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What Goes With Suckling Pig? (December 6, 2001)

Recently I was invited by Erico Tjoe A Long, a wine-loving barrister, to lunch at the Oriental harbour restaurant in Richmond Hill. His other guest was wine importer Scott Wilson (who doubles on French horn for the Toronto Symphony).

The object of the exercise was to find out what wine went best with Suckling Pig prepared Chinese style and served with Hoisin plum sauce.

The maître d' wisely put us in a private room upstairs, since Scott arrived with 11 wines, all of which were on the table.

They were:

  • Rex Hill Oregon White Riesling 1996
  • Amity Pinot Blanc 1998
  • Qupe Chardonnay Bien Nacido Reserve 1999
  • Terzetto Tocai Friulano Central Coast 1998 (a label Scott, his neighbour and Au Bon Climat's winemaker Jim Clendenen produce based on Italian varietals)
  • Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer Carte d'Or 2000
  • St. Innocent Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard 1999 (half bottle)
  • Oak Knoll Pinot Noir Fire Mountain Vineyard 1998
  • Amity Pinot Noir Schouten Vineyard 1999
  • Best's Great Western Bin No.0 Shiraz 1998
  • Waterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (Columbia Valley)
  • Terzetto Teroldego 1998

We tasted all the wines first and then the servers brought in a whole roast pig! The skin was crispy, the meat melted in your mouth.

The ‘problem' with matching this dish to a single wine is that there were three tastes to the pig: the crispy skin with the fatty but delicious flavour, the flesh without the skin and the combination of both with the sweet plum sauce. Pork is quite a sweet meat on its own which suggested that the accompanying wine should have good fruit and low tannins.

The Waterbrook Cabernet failed completely because the meat brought out the oak and tannin and depressed the fruit. Best's Shiraz was a good match but thinned out when taken with the sauce, as did the Teroldego. Of the Pinot Noirs, the Oak Knoll went well with the meat without the skin or sauce; the richer Amity was good with meat and skin but was overpowered by the sauce.

The Rex Hill Riesling was good but a little thin to stand up to the richness of the meat.

The sweetness of the meat brought out the acidity in the massive Qupe Chardonnay, and the Gewürztraminer simply overpowered the dish.

Amity's Pinot Blanc was just too light weight though a refreshing wine as an aperitif; Terzetto Tocai Friulano went quite well with the combination, but the wine that we all preferred was the St. Innocent Pinot Gris with its touch of residual sugar.

And we only had a half a bottle!

 

 

 

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