As a follow-up to our post about fish and red wine (controversial….? Not really), we’ll look at the flip side today: pairing white wines with meat. Again, this seems to go against received wisdom. Well, if anyone tells you that you shouldn’t drink a rich South African Chenin Blanc with a spiced pork chop, simply smile and carry on. You certainly can have white wine with meat, and we’re going to show you how.
*Our post about fish and red wine:
One of the easiest meat pairings for white wine is chicken. With it’s light flavour, soft texture and lack of heavy fat, chicken or turkey are in fact best paired with a richer white than a heavy red. A richer white in this case means perhaps something with some barrel fermentation or aging – this will make the wine more complex and more full bodied.
A Burgundian-style Chardonnay with would be a good start with many chicken dishes. But think about the sauce or seasoning too. A South African Chenin Blanc with its sweetness and luscious tropical fruits would be more appropriate for spiced, grilled chicken. A Viognier would be an excellent partner for a chicken tagine.
And if it’s a chicken dish full of lemon and herbs then a crisper white might also be appropriate, a Fiano di Avellino or a Bordeaux White.
Duck is an interesting case too. With this meat’s inherent sweetness, even a simple roast duck is wonderful with a Riesling or Pinot Gris; both grapes have the aromatic complexity to match the intensity of the duck, while the acidity cuts through that rich duck fat. Duck is often served with sweeter sauces (duck breast with a poached pear is a classic) and for these dishes you can even reach for a Sauternes, Monbazillac, or a sweet Jurancon wine. It’s a stunning combination.
What applies to chicken is also true for pork and veal. Again, both can be fairly light and neutral in flavour and so the sauce should dictate the choice of wine. A classic combination is pork cooked with apples or cider – a dish famous in Normandy. A top-notch Loire Chenin Blanc from Anjou would be perfect; the wine’s richness matching the sweetness from the apples. Along the same lines, a blanquette of veal is perfect with a rich oaked Chardonnay – like the South African one in the photo below. When the pork or veal is spiced, use the same logic as for chicken.
Other pork/veal dishes that are great with whites include: Viener Schnitzel (or Pork Katsu) with Gruner Veltliner; Sauerkraut/Choucroute with a plethora of pork in various guises is traditionally accompanied by Riesling.
So, this is not going to be to everyone’s taste. For some people in fact this may be blasphemous.
But some really top-quality whites are actually rather good with a beautifully cooked steak. Now, when I say top quality, I mean it: wines that have intensity, power, complexity but plenty of acidity. I’m thinking here of Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, German Grosses Gewachs Riesling or Premier/Grand Cru Chablis.
We recently went to a BBQ that included a whole host of grilled meats – onglet steak as well. There were quite a few wines open – including some excellent reds – but without doubt the stand-out partner was a Grand Cru Chablis. It has the depth and complexity to match the big flavours in the various meats and the steely acidity to cut through all those fatty juices. It was a revelation and utterly delicious.