December 6, 2022

Cork and Pork: The Perfect Wine Pairing for All Kinds of Meat

Great food and drink are a match made in heaven. But understanding the complexities of flavor combination is much harder than it looks. Beverages are paired with meat for their delicately nuanced levels of sweetness, acidity, and subtle notes of flavor and fragrance.

To make the most of any meal, you need to pair it with the right beverage. With a glass of wine that perfectly complements a dish’s flavor profile, any meal can go from ordinary to extraordinary. Like magic, the acidity, sweetness, dryness, or richness alchemizes to produce something truly delicious and memorable.

But pairing the right meat with the right wine is not as simple as many people think. It takes know-how, experience, and a little bit of practice to get it right. To get you started, we’ve paired the most popular meats with their ideal beverages so you can plate a truly extraordinary meal:

Food & wine pairing

Red Meat Wine Pairings

A staple in almost every restaurant that caters to carnivores, red meat’s rich and often gamey profile is typically best paired with a robust drink that holds its own.


Due to its depth of flavor and relatively high fat content, beef is best paired with earthy, brawny red wines that can contend with the richness of this meat. Especially so in the case of a fattier prime cut or richly marbled wagyu. Due to their bold, smoky overtones, tannin-rich vintage wines such as Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah are some of the best pairings for beef, whether it’s done on the BBQ, in a pan, or reverse seared in the oven. Avoid drinks that are too sweet or fruity, as they may overpower the flavor of the meat.


Similar to beef, as it’s relatively high in fat, lamb is best paired with darker red wines. A Shiraz, Chianti, Pinot Noir, or even a Bordeaux blend would make excellent companions to a succulent lamb dish. If the meal isn’t too heavy, you can also pair lamb with a full-bodied white Chardonnay.


Despite its lighter color when cooked, pork is classified as red meat, as it has a higher myoglobin content than chicken or fish. However, aside from pork belly and bacon, pork is lower in fat than beef or lamb, and chefs often marinate the meat to ensure it doesn’t dry out when cooking.

Juicy red wine and pork is a classic combo, with sweeter, plummy varieties like Syrah and Pinot Noir being frequent favorites. However, if the pork is particularly rich, pairing it with a lively white can be equally delicious. Think juicy Chenin Blanc, Riesling, or even a fruity Rosé.

Poultry Wine Pairings

Poultry meat is mostly white, soft, and low in fat. This makes it an ideal companion for daintier drinks that can match the level of lightness.


A tender piece of chicken pairs excellently with woody white wines such as Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. All of them have common ground: zesty, floral notes and a light, bright finish on the palate. Any mild white wine that’s matured in oak is typically a good companion to white and brown chicken meat.


Due to its similarity to chicken, turkey also pairs well with oaky white wines such as Chardonnay and Riesling. However, you wouldn’t go amiss with a low-tannin red wine like Pinot Noir, or even a chilled Rosé if you’re serving some of the darker meat of the bird.


What separates duck from other poultry is its fat content. This makes for a richer, more indulgent meat that can handle the intensity of certain red wines while still complementing a fresh white.

Tuscan reds like Chianti, Marcillac, and Barolo are all robust enough to pair perfectly with roasted duck without overpowering it. Deeper reds like Merlot and Pinot Noir can harmonize with the rich sweetness of duck, while late harvest Riesling makes a great white option.

Seafood Wine Pairings

When people think of pairing wine with seafood, their minds usually go straight to light whites. But while the fresh, citrusy, and sometimes floral notes of white wine do make excellent partners to fish, the options aren’t quite as limited as you’d think.

Seafood with wine


There are too many species of fish in the sea to make a wine listing for each, but we can go through some of the most popular choices that have greater availability. Light, flaky fish like hake, cod, or sea bass are best paired with similarly light and refreshing wines such as Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, and Champagne.

Fatty, dense fishes like tuna, mackerel, and salmon bring a lot of flavor and richness to the table, which allows them to pair well with bolder beverages. Dry Rosé, Pinot Noir, and White Rioja are all popular choices.


Sea-floor dwellers like lobster, crab, prawns, and shrimp all fall into the crustacean category. With distinctive, powerful oceanic flavors and light, sweet flesh, crustaceans require the balance of weighty white wines to do themselves justice.

Viognier, Marsanne, Pinot Gris, and Italian Vermentino are all full-bodied enough to match the deep-sea flavors of this meat without overpowering its delicate texture.


The mollusks or shellfish category includes iconic seafood delicacies, such as oysters, scallops, and clams. These expensive meats are soft, buttery, and very delicate in flavor, so the wines they’re paired with must have similar soft characteristics.

Light, citrusy white wines like Champagne, Muscadet, and Sauvignon Blanc make excellent friends with oysters and scallops, while clams are best matched with dry Rosé or high-acidity Riesling.

Perfecting the Art of Pairing

Chefs around the world have been developing the skill of food and wine pairing for thousands of years. These days, you’ll also find food pairings with beer, gin and other beverages, yet wine remains the most popular. There are so many different wines to try that pairing possibilities remain seemingly endless.

There may be some rules around which drinks pair best with which meats. But at the end of the day, flavor combination is a personal preference. These recommendations are based on food science—acidity, sugar levels, tannins, and so on—however, they aren’t unbreakable laws.

That said, following this guide for meat and wine pairing is a great place to start if you’re unsure about what your guests might like best. When in doubt, taste and taste again!

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