The wine topic that everyone seems to be obsessed with this week is what goes best with turkey (Thanksgiving is next Thursday, or hadn't you heard?). Not us. There's still plenty of time to tackle that topic, and if you tend to procrastinate as much as we do, then you'll enjoy reading about (and practicing) the pairing that actually deserves a helluva lot more attention, given that you probably only celebrate Thanksgiving - and as such, only roast and consume a turkey - once a year. The food and wine match-up that's most dear to our hearts? Wine and bacon.
That's right, the only thing we love to consume more than wine on a daily basis is, well, swine. To be specific, we're pretty much obsessed with foods of the porcine persuasion, although bacon surely ranks at the top. But we don't adore pork simply because it's porky -- we love it because it is almost unequivocally the perfect companion for wines of all varietals. Seriously. If you can think of a dish that involves anything even remotely hammy, there's a wine for that. Shoot, if you wanted to start with the wine you feel like drinking and work backwards to land on a bacon-laden dish on which to nosh upon, you can do so with ease. Kinda makes us think that the National Pork Board's new slogan should read: "Pork: The Other Wine Meat." Based on months of a heavy pork and wine-based diet, we fondly present you with four of our favorite, supremely bacon-friendly wines.
Simonsig Pinotage Brut Rose Sparkling NV ($19)
Why it's so bacon friendly: Come on, people -- it's bubbly! And to make it even more bacon-worthy, it's pink bubbly -- the best bubbly there is. In this case, the grape responsible for that lovely blush hue is pinotage, a South African varietal that's a bit infamous for ending up as a rather gamy, funky red. In sparkling form, those same characteristics go all flirty and feminine, resulting in a fresh, fruity wine that's just begging for bacon.
Ideal bacon-based food pairing: Sparkling wines particularly love foods that are salty and crispy. Since bubbly makes for the perfect pre-meal bevvie, serve it with a ridiculously easy (and dare we say, Thanksgiving meal apropos) appetizer of crostini topped with a schmear of blue cheese, a slice of pear or fig, and finished, of course, with a generous crumbling of bacon.
Joseph Leitz "Leitz Out" Riesling 2009 ($13)
Why it's so bacon friendly: You read it here first: Riesling is the perfect fall wine. The scrumptious aromas (limestone and other minerals, honeysuckle) and flavor profiles (apple, peach, pear, citrus) commonly found in riesling just happen to make pretty stellar partners for pork.
Ideal bacon-based food pairing: Since this is a German riesling, we'll follow the old adage of not trying to fix what ain't broke. So if you were to imagine a meal comprised of German fare, what do you suppose might be on the menu? If you answered sausage -- kielbasa, bratwurst, you name it -- you'd be right on the money. And if you were to serve said sausage with its oh-so-Teutonic counterpart, sauerkraut? All the better. Because the pairing of a fat, juicy link with crisp-tart kraut (hell, get crazy and drizzle on some mustard just for fun) and a glass of this refreshing, not-too-sweet riesling will make you forget all about drinking beer next Oktoberfest.
Gagliardo Dolcetto d'Alba 2009 ($17)
Why it's so bacon friendly: You've probably never tried the northern Italian grape dolcetto (say "del-chetto"), so it's unlikely that you're aware of its masterful ability to play well with a wide range of pork-based dishes. And by "ability," we mean its incredibly versatile, highly quaffable nature. Consider this the Tim Tebow of the Italian varietals.
Ideal bacon-based food pairing: If you thought we were going to rattle off a listing of the usual Italian cuisine suspects, think again. While we'd never steer you away from pouring this medium-ish-bodied, fairly low acid (for an Italian grape) red with pizza or pasta Bolognese, we're gonna raise the pork ante on you just a smidge. Since this gorgeous dolcetto is full of all sorts of sultry dark cherry and raspberry fruit but ends with the slightest tinge of tannic bitterness, we're loving the idea of drinking it with a coffee- and spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, plated with a side of cranberry-jicama salsa. A perfect combo for those post-Turkey day blues, wouldn't you say?
Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell 2009 ($16)
Why it's so bacon friendly: We've been on a bit of a monastrell binge lately, so you can only imagine our utter delight at discovering that the latest Juan Gil bottling had just arrived in the States. This is as bacon-worthy a wine as you might ever hope to discover: It's equal parts ballsy and fruit-forward (lots of dried blueberries) as well as complex and spicy (aromas of cured salami, fennel and cinnamon) and goes down easier than you might like...in fact, you'd better scoop up a few bottles of this one.
Ideal bacon-based food pairing: A wine this hearty needs a pork-based dish that's equal to a not-insignificant challenge: standing up to bushels full of dark berry fruit and a fair amount of oak. For us, that means a hunk of pig that's been roasted low and slow and is guaranteed to transport us to a state of comfort food nirvana: osso bucco. Okay, so maybe classic osso bucco doesn't usually involve bacon, but after drinking a glass or four of this wine, we promise you won't even miss it.