Pulled pork is commonly made from the pork shoulder, which is fatty and full of connective tissue. As such, it’s a rather inexpensive cut of pork as it requires a long cooking time to break down the connective tissue. As such, pulled pork is often slow-cooked for hours in a smoker, until the meat can be easily pulled apart. Smoking, along with any BBQ sauces or rubs used, imparts plenty of rich and earthy flavours into the meat.
The rich and spicy flavour of Pulled Pork from the smoking process or any sauces used, pairs best with a medium-bodied red with fruity flavours such as a Pinot Noir, a young Tempranillo, easy-drinking Merlot, Pinotage, or Zinfandel. If you’re in the mood for white wine, choose acidic white wines with fresh fruit flavours such as a Riesling, Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends or Verdelho.
Pinotage & Pulled Pork Pairing
Pinotage is a South African red wine that is a cross between a Pinot Noir and the Cinsault grape, which leaves you with a mid-bodied, but inky-black wine. Bursting with rich black cherry, plum, raspberry, and blackberry flavours, Pinotage pairs well with the smoky and rich flavours of Pulled Pork. The medium-bodied nature of Pinotage matches the weight of the slow-cooked pork shoulder meat, while the fruit flavours of the wine offer plenty of refreshment. Heavier reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, will drown out those delicious smoked pork flavours.
Pinotage also has subtle notes of red licorice, menthol, fig and savoury meat flavours, followed by a sweet, smoky finish. This unique profile of flavours complements the sweet and earthy flavours found in pulled pork, as well as any sauces or spices used in the cooking process.
Pinot Noir & Pulled Pork Pairing
It might seem odd pairing a delicate Pinot Noir, which can sometimes be expensive, with Pulled Pork, which comes from an inexpensive cut of pork. However, this pairing is amazing. Pinot Noir is a light and fruity red featuring irresistible flavours of wild field strawberries, which offers a pleasant contrast to juicy pork flavours of pulled pork.
Pinot Noir also has an earthy side, where you can expect notes of forest floor, mushroom and barnyard. These flavours complement the rich and savoury flavours of Pulled Pork nicely, making for an incredibly harmonized pairing. If your Pulled Pork is slathered with BBQ sauce, I’d suggest skipping on the Pinot Noir, as these sugary and spicy sauces will overpower this delicate but delicious red wine.
Zinfandel & Pulled Pork Pairing with BBQ sauce
For Pulled Pork dishes smothered in BBQ sauce, Zinfandel is your red wine to saddle up with. Zinfandel typically has softer tannins and moderate alcohol and is bursting with fruit flavours of plum, cherry, blueberry and cranberry. You also get a little bit of spice, licorice and black pepper, followed by a smoky finish, which makes Zinfandel wonderful with anything slathered in BBQ sauce.
There are different levels of Zinfandel, where some are light and fruity to others that are bold and powerful. For Pulled Pork, as the meat is somewhat tender and delicate, you want a medium-bodied Zinfandel, or else the savoury meat flavours will be crushed.
Riesling & Pulled Pork Pairing
Riesling is an acidic white wine with tangy citrus flavours, and it’s known to pair with just about anything. What makes Riesling a good pairing with Pulled Pork is that it offers some much-needed refreshment against the savoury and smoky flavours of any spices or barbecue sauces accompanying your dish. Riesling’s zippy acidity also electrifies the more subtle flavours in your pulled pork dish and draws out those delicate flavours you may have never noticed before.
Riesling comes in a variety of styles from dry to sweet, and from still to bubbly. I would recommend a dry, or off-dry Riesling with pulled pork. Off-dry means there is a touch of sweetness, which work well with any sugar in your bbq sauce.
Verdelho & Pulled Pork Pairing
Verdelho is a white wine ripe with tropical fruit, honeysuckle, and lime pairings. It also has an oily texture that matches the weight and body of pulled pork. While Verdelho is commonly paired up with shellfish, particularly freshly shucked oysters, it’s quite versatile with many other foods, such as Pulled Pork. We love how the tropical fruitiness of Verdelho is a nice contrast to the spiciness of any bbq sauce your Pulled Pork might be mixed with.
Tropical fruits, like pineapple, are commonly paired with pork at pig roasts for a good reason, the sharp contrast is incredible. With Verdelho, you get the same effect as the tropical flavours and lime flavours in that they offer a refreshing tang when pitted against the savoury and smoky Pulled Pork meat.