Challenging Wine Pairing: Grilled Pork Chops

By LaGayle ~ March 16th, 2010.

While my family and I do not eat much pork, we do enjoy it on occasion. As I started planning another challenging wine pairing meal, I remembered the garlic seasoned broiled pork chops that my aunt used to make. I cannot remember the last time that I had a pork chop, but the more I thought about it, the more I craved them. I find it interesting that I mention that we don’t eat a lot of pork, yet this is the second meal in this series that has included pork. Oh, well, I guess this series has given us a reason to splurge.

The day was beautiful, which is not always the case at this time of year in Seattle, so I decided to take advantage of the great weather and cook outside on the grill. As I began planning the menu and thinking about those garlic flavored pork chops, I decided to plan around a somewhat Italian-seasoned meal. The menu included salad made with hearts of romaine, garlic seasoned grilled pork chops, roasted garlic zucchini and tomatoes, and pesto spaetzle. Now, the spaetzle is a German egg noodle, but it was seasoned with pesto so I thought, “Why not?”

Again, I referred to my favorite book, What to Drink with What You Eat, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page and decided to try a Pinot Grigio and a Zinfandel. I headed to a local wine shop with the intention of buying an Italian Pinot Grigio to go with our Italian-themed meal and a Washington State Zinfandel since we love to feature Washington State wines. I ended up selecting the 2008 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio and the 2008 The Pines 1852 Old Vine Zinfandel, which it turns out is actually an Oregon wine.

When I arrived at the shop, I asked the shopkeeper for directions to the Washington Zinfandel section, and once I was there I found the The Pines Old Vine Zinfandel. I specifically asked about it being in the Washington section since the label indicated it was an Oregon winery.  I was told that the winery is in Oregon, but that the vineyard is in Washington in the Columbia Valley. Upon returning home and doing some research, I discovered that the vineyard is located in the Columbia Valley of Oregon. So, we had an Oregon Zinfandel rather than one from Washington. Disappointing to not get what I was expecting, but the wine does come with a good story and even an Italian connection. The Pines Vineyard is one of the oldest in the Northwest and was planted by an Italian stone mason in the late 1800’s.

While we enjoyed both wines, the unanimous choice as to which paired best with the pork chops was the Zinfandel; although, we all agreed that, on its own, we preferred the Pinot Grigio.

Bon Appétit!

2008 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGT (Alto Adige, Italy): Greenish straw yellow in color. Pears and hay come through on the nose; more pears on the palate. Medium-bodied and crisp with a long finish. A slight fizz on the back end. A refreshing sipper.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle), $13.99; Available elsewhere, $10 to $18

2008 The Pines 1852 Old Vine Zinfandel (The Pines Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Oregon): Deep ruby red in color. Aromas of butter, buttered popcorn, oak, and cinnamon lead to flavors of red fruits and cocoa. Good fruit but not overly fruity. Medium-bodied and lively with medium, very drying tannins and a long finish. A bit of heat on the back end.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle), $38.99; Available elsewhere, $39

Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Food & Wine, Italian Wine, Oregon Wine, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25, Zinfandel

Reader's Comments

  1. DailyPour | March 16th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Love the idea of difficult parings. I would have choose a full bodied white like Roussanne and lighter acidic red like Cab franc, but you seemed successful with this endeavor.

  2. Kori | March 16th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Glad to hear you are enjoying this series. Thanks for the great pairing suggestions. We’ll keep them in mind the next time we have pork chops. Cheers!