Who doesn’t love pork pies? They are little parcels of porky, pastry loveliness and some of the best around are made by local pork pie specialist Jake’s Artisan Foods. I first managed to get my hands on some of Jake’s Pork Pies at the 2014 Vineyards of Hampshire Festival at Jenkyn Place near Bentley. This year the 2015 Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival was held at Hambledon Vineyard and I knew I had to make a bee-line for some of Jake’s Pork Pies as soon as I got there, because they always sell out very quickly. Jon Kaye is the man behind the pies, an ex-journalist who started out making pork pies as a hobby 6 or 7 years ago. He is based near Petersfield and went full-time in 2013. I highly recommend looking out for his pies at one of the many farmers markets he regularly attends. Visit his website for a list of venues and dates.
What makes Jake’s Pork Pies so special? Well, everything is done by hand from butchering free-range pork shoulder, grinding spices and seasoning, making the hot water crust pasty, hand-raising the pies and adding (homemade) jelly. As someone who has recently made some pork pies, I know what a time consuming process this all is and the fact that this is all done by hand is amazing. And then you have to get the seasoning right! Jake’s Pork Pies are made with coarsely chopped pork, the seasoning is spot on (I am guessing salt, pepper, some mace or nutmeg and no doubt some secret ingredient!) and the pastry has just the right amount of crispness and flakiness. The filling is flavoursome, porky and succulent with a generous amount of jelly helping to keep it moist, but not too much which I don’t like (but that’s a personal thing).
Jon and I swapped a few emails and he suggested that I should make some suggestions for matching wine with pork pie, which I thought was a very good idea! In terms of matching wine with pork pie I think it is best not to think of pork as a white meat but think of these as something a bit richer. The main ingredients are of, of course, pork and pastry, and they do have quite a high fat content (but not in a bad way!). Considering the fat content of the pork pie, and this applies to pork in general, one needs to aim for a white wine with good acidity to cut through the fat content or a red wine low in tannin, also with good acidity, as tannins tend to clash with fat.
There are two options here, one can either try a fresh and racy white wine to cut through the fat or a fuller, richer wine to complement the richness of flavours. For a fresher style I would perhaps suggest a riesling. Riesling comes in many different styles and they make excellent food wines. A drier, mineral style of Riesling from the Mosel would be a good match and I would recommend something like Dr Loosen Red Slate Dry Riesling. This is a fuller, yet dry, style of Riesling with floral, blossom aromas and flavours of peach, pear and honey on the palate. Importantly it has very good, well-balanced acidity to cut through any fattiness. A good alternative wine match with Pork Pie would be a fresh, zingy wine like the Trapiche Estacion 1883 Torrontes from Mendoza, Argentina with its grapefruit / citrus acidity and grape-y flavours.
As a fuller style of white wine, a good Chardonnay with a nice bit of oak would be a good wine match with Pork Pie. Rather than trying to cut through the fat, it is more about complementing the creamy, buttery character of the pork and pastry. My choice for this would be a rich, buttery barrel-aged Chardonnay such as the Louis Latour Grande Ardeche Chardonnay. This is a Burgundian-style wine made by a Burgundy negociant but in vineyards in the Ardeche, to the west of the Rhone valley. It is a full-bodied, rich white wine with aromas of tropical fruit, toasty oak notes and a full-bodied palate with pear and nutty flavours to complement the richness of a good pork pie. A good alternative to a white Burgundy at a bargain price. However, any good Chardonnay with a dollop of oak should do the trick!
As mentioned above, a matching a red wine with pork pie requires a fruity wine with low tannins and good acidity. Think of some of the traditional natural matches for Charcuterie and cold meats like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, lighter Cote du Rhone or Bordeaux which all fit this profile. There are, of course, plenty of other alternatives from elsewhere around the world but I think it would be best to avoid the sweeter, jammier chewy styles. Unless this is what you like! Food / wine matching is ultimately a personal preference! As a traditional wine match for pork pie you won’t go much wrong with a Beaujolais and I would recommend Brouilly. This Gamay has plenty of raspberry, floral aromas and flavours with a soft, round and lively finish with nice acidity. Don’t be afraid to pop lighter, fruitier wines such as this in the fridge for 20 minutes or so in the hot, summer months. A good alternative to this would be a juicy, soft Valpolicella and the Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico with its violet, mint, cherry flavours and low acidity would be a great match.
One other wine match that springs to mind for pork pie would be a Sherry or Madeira, not the sweeter styles, but something dry(ish) with a bit of richness. For a Sherry look for a dry Amontillado or a dry Oloroso such as the Don Jose Oloroso from Sanchez Romate. This is rich with walnut, spicy, okay flavours but has a dry finish and good acidity and will be a great wine match for pork pie without being overpowering.
Don’t be afraid to experiment!