Pork is one of the most versatile foods to pair with wine. Because it can sometimes be naturally blander in flavor then beef or lamb, for example, people have invented countless creative ways to prepare pork that include every flavor you can possibly imagine.
What wine you pair with your pork dish depends on how the pork is cooked and can sometimes be entirely dependent on what sauce is used in the dish. Luckily, pork is one of those foods that can go great with red, white, sparkling, rosé, dry or sweet wines.
A great way to decide what to pair your wine with is to choose your favorite wines and prepare a dish that will compliment that wine. Use this guide below to match up popular pork dishes with your favorite style of wine.
Dry White Wines
Wine is typically considered dry if it has less than eight grams of residual sugar per liter (the amount of sugar leftover in the wine after fermentation is complete). Sweetness and fruitiness are often confused in white wines.
You can still have a very fruit forward wine full of cantaloupe, citrus, raspberry, and cherry flavors; while also having a dry wine. Dry white wines are typically fruit forward, tart, and acidic. They pair perfectly with foods that are sweet or fatty because the acidity from the wine helps cut through those rich flavors.
Dry white wines are typically high in acid. A general rule for wine pairing is to make sure your wine is more acidic than your food. If your food is more acidic than your wine, it tends to cancel out the flavors of the wine.
With pairing white wines, you want to make sure your flavors between the food and the wine compliment each other; which often results in pairing food that has opposite flavors of your wine.
Examples of dry white wines:
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Grigio
Pork dishes that pair well with dry white wine:
- Korean BBQ pork
- Sweet BBQ ribs
- Hawaiian Pizza
Sweet White Wines
Semi-dry or sweet white wines are often paired with spicy ethnic pork dishes and other foods. 35 grams or more of residual sugar per liter is typically when a white wine qualifies as sweet. The sweetness from the wine can lessen the heat from spicy foods and cut through the richness in fatty dish.
More: Seafood Wine Pairing
As a general rule in wine pairing, you want to make sure that your wine is sweeter than your food. Sweet wines are best paired with dishes that are contrasting in taste, for example, spicy food.
Examples of sweet white wines: (Note that these varietals can also be made dry. If you are looking for a sweeter white wine, be sure to check the label to indicate whether it is dry, off-dry, or sweet.)
- Viognier (off-dry)
Pork dishes that pair well with sweet white wine:
- Spicy Thai pork dishes
- Pork stir fry
- Pork belly tacos
Most people only tend to drink sparkling wine on special occasions, but it can also pair very well with certain pork dishes, as well as many other foods. Sparkling wine can also be very versatile in the types of foods you pair it with because there are varying levels of sweetness from bone dry to sweet. They also lack tannin and have a high level of acidity. This makes it a great choice for fatty pork dishes.
To pair sparkling wines with food, follow the same rules you would if you were pairing regular white wines. If the sparkling wine is dry, make sure that you are pairing it with a dish that is less acidic. If the sparkling wine is semi-sweet or sweet, pair it with a dish opposite in flavor or spicy.
Examples of sparkling wines:
- Moscato de Asti
Degrees of Sweetness (this will help you to gage whether or not your wine will be sweeter than your pork dish):
- Extra brut (up to 6 grams/liter of residual sugar)
- Brut (up to 12 grams/liter of residual sugar)
- Extra Dry (12-17 grams/liter of residual sugar)
- Dry (17-32 grams/liter of residual sugar)
- Demi Sec (32-50 grams/liter of residual sugar)
- Doux (50 or more grams/liter of residual sugar)
Pork dishes that pair with sparkling wine:
- Smoked ham
- Pork roast with spiced apples
- Slow roasted ham sandwich
Rosés are made when you take red grapes and make them in the style of white wine. Grapes are harvested, pressed, and sent to ferment without the skins or stems. This creates a light pink or salmon colored unique wine.
Rosé is a great go-to wine for appetizers or dishes that have a lot of components. You get the fruitiness and slight tannins like you would get from a red wine, while also getting the lightness and acidity of a white wine. Wine pairing isn’t limited to just fancy foods. Wine can be paired with anything. When in doubt, a rosé is always a good choice.
Examples of rosé wines:
- Tempranillo Rosé
- Pinot Noir Rosé
- Mourvedre Rosé
- Syrah Rosé
Pork dishes that pair well with dry rosé:
- Bacon wrapped scallops
- Sausage dish or Polish dogs
- Pepperoni pizza
While sweet rosé wines can sometimes be harder to find; if well made, they make an excellent pairing with pork dishes. Any varietal of rosé can be made sweet. The key to picking out a great rosé wine is to find one that is salmon colored. The pinker and darker they are, the more tannins they have. This can be an indication that the skins were left on too long during the pressing process.
Examples of sweet rosé wines: (These are just more examples of excellent varietals of rosé wines. These rosés tend to be a bit fruitier, tend to have higher brix or sugar levels during harvest, and can typically be made into a nice sweet rosé. Any of the examples from the dry rosé and sweet rosé categories can be made either dry or sweet).
- Grenache Rosé
- Sangiovese Rosé
- Zinfandel Rosé
Pork dishes that pair well with sweet rosé:
- Spicy honey mustard pork chops
- Spicy pork pad Thai
- Pork curry with rice
Light red wines are often overlooked when it comes to pairing with food, as people seem to focus on either white wines or bold red wines. There are a large variety of light red wines that are great for food pairing and those who are just getting into red wines.
Because the skin on these grapes is so thin, the wines come out less tannic. They do not need as much aging and can be drank soon after release. Light red wines tend to be acidic and fruit forward.
Pork is an excellent dish to pair with a light red wine. Light red wines are a great wine to pair with appetizers and dishes that have a lot of components. Many appetizers include bacon or ham and make an excellent partner to an acidic and fruit forward red.
Examples of light red wines:
- Pinot Noir
Pork dishes that pair well with light red wines:
- Lightly seasoned pork tenderloin
- Asian spiced pork chop
- Roasted apple pork
- Bacon wrapped scallops
Pork dishes are great if you are looking to pair food with a bold red wine. However, the key to pairing reds is to find a dish that is congruent with the flavors of the wine. For examples, if the wine is earthy and has hints of mushroom and tobacco, try pairing it with a dish that has earthy flavors as well. Dark red wines will also compliment a pork dish that has a lot of rich sides.
Examples of dark red wines:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cabernet Franc
Pork dishes that pair well with dark red wines:
- Pork loin with a mushroom cream sauce
- Pulled pork
- Pork with caramelized onions
TIP: The Golden Rule of wine pairing is to pair with a wine that you like!
Get creative with your wine pairings. The only bad pairing is one that you don’t like. Remember the general rules of wine pairing. Your wine should be sweeter than the dish you are pairing it with. White wines should compliment the food, while red wines should be congruent with the food. If your dish is fatty and rich, pair it with an acidic wine.
Pork is generally very affordable and can be made countless ways. Pork is also one the only meats that can be paired successfully with every single type of wine!