Pinot Gris and pork chops. This alliterative combination seems to roll off the tongue, and fortunately for foodies, the pairing at your dinner table can be quite harmonious as well.
Pinot Gris (the French name), which is also referred to as Pinot Grigio (the Italian name) and Grauburgunder (the German name) is a single grape varietal which can produce a fairly wide range of wine styles, depending on where it is grown and how it is treated in the winery. This versatile grape is successfully grown in many places around the globe including Europe, South America, South Africa, Australia, Oregon and California. Some excellent versions are grown and produced here in Sonoma County.
Pinot Gris is an excellent choice to pair with pork chops because the characteristics of the wine are ideal for counteracting the dryness that can often afflict this lean cut of meat. This month’s recipe also adds some delicious components which can help to mask a dry chop, or enhance the juiciness of a chop which has survived the cooking process without getting too desiccated. The heavy cream, chicken stock and fresh tomato and spinach will all add some moisture to the dish while the subtle fruit, moderate body and acidity of the wine will all help with the texture of the meat.
A properly crafted Pinot Gris should have delicate aromas of citrus, notes of various fruits and floral hints on the nose. The wine is typically light to medium bodied with a moderate acidity and should have no forceful flavors or sharp angles. I generally suggest passing over the least expensive Pinot Gris wines available for sale, unless you’ll be using it for some type of wine punch or sangria. When pairing the wine with food, you’ll want more substance, complexity and structure than you’ll likely find with the mass-produced offerings in the “volume” area of the wine department. If the label lists a fairly general source for the grapes, such as “California” or “South Australia,” and sells for ten dollars per bottle or less, save it for the punch bowl. Spending a few dollars more to purchase a wine from a more specific AVA, such as “North Coast,” “Sonoma County” or “Russian River Valley” will ensure that you have more of the intricacy and structure you are looking for to truly enhance the food.
So open a bottle of delicious Pinot Gris, cook up some pork chops and raise a toast to eating and drinking well. Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or www.JamesFamilyCellars.com