Pork famously became "the other white meat" when the National Pork Board launched the slogan back in the 1980s. It's a term that's stuck — more than 90 percent of Americans recognize it today, according to Pamela Johnson of the board's Pork Information Bureau. Ironically, perhaps, the slogan is so familiar that the National Pork Board is looking for new slogans to help wake up the consumer to all the porky possibilities.
If I was working for the pork board, I'd tell them to go grab a wine glass. The pork board's Web site (theotherwhitemeat.com) has recipes, a handful of which include wine in the cooking. But there are no wine pairings or wine tips.
"We think everything goes with pork. It's so versatile," Johnson said.
That's fine, but it is not going to help the average wine buyer looking for a bottle to go with tonight's pork chops or tomorrow's sausages or Sunday's pork roast. Many guides point to red wine as the answer, but what about white, particularly when it is hot out?
The best advice on choosing a white wine for pork is to consider how fatty or rich the cut is, how it will be prepared and the flavor of the other ingredients.
Fiona Beckett, the Britain-based author of "Food, Wine & Friends," writes that pork works well with the same wines you would serve with chicken. "But the extra fattiness calls for wines with a little more acidity." Beckett suggests a roasted pork, flavored Italian-style with garlic and fennel, pairs well with a dry Italian wine. Cold roast pork hits it off with chenin blanc and riesling. Otherwise, though, she goes for a soft, fruity red.
Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, authors of "What to Drink with What You Eat," like chardonnay, especially from California, and Alsatian gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer is also a go-to wine if the pork is served with fruit or a fruit sauce, like apples, they note.
Do experiment. Our tasters really liked a California chardonnay paired with a pork chop, but were less enthusiastic about the gewurztraminer match.
What white wines work best with pork?
Tasters sampled six whites from around the world with broiled center-cut pork chops. The wines were tasted first on their own, then with the pork. The resulting score below reflects on how well the wine worked with the meat.
2007 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Reserve: From Sonoma's Russian River Valley, this is a classic California chardonnay, aromatic with notes of vanilla, caramel and ripe peaches. The flavor is big and buttery with notes of toast, peaches and butterscotch. The pork's natural sweetness worked with the rich fruity profile of the wine; the meat minimized some of the wine's excesses. $35
2008 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris: This wine from Oregon's Willamette Valley is leaner and more minerally than the California chard, but still has a smooth peach and apple flavor. The aroma is strangely porky, but that works fine. The wine brings out a nutty quality to the pork. $20
2008 Inama Vin Soave Soave Classico: An Italian wine made from 100 percent garganega grapes, the grape used for Soave. A deep gold color, the wine has a caramel and peach nose, a big bone-structure and a rich toasty flavor. The pork makes the wine taste fruitier, livelier. $14
2009 Meinhard Forstreiter Gruner Veltliner Grooner: The "Grooner" moniker on a label sporting a woman yodeling sends a clear message this Austrian wine is aimed at the smart, ironic Millennial set. But it is a charming wine for all ages, with a citrusy nose, a lively minerality and flavor notes of litchi, pineapple and pear. The pork cuts slightly into the wine's acidity. $12
2009 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc: From New Zealand's Marlborough region, this well-known white has that classic Kiwi profile: A cat pee nose (yep, that's a real wine term) that turns herbaceous; flavor notes of mango countered by lime and grapefruit. The pork counters some of the wine's tartness. $16
2007 Hugel Gewurztraminer: Softly floral and aromatic, with a spritzy minerality and crisp finish, this gewurztraminer is a classic wine of France's Alsace region. But the wine neither helps nor hinders the pork. If anything, the wine recedes a little too far into the shadows. $28
You want that wine. But your store or area distributor may not carry it. State law may prohibit you from ordering a wine online. What to do? Ask your wine retailer for a wine similar in flavor, style and price. Remember, too, prices vary.
Grilled marinated center-cut pork chops
Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 16 minutes Makes: 4 servings
This recipe from Jim Villas' "Pig: King of the Southern Table" calls for thick, center-cut pork chops. "Broil or grill them just until golden," Villas writes, noting the marinating and cooking times will be shorter with thinner chops.
1/3 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons each: fresh lemon juice, soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 piece (1/2-inch long) ginger root, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 pork center-cut loin chops, about 1-inch thick
1 Whisk the juices, soy sauce, oil, ginger, garlic, sage and pepper in a bowl until blended. Arrange the chops in a glass baking dish. Pour the marinade over the top; marinate uncovered at room temperature, about 1 hour, turning the chops twice and spooning the marinade over the top.
2 Prepare a grill or heat broiler. Arrange the chops on the rack or in broiling pan. Grill or broil about 5 inches from heat until golden, about 8 minutes. Turn the chops; grill until golden brown but still moist inside, 8-9 minutes.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 247 calories, 50% of calories from fat, 13 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 89 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, 28 g protein, 388 mg sodium, 0 g fiber