Best wines for pork dishes
Pair with: A big red combining sweet fruit, smoke, and spice, such as a Syrah. The jammy fruit flavors in our bottle pick also have an earthy character that made us think of figs—which, in turn, are perfect with the sweet, deep flavor of long-roasted pork shoulder. A succulent package all together. Recommended bottle: Murray 2009 Syrah (Red Mountain).
Pair with: Syrah. It's often a very textural wine, uncannily reminiscent of black beans. Our bottle pick also happens to be fruity enough to tame the robust heat in this chili and juicy enough to link to the three kinds of tender pork. Recommended bottle: Twisted Oak 2009 Syrah (Calaveras County).
Pair with: Chardonnay. Pork leans to the sweet side of meat, making it a good match for the sweet core of fruit in Chard, as well as the wine’s textures. Our bottle pick is rich enough to complement roast pork, but being from a cool region, also has the acidity and minerality to work with savory herbs. Recommended bottle: Cinnabar 2011 Chardonnay (Monterey).
Pair with: Chardonnay. It generally has great citrus flavors, but unless the wine also has vibrant acidity, it’s a tough match for actual citrus. Our bottle pick, from chilly, acid-hugging Green Valley, works. And the nuts here pull out its richness. Recommended bottle: Dutton-Goldfield 2011 Dutton Ranch–Rued Vineyard Chardonnay (Green Valley of Russian River Valley).
Pair with: A deep, plummy Syrah blend with intense berry and earthy spice flavors. The char on the pork goes head-to-head with the smoke in the wine. What's more, the dish and our bottle pick have herbal streaks that match well. Recommended bottle: John Duval 2008 “Plexus” (Barossa Valley).
Recipe: Cranberry Pork Tenderloin
Pair with: Pinot Noir. The cranberries extend the berry flavors and spices in the wine so deliciously. This silky bottle pick is bright with red berry flavors edged with warm spices that make it a great choice for holiday meals. Recommended bottle: Chestnut Peak 2009 Pinot Noir (Sonoma County).
Recipe: Shot-and-a-Beer Pork Stew
Pair with: Grenache. With generous, juicy fruit and loads of spice, it's an extremely food-friendly wine. That sweet fruit is especially good with Southwest-flavored pork. And in the case of this bottle pick, a combination of pepper and cocoa in the wine works really well with the dried chiles in the stew. Recommended bottle: Horse & Plow 2008 Grenache (Alexander Valley).
Pair with: A peppery Merlot. With a few years in the bottle, the tannins in our pick have softened to a silky level that complements pork and eggplant. Its pepper welcomes spice, and tobacco smoke makes the caramelization pop. Recommended bottle: Paint Horse 2005 Merlot (Sonoma Valley).
Pair with: A mellow Carbernet Sauvignon. Our bottle pick doesn't have the serious tannins that require red meat. The brown sugar and pepper in the pork rub pull out sweet fruit and spices in the wine; the sage likes its foresty side. Recommended bottle: Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley).
Recipe: Salsa Verde Braised Pork
Pair with: A white blend that balances sweet aromatics with herbal crispness. It can take on a hearty dish, in this case a Mexican stew with aromatic spices and sprightly green chiles (the wine’s fruitiness tames their heat). Recommended bottle: X Winery “White X” Winemaker’s Blend 2008 (North Coast).
Recipe: Spicy Pork Ribs
Pair with: Zinfandel. Cultivate the urge to reach for a Zin any time you have pork ribs on the table: The two are one of the food-and-wine world’s great matches. These particular ribs are on the hot side (use less harissa if you like), but our bottle pick, blended with Petite Sirah and other grapes, has a level of rich fruit and spice to make it work. Recommended bottle: Venge “Scout’s Honor” Proprietary Red 2006 (Napa Valley).
Recipe: Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloins
Pair with: A spicy Pinot Noir. Our bottle pick is a complex one, with layers of warm spices and a touch of licorice that match up beautifully with the spectrum of seasonings on this pork: star anise, ginger, cinnamon. Recommended bottle: Sonoma Coast Vineyards Freestone Hills Pinot Noir 2006 (Sonoma Coast).
Pair with: Riesling. If you can’t imagine putting a sweet wine with an entrée, give this match a try. Riesling has a special affinity to pork, and when it’s sweet but balanced with racy acidity, it comes alive with sweet-hot flavors like apples and mustard sauce. Recommended bottle: Josef Rosch Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Spätlese 2006 (Mosel-Säar-Ruwer, Germany).
Pair with: Merlot. Because its tannin structure is generally a tad rounder than Cab’s, it goes well with meats that have gentle protein structures of their own. We’ve added greens since Merlot handles them better than many reds. Recommended bottle: H3 Merlot 2006 (Columbia Valley).
Recipe: Herb-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
Pair with: Zinfandel. Pork ribs and Zin are one of summer’s best pairings―and an all-American one, since Zin is as close to a native grape as we have: While it traces its roots to eastern Europe, no one in the world does Zin like California winemakers. We’ve shamelessly spiked our homemade barbecue sauce here with the wine to lock in the match.
Pair with: Zinfandel. Lacking the firm tannins common in other big red wines—which can fight with spice—big-fruited Zinfandel is a good match for mildly hot Southwestern food. This bottle pick in particular, with its cool-weather herbal edge, works well with the green chiles in the stew. Recommended bottle: Dutton Goldfield Zinfandel 2005 (Russian River Valley).
Pair with: Riesling. A very slightly off-dry Riesling makes a great foil for the heat in many Asian dishes and maybe because of its rich mouth-feel and sweet fruit, Riesling has a special place in its heart for pork. Recommended bottle: Charles Smith Wines “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling 2007 (Columbia Valley).
Recipe: Sunset Classic Barbecued Ribs
Pair with: Zinfandel. The juicy dark berries and black pepper in Zin make it the perfect rib wine.
Recipe: Grilled Pork Noodles
Pair with: Viognier. A wine dripping with exotic, honeyed orange blossoms and stone fruit flavors calls for an exotic food match.