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Nov 17, 2008 07:48 PM

Pairing for pork cheeks

I am begging for wine pairing assistance with two dishes.

One, a fairly standard white bean soup with bits of duck confit and..
Two, pork cheeks braised in red wine served with a farotto.

These are two courses of the same dinner. The budget calls for $30 or less, per bottle. I'd love something a little obscure and/or unusual.

Thanks to anyone with ideas.

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  1. Where are the usual "wine pairing" suspects when you need them? Shannon is begging!!

    There are folks here with much vaster knowledge than me. I would be thinking barbera - something medium weight, hearty enough to stand up to some fairly big flavors, but with enough acidity to cut through the fattiness of the confit and the pork cheeks. Should be able to find good barberas in that price range too. I recently had a Aldo Seghesio Barbera d'Alba for under $20 that was a very nice bottle esp. for the price.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      Yes, Barbara, another food-friendly wine, mainly due to its nice acidity.

      Sorry, but all of the really obscure oddities that I have come up with usually run at a higher price-point. Barbara should be within the price range, and there are some good domestic, as well as imported (to the US) offerings.

      Reason that I went with PN is that I often find "bacon" elements in many of their flavor profiles. Maybe Maria Lorraine can tell me what that element is, but I hope that she breaks it down into non-scientific terms! [Grin] ML, we love you and you teach us so very much.


      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Interesting, I most often find bacon notes (and analogues like smoke, leather, etc. - analogues in my mind at least) in syrahs, esp. Northern Rhone but occasionally from some well-made CA ones as well, but rarely find them in pinot.

        Let me also throw Cotes Du Rhone into the mix here, I was at a tasting tonight that started w/ the Domaine Andezon CDR (the recently released 2007) which I also think would work for many of the same reasons that I suggested Barbera. This particular wine is under $15.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          I too, find similar elements in Northern Rhônes, but it is more the smokey aspect. Bacon may, or may not be part of it.

          I could easily see a CdR, as well.


      2. re: Frodnesor

        perfect, if a bit tough to find, would be Giacomo Bologna's single vineyard Barbera "Braida".
        he is better known for his excellent Bricco del Ullcione bottling, but this one can be found at about $27 (at least that's what i sold it for)
        think smoke and leather kissed red fruit, just shy of "rustic", but before "polished"

        1. re: jdwdeville

          er, sorry, "Montebruna" is the name of the bottle. too many bottles on the brain....

          1. re: jdwdeville

            The Braida Bricco del Uccellone would be out of OP's price range (though I've had it and yes it's good); the Braida Montebruna (which I've not had) looks to be in range at around $25. It appears to me that "Braida" is a brand name and not a vineyard, i.e. Braida di Giacomo Bologna.

            If you want to sell me some Bricco del Uccellone for $27, please get in touch.

          2. re: jdwdeville

            You mean this beauty that I had the pleasure of enjoying a few weeks ago? :)

            I have to say that this bottle changed my opinion forever about Barberas.

            Sadly, my family tells me that since Giacomo passed away, his daughter is more inclined to making profits as opposed to art.

            We had it with a filet steak, porcini mushrooms and a potato puree infused with parsley and olive oil. Excellent.

            Photo attached.

            1. re: girobike

              My friendly local wine merchant was recently raving to me about the Giacomo Conterno Barbera, perhaps something else for you to look for.

        2. Soup is fairly easy to pair...but what's the recipe for the pork cheeks brasato?
          and the farotto?

          I think we're talking Italian...

          1. For the pork cheeks, and your budget, I'd cook in the Acacia Carneros Pinot Noir, and then serve it.

            With the Acacia's fruit-forward element, it might work for the duck/bean soup too. Were it not for the duck, I'd reach for a Chardonnay. If the duck is a major componet, then maybe a Syrah. One could go with a bigger PN, but probably not in your price-range. Also, many do not like the PN, that think they are Syrahs.

            The Acacia is not unique, nor is it obscure. However, it is very food-friendly.


            1. Let's assume the bean dish is French, from that region a madiran would be perfect. Get one a few years old, around 2002-4.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Morever, let's assume the white bean soup is white wine-ish with just the tiniest hints of something that make it alightly not white wine-ish.

                2 thoughts for the soup: Gavi (the Cortese grape), something bold and round from Friuli.

                As far as the pork cheeks, they are perched between a red wine and a white wine existence and, as such, I need the recipe to dial it in.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  White would be my choice with the soup, too, though I'd probably lean toward one from southwest France, like a Pacherenc du Vic Bihl (Madiran's white) or a Jurançon. That said, the first thought that sprang to my mind was a very dry but rich and caramel/honey- and grass/straw-scented Tocai Friulano from Borgo San Daniele that I tasted a couple of days ago.

                  And, yep, it'd be helpful to know more about the veal cheek recipe. Lacking that knowledge, serving the same wine -- or a better version thereof -- used in the recipe would be the safest recco.

                  1. re: carswell

                    Is that really you, carswell?

                    Lovely to see you....

              2. Hi everyone. I am the OP here with a little recipe update. Here's the white bean soup recipe. The duck will be more of a garnish than a main ingredient.

                And as for the pork cheeks and farotto, I don't really have a specific recipe. I plan to sear the cheeks, then saute a mirepoix, then do a low and slow red wine braise (as if there's any other kind of braise, I guess). The farotto (farro risotto) will have some nuts and maybe dried cherries.

                3 Replies
                1. re: shannoninstlouis

                  Would love to hear Carswell's comments. Even with the generous amounts of duck confit, the soup/stew still strikes me as a rich white wine dish, and the Tocai Friulano sounds good. A Rosé Champagne, or Rosé would also be very nice.

                  The pork cheek brasato: My concern is the red wine. If it is heavy, and if you use a flavorful stock like beef stock, your risk overpowering the flavor of the pork cheeks. Pork cheek recipes often call for white wine as the braising wine -- keeping all the other elements like the mirepoix intact, and using chicken stock as the other liquid. A heavy red, even a rich red, might be overkill. If these were beef cheeks, the red wine would be a sure bet, but pork, hmmm....I think you have to go with a white, Rosé or a frisky light-bodied red as your braising liquid. Any of these would also be nice for drinking with the dish. Are you using any citrus or a touch of tomato in the braise?

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Actually, I was thinking of adding a little gremolata to finish, because I think it may need a little citrusy kick somewhere. Now I am wondering about braising in white instead of red. If that is the way to go, then I think I would add a little tomato somewhere.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      Have to agree about using a white -- or, failing that, a rosé or light red -- for the braising liquid. Besides the overpowering flavours you mention, dark reds often turn white meats an unappetizing colour. Even if a white were used for braising, a supple red would make a fine accompaniment. Gremolata would probably push me into northern Italy: a light Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo/Pinot blend, Teroldego, Valpolicella (especially if there are cherries in the farotto), etc.

                      In the soup, the proportion of duck to beans is quite high, there are plenty of aromatics (including Armagnac) and not a lot of broth. The headnote refers to the dish as evocative of cassoulet. At this point, I'm wondering whether a white, rosé or red wouldn't work, depending on the role you wanted it to play. A white might be a supporting actor, providing welcome relief from the heavyweight lead. A red would get equal billing and provide a raspy contrast to its unctuous co-star. A rosé, especially a rosé champagne, could occupy the middle ground. For a red, I'd chose one of the medium-bodied, fruit-forward wines from the southwest, like you can find in Gaillac and Fronton.