Pork is having a moment. Meals featuring bacon in every form imaginable -- including chocolate-dipped -- have become de rigueur. Restaurants of every stripe are showcasing menus littered with sausages, charcuterie, salumi, pork belly and suckling pig. And perhaps one day, if you are very, very lucky (and clearly, not a vegetarian), you or someone you know will host a dinner party designed to showcase the myriad charms of pork. But since this is a wine blog, not a pork-lover's blog, let's cut to the chase: choosing ideal wines to pair with all that pig.
Pork's versatility is a perfect foil for a multitude of wines, thanks to its talent at soaking up all kinds of flavors. Add to that the fact that you can roast, grill, sear, braise or pan-fry pig to your heart's content and suddenly the wine pairing door swings open even further. Lest you think that Americans' obsession with all things pig is unique, bear in mind that the French have long honored porc as one of their all-time favorite ingredients.
Check out these four delicious French wines and their ideal pork-based pairings:
Cuvée Emile Willm Vin D'Alsace Gewurtztraminer 2007 ($22): Be honest. When was the last time you drank (and actually enjoyed) a gewurtztraminer? Often rejected on the assumption that they're universally treacly-sweet, most quality gewurtz ends up getting overlooked. But when paired up with with salty, fatty pork-based charcuterie plate staples like savory-rich rillettes or a terrine, this varietal's lychee, honeysuckle, and anise flavors are money in the bank.
Dagueneau Blanc Fumée de Pouilly 2004 ($45): Better known as Pouilly-Fume, this smokin' good sauvignon blanc from Loire Valley's über-winemaker Didier Dagueneau will banish any thought you may have that this grape can't deliver big flavors. Round, silky, and minerally, it makes a delightful sipping companion for rich dishes like sausage- and Gruyere-filled macaroni & cheese.
Domaine de la Janasse Côtes du Rhône 2009 ($15): Wanna know why Côtes du Rhônes are known for being the workhorses of the French wine world? Just pour a glass with any dish of the porcine persuasion. These wines can be a bit of a paradox: sometimes they're smooth and fruity; other times, they're loaded with complex spice, tobacco and toasty oak elements. The lively Domaine de la Janasse made a fine companion to an heirloom tomato salad topped with Roquefort cheese and hunks of bacon. Hello, lover!
Eric Texier Vielles Vignes Côte Rôtie 2004 ($60): Okay, so this one's priced a bit out of range for anything other than a very special occasion. But isn't a meal that revolves around pork just such an event? This 100 percent syrah stunner is a textbook example of everything a northern Rhone red should be -- sexy, full-bodied, and luscious. One sip will have you lusting for bacon-centric meals every day of the week, but a crispy pork paillard, topped with bacon fat fueled gravy and served on a tarragon-infused biscuit could push you completely over the edge into a pork-and-wine-induced coma.