from.
  2. In general, fattier cuts of pork such as pork butt or picnic shoulder work well with moderate to light-bodied reds—the more acidic, the better. You also want to look for reds that have more savoury than intense fruity notes.
  3. Since pork naturally has some sweetness to it, it can’t handle bold, highly tannic reds like Syrah, Nebbiolo, or Cabernet Sauvignon. Warm-climate, tannic reds like Petite Syrah and Shiraz are also too overwhelming for pork roasts.
  4. Leaner cuts, like those originating from pork loin, suit both light-bodied reds and light to moderate-bodied whites.
  5. The leanest, mildest cuts of tenderloin follow the mantra of white with white. You have an excellent pairing if you match tenderloin with light-bodied acidic white wine.
  6. Another factor to consider is the type of sauce or seasoning you’re adding to the roast. Most pork roasts have herbs, root vegetables, or dry rubs as a seasoning or accompaniment, but some recipes call for honey glaze or balsamic sauces, especially with tenderloin or pork loin.
  7. When you add savoury notes, make sure the wine complements or reflects back on those flavours. You want to match the wine to the sauce since it often becomes the strongest part of the flavour profile.

Eastern foods can be difficult to pair with wine. They often use very distinct, spicy flavours which clash with the wine. If your taste buds are set on having wine, here are a few ideas. An off-dry Gewurztrtaminer or a Riesling would be a good match for spicy or highly flavoured dishes. The sugars in these wines help smooth out the spices. The Gewurztraminer has a spicy-raciness that would match any Asian dishes.

Tasty pork sausages, simply plain or with sage, are good with lightly Oaked Chardonnay, fruity Merlot or Pinot Noir. See roast pork section for other herb flavourings.

If the Pork dish is acidic, such as a dish containing Sauerkraut, then look to match the acids in the food with the wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc. A German Riesling could also work since foods go well with the wines they grew up with.

Whether hams, the fattier cured varieties, or rich terrines, young fruity low – tannin reds with good acidity will partner them well. Steer away from oak. A light Syrah alone, or a Shiraz Cabernet blend. Semillon Chardonnay blends are good, especially with the spicier, peppery salamis.

If the Pork dish is BBQ’d, then look towards an off-dry white wine which has enough sugar to offset the spiceness of the food such as an off-dry Riesling or Pinot Gris or Beaujolais could also work well here.

Go from a humble pork lover to a verified meat connoisseur.

A Guide to Different Cuts of Pork

The most commonly used types of pork are:

  • Chops: The richest and meatiest chops are cut from the centre of the loin. 
  • Loin: Pork loin has a dense texture and a robust flavor, with a large cap of fat from the back. 
  • Tenderloin: This lean, very tender cut from the end of the loin is pale pink and has a fine grain. Long, narrow, and tapering at one end.
  • Pork Belly: Made from ground pork. Flavours range from sweet to savoury and spicy. 
  • Baby-back Ribs: Small and meaty, these curved slabs are taken from the pig’s rib cage near the backbone. Prized for their sweet, juicy meat.
  • Spare Ribs: Spare ribs are very tasty, thanks to a generous amount of fat. Large and irregularly shaped, they come from a pig’s underbelly or lower rib cage.
  • Bacon: Conventional bacon is made from fatty slabs taken from a pig’s underbelly, then smoked and cured with salt.
  • Ham: Is taken from a pig’s leg. Some are smoked, which imparts a meatier, more intense flavour. Hams are sold boneless, semiboneless, and with the bone in.
  • Shoulder: If you love pulled pork, carnitas, and stew. It’s larger, tougher, and fattier than leaner cuts like pork tenderloin and chops.

Chops from the ribs are often grilled or barbecued, When a few chops are kept together in one piece they make a brilliant rib roast. Rib chops work particularly well with sage and apple as well as many spices – marinate your chops for extra flavour.

The area between the shoulder and back legs is the leanest, most tender part of the animal. Rib and loin chops are cut from this area, as are pork loin roasts and tenderloin roasts. These cuts will be dry if overcooked.

The tenderloin is a long thin muscle, found on the inside of the ribcage and is a part of the loin cut. It can be cooked whole, cut into small round medallions and pan-fried, or cut into 1cm slices and bashed into thin escalopes. 

Pork belly comes from the underside of the belly and is essentially uncured, unsmoked and unsliced bacon. But the rich flavour of pork belly is good for more than just breakfast. This cut’s high fat content makes it melt-in-your mouth tender when roasted, and the flavour is deliciously complex.

Pork back ribs are smaller than spare ribs, but contain more meat and less connective tissue than fattier spare ribs do. Back ribs come from the same part of the rib as pork chops and centre-cut roasts, so they can be on the pricier side, but are oh-so-delicious when glazed with a tasty barbecue sauce.

Cut from the belly, they’re larger than back ribs but somewhat less meaty, albeit full of rich flavour.

The boneless pork loin of the pig is also used for making bacon. Independent butchers will use a dry cure method by packing the fresh pork loin with salt and flavourings. 

There are several types of cured hams. The two most common varieties are city hams and country hams. City hams are wet-cured in brine, while country hams are dry-cured in salt then aged, resulting in a flavour similar to Prosciutto. 

Cuts from the upper portion of the shoulder (called the blade shoulder) are well marbled with fat and contain a lot of connective tissue, making them ideal candidates for slow-cooking methods like braising, stewing, or barbecuing.

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