I love wine with pork roast. It has so many variations that pork and wine pairing offers endless combinations. I don’t know why so many people feel that pork roast is a meat that has to be covered up by a sauce, glaze or fruit compote. It’s fantastic by itself just nicely seasoned. However, if your holiday meal involves a pork roast and you feel obligated to smother it in something, make sure you ignore any wine pairing advice for meat and wine because the sauce will be the predominant flavor and that is the flavor with which to pair your wine. If you need advice on pairing wine with different sauces, check out our food and wine pairing wizard because trying to cover the multitudes of sauces that cooks use to accompany pork would flip this from a short blog post to something the length of War and Peace. For this post, we are only offering advice on pairing wine with pork roasts that do not have a sauce.
To pair wine with pork roast, I break down the meat into three different types. Fattier roasts like pork shoulder, leaner cuts like pork rib roast (basically a bunch of bone-in pork chops left together so it’s a roast with an outer layer of fat) and very lean cuts like tenderloin. By the way, pork shoulders are often called pork butts even though they come from the front part of the animal, not the derriere. There’s a logical reason for this that’s rooted in history but this is a wine blog, not a linguistics one, so I’ll leave it to the reader to learn why. Just don’t be confused if you see pork shoulder and pork butt used interchangeably.
Fattier pork roasts like shoulders are not a tender cut of meat so they require longer, slower cooking which means that fat will permeate the meat. Fattier meats stand up to more tannic wines in general but the milder flavor of a pork roast usually exclude the biggest red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. If you want to serve those big ones, this is you one and only chance with a pork roast but there are better options. Aside from excluding the big reds, a fattier pork roast probably offers the widest array of wine pairings of any meat. The fat in the meat does well with medium tannin wines like Merlot or Malbec (just don’t get overly fruity versions of either) or lighter reds like Pinot Noir or a lighter Sangiovese. A lot of articles on the internet suggest pork roast with white wines but I would avoid, full, soft white wines like Chardonnay if it is a fattier roast. They just don’t hold up to the fat content of the meat. If you really want to pair a white wine with the pork, look for a crisp, dry Riesling or a Pinot Grigio. The clean acid on the finish of the Riesling will do a nice job cutting through the fat of the pork roast although you won’t get the benefit of having the tannins to help clear pork fat off of your palate.
For leaner pork roasts with just a thin layer of fat on the outside, light red wines and full bodied whites are both great choices. If you are serving a pork roast, this is the type that has the most options. Pinot Noir or Dolcetto are both good choices but this is also your chance to break out your favorite Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or white Rhone blend. If you want to try something a little out of the ordinary, see if you can track down a Fiano, an unusual white Varietal from the Campania region of Italy.
Pork tenderloin is the leanest type of pork. Calling it a roast is probably a stretch because it is grilled as often as roasted, but either way, it’s a succulent and tender piece of meat if it is not overcooked. With only a little fat and subtle natural juices, white wines are the best choice. Virtually any red wine other then very light ones will overpower the meat. If you want a red wine, Pinot Noir will be the best bet out of the more well known wines. My favorite pairing with a nice seasoned pork roast would be a dry Riesling.
We hope our suggestions on wine pairings with pork roast have proved helpful.