A Wine Pairing ‘Cheat Sheet’ for Pork

Traditional Sliced Honey Glazed HamThe recognized world record for consumption of bacon is 182 strips, eaten in five minutes by Matt Stonie.

It’s doubtful Mr. Stonie had time to drink any wine while he was setting that record. But had the opportunity been available, a sparkling rosé would have been the best pairing partner.

It’s impossible to name just one perfect partner for pork because pork can assume so many guises. With that in mind, here is a “cheat sheet” for the next time you have some sort of pork on your plate…

  • HAM — Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and many people opt for ham rather than a roasted turkey for the main course. With a simply prepared ham, sparkling wine, Gamay or Beaujolais Nouveau are good choices. If you opt for a honey-glazed ham, that added sweetness expands the wine options to include off-dry (semi-sweet) renditions of Riesling or Gewurztraminer.
  • GERMAN-STYLE DISHES — Pork sausages accompanied by acidic side dishes such as sauerkraut call for equally acidic (meaning refreshing) wines. Opt for Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.
  • BARBECUED PORK — Most barbecue sauces are at least somewhat spicy, and when that sauce is applied to pork, the best vinous pairing partner is an off-dry white wine. Riesling or Pinot Grigio can work beautifully. Prefer red wine? Uncork a bottle of Beaujolais or Grenache.
  • EASTERN-STYLE PORK DISHES — Many dishes from India, China and other Eastern countries can be extremely spicy, and that makes wine pairing a true challenge. Sparkling wine is always one pairing possibility with spicy fare, and other options include semi-sweet Gewurztraminer or Riesling. In particular, because it has its own spicy (but not hot) character, Gewurztraminer can work very well.

One culinary trend of the 2010s is the emergence of restaurants that are focused more on pork than on beef or seafood. At BarBacon in Manhattan, for instance, the menu includes the Bacon Loves Lobster Roll ($22), BarBacon Banh Mi ($12), Tahini and Bacon Kale Salad ($15), along with numerous desserts that include bacon. You can read a report on the restaurant here.

Not surprisingly, the wine list includes pork-friendly sparking, white and red selections. But perhaps the most inspired pairing of all — with almost any of the dishes — would be the Rosé Sangria, its evident sweetness counterbalancing the bacon’s saltiness.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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