The Best Wine and Pork Pairings

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Roast pork with red wine glass on a table

Did you know that, excluding bacon, almost any cut or pork preparation is a versatile choice for wine pairing? That’s because pork, often dubbed “the new white meat,” is mild in flavor and not gamey.

Wine and Pork: All About the Acidity

A wine’s acidity, often described as tart, crisp, fresh or bright, is what makes wine go well with food. While usually used for red wines, these descriptive terms can also apply to higher-acidity white wines.

A wine's acidity level is influenced by climate and grape variety: cooler climates produce wines that are higher in acid because the grapes ripen more slowly. Therefore, Chardonnay grown in Burgundy (for example) will have a higher acidic content than a California Chardonnay.

Because its taste is so subtle and versatile, you have many options when pairing wine with pork. Whether you're preparing pork with cream or butter sauce, barbequed pork ribs, spicy pork or juicy pork loin, it has a light sweetness that pairs well with fruity, high-acid and earthy wines, both red and white.

The taste of pork has changed over the last decade or so. As demand for lean cuts has increased, pigs have been increasingly bred to be lean.

Occasionally, however, you can still find marbled, tender cuts that provide the juiciness and crispiness that connoisseurs of pork love so much. Marbled meat is also more forgiving of overcooking.

Both fatty and lean pork have a sweet, subtle flavor, which makes them easy to pair with a variety of wines.

3 Tips for Pairing Wine and Pork

Here are 3 tips from the experts on creating the best wine and pork pairings:

  1. Pork pairs well with fruity, high-acid and earthy wines with a low tannin count.
  2. Generally speaking, medium to fuller-bodied wines such as Grenache or Chateauneuf-du-Pape and low to medium-bodied wines such as Pinot Noir complement most types of pork.
  3. When choosing a wine, keep in mind the boldness of the flavor of the pork dish. The bolder the flavor, the bolder your wine can be.

The perfect wine to accompany your pork dish will depend on the cut and ingredients. Here are four popular dishes with a few pairing recommendations from the experts:

Pork with Crème or Butter Sauce

If your pork meal includes a sumptuous cream or butter sauce, you might want to go with a spicy Gewurztraminer. Gewurtztraminer is one of the 18 Noble Grapes and, with only 20,000 acres cultivated worldwide, it is a relatively rare wine grape.

You may also want to try a richer Chardonnay. Originating in the Burgundy wine region of Eastern France, Chardonnay is one of the most widely grown grape varieties and is one of America’s favorite wines.

Barbequed Pork Ribs

The bold, rich flavor of barbequed pork ribs goes well with a bold medium-bodied or full-bodied wine such as Zinfandel or Grenache. Barbequed pork is also complemented by the fresh fruity flavor of pinot noir and Merlot. Lighter-bodied white wines that go well with barbequed pork include Reisling, pinot grigio, and Chardonnay.

Spicy Pork

A sweet and spicy Asian marinade is an alternative to traditional barbeque sauce. Korean spicy pork pairs well with the lightly spiced, sweet Gewurztraminer. The fruitiness of pinot noir also complements Asian-spiced dishes.

Tender Juicy Pork Loin

This succulent and delicate dish pairs extremely well with certain white wines such as Chianti. Chianti is a cherry-flavored, dry, medium-bodied wine made from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Chianti area of Tuscany. The most popular wine outside of Italy, Chianti is only slightly tannic and pairs well with fattier dishes like pork loin, and can hold its own with tomato sauces. You can also try a pinot noir, Freisia, or Spanish-style Garnacha (Grenach) for another complementary pairing.

If you have a pork dish that you would like to make and it is not mentioned above, we recommend that you start thinking about wine pairings based on the herbs, spices, sauce and other ingredients you are using, and then choose a wine to complement the flavors. When in doubt, with pork you generally won't go wrong with a pinot noir or a Zinfandel. For a more specific recommendation, you can call us!

Wine Pairing Help

If you need more information about pork and wine or other food and wine pairings, we have knowledgeable wine specialists available to help.

Our team of wine specialists is at your disposal, ready with personalized recommendations to suit your palate or occasion. Whether you’re ordering or serving pork or any other dish, JJ Buckley has fine wines for all of your pairing needs.