Swine Pairing: What to Pour With Bacon-Infused Dishes

We’ve been wrapping slices of bacon around filet mignon steaks for eons. The practice was started to lend flavor and prevent the steak from drying out during cooking, because this particular cut of beef has low levels of marbling or intramuscular fat.

More recently, however, bacon has found its way into less traditional dishes — including donuts. Many supermarkets now have maple bacon donuts in their bakery sections, having jumped on a craze supposedly started by Dawn Brown at her Swirls bakery in Omaha, Neb. (now closed, according to Urban Spoon).

Brown said she wanted to create an item that people would either love or hate, but definitely would talk about. She dubbed her maple bacon donut “The Elvis.”

A nod to “Fat Elvis,” a.k.a. “Las Vegas Elvis,” we would presume.

A good cup of dark roast coffee goes quite nicely with “The Elvis” and other versions of this sweet treat. But as bacon shows up in more and more main course dishes, there are opportunities for wine pairing. Because of bacon’s saltiness, selecting a complementary wine can be challenging — but it’s not impossible.

One popular choice is sparkling wine, because its high level of acidity produces a refreshing quality that provides a perfect counterpoint to saltiness. Sparkling wines made with red winegrapes (i.e., Rosés) also provide complementary flavors.

Another sublime swine pairing partner is Riesling, especially when made in an “off-dry” style — which is winespeak for slightly sweet. In this case, it’s not the mouthfeel of the wine, but rather its flavors — sweet apple, peach and pear, often accented with a hint of citrus — that make the pairing not just work, but sing.

Finally, there’s the “go to” choice of all “go to” choices: Sangiovese. The most widely planted red winegrape of Italy also happens to be an extremely versatile food wine, and because it’s relatively low in tannin, it works well with fatty foods such as bacon. There’s no need to seek out an ultra-expensive bottle; a simple, well-made Chianti is just fine.

Is the widespread popularity of bacon today a trend or merely a craze? Either way, it’s showing up in more and more restaurant dishes, which means you need to have a pairing plan in place when the time comes to select the wine.

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Tomorrow: A wine-friendly recipe for bacon-wrapped meatloaf.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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