20 Mar2011

Lechon & Verdicchio

by Marketman

A revelation. A little known Italian grape variety called Verdicchio, produced a wonderful wine that paired beautifully with a freshly roasted lechon… We have always wondered about possible pairings of wine and lechon, but haven’t really indulged in a taste test. Instinct might point to a light red, maybe a rioja or chianti to approximate the pairings that might exist in Spain and Italy with variations of roast pork… Or one might go for a sweeter, crisper or lighter white wine instead, say a chardonnay. A rose seems to make sense as well. I am not knowledgeable enough with respect to wines to have any real intelligent discussion about the pairings.. the best I can do is tell you if I like the pairing or not… :)

But the moment I took a sip of this Verdicchio, chilled, along with a square inch of lechon skin, a bright lightbulb went off over my head. Great choice, surprising pairing, and something I would have never thought of myself! This blog, The Italian Cellar, describes the bottle as, and I quote :

“The wine is 100% Verdicchio and has a beautiful golden yellow color with slight green highlights. Full nose of ripe citrus. Crisp acidity with a weighty mouth feel brought about by the delayed harvesting of the grapes. High-toned finish. Aged in stainless steel for 15 months. Terrific.”

Even a quick glance at the book “What to Drink with What you Eat” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page doesn’t even suggest a Verdicchio with pork; in fact, their section on Verdicchio leans toward perfect pairings with vegetables, seafoods, creamy pastas, etc. From what I understand, this is a modest to medium priced bottle of wine, PHP1,100 at Bacchus outlets. The wine was acidic but fruity, and balanced the fat and salt on the lechon skin. Some vintages of the wine have not been received well by the “experts”, but for me, the 2004 vintage was great value and a terrific match for lechon. Will have to stock a few bottles of it for the next time we indulge in a lechon and wine dinner… :)



  1. bearhug0127 says:

    I don’t know much about wines, so I’ll skip on commenting about the wine but then again, I learned something new again from your post, MM. I’d leave that to the experts and I would just say, MM, thanks for sharing. I’ll try the pairing if and when I’ll have the opportunity.

    Mar 20, 2011 | 4:49 am


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  3. socky says:

    Thanks for this post on the Verdicchio. It’s always exciting to find a wine that pairs beautifully with our beloved lechon.

    Mar 20, 2011 | 5:43 am

  4. Marketman says:

    socky, good to hear from you, and up at the wee hours of the morning like myself as well. I have to say, this pairing was a pleasant, pleasant surprise! The only thing that would kill it is the high acidity of kinilaw or a side salad with lots of vinegar. But purely with the skin and meat, heavenly. :)

    Mar 20, 2011 | 5:45 am

  5. jdawgg says:

    Yo Marketman,

    I’m not a wine expert per say but, for everyday meal with lechon. My ten cents say a Pinot Grigio of Chardonnay would do the trick. Now, for special occasions perhaps, I would suggest Chianti or a Merlot is just right for roasted pig. That’s all I know, let’s see what the other readers think, Thanks Marketman.

    Mar 20, 2011 | 6:11 am

  6. josephine says:

    I’m sure that was great, but if you can find them, try Iruleguy or Txakoli from the Basque country. They eat a lot of pork in all sorts of ways over there, and these very unusual whites go fantastically with it. Serve well chilled – I love red but find it hard to drink it when I’m back in the Phils, just too hot.

    Mar 20, 2011 | 6:13 am

  7. Rob says:

    Sounds like a reasonable choice MM.

    “Crisp acidity with a weighty mouth…”
    In Spain, a wine with some acidity is the usual pairing (“maridaje”) with cochinillo as this aids in cutting any greasiness the dish might have. ¬°Buen provecho!

    Mar 20, 2011 | 10:38 am

  8. Nadia says:

    Good morning MM. Where in Manila can I buy the Podium Verdicchio? With all the lechon we eat here in Dumaguete, it’s good to stock up on these things :)

    Mar 20, 2011 | 10:49 am

  9. monique ignacio says:

    I can’t wait to try this. It seems to make sense to pair Verdicchio with the garlicky, salty taste of Cebu Lechon!

    Mar 20, 2011 | 4:21 pm

  10. Jack Congson says:

    The key in this wine pairing is that pork fat does not go well with wines with strong tannins. For reds, my choice would be a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir and for whites a Reisling or a Chardonnay. All four have a fruity citrusy taste that goes well with pork and all four are readily available and cheap.

    Mar 20, 2011 | 8:26 pm

  11. fried-neurons says:

    I never would have guessed this one, because I’ve never heard of the grape.

    Cool. Ya learn something new every day. :)

    Mar 20, 2011 | 11:18 pm

  12. Roberto C. Vicencio says:

    Somewhere in the deep recesses of my noggin, a memory was retained that said Italy had more grape for wine varieties that France. France is the traditionalists go to for wines but it was said that Italy should not be ignored as she produces quite a lot of quality wines too. Is that true? Or does France have a lock on wines because of the controlee and other neubulous rules the French have concocted?

    Mar 21, 2011 | 1:17 pm

  13. ariel says:

    Hello, Marketman. I’m a member of the Wine and Spirits Club Philippines. I’ve never tried a verdicchio before, but based on the tasting notes you posted, it looks like a good match. I suppose dry rieslings and some Champagnes will also work.

    Mar 21, 2011 | 4:44 pm

  14. tonceq says:

    Ditto to MM, though I probably have less knowledge about wine pairings than you do.. all I know is that you should use fruity (heard it was a sin to call wine “sweet”) wines with sweet types of food like chocolates and fruits and acidic and bitter(?) wines for meat and the like… though i just read that somewhere! Thanks for sharing the knowledge MM! :)

    Mar 21, 2011 | 9:01 pm

  15. Footloose says:

    Fazi Battaglia is the commonest verdicchio that liquor boards carry here (in Ontario). Quite affordable too and comes in a distinctive elongated shapely smooth green coca-cola 3/4 and 1-1/2 liter bottles. I can identify them correctly even when gift-wrapped as dinner guests bearing them trudge through the front gate. Now I can nudge them to bring along with them lechon too.

    Mar 22, 2011 | 1:50 am

  16. Footloose says:

    Since roast pork is usually served with apple sauce here, my first thought was any apple-based drink such as soft or hard cider or even Calvados would not all be too off the mark.

    Mar 22, 2011 | 2:03 am

  17. kurzhaar says:

    Interesting post as wine is a serious hobby in our household and we run several tastings and pairings each year.

    There are some general guidelines that others have already mentioned, but as for a wine recommendation, I will first say that a good wine is one you enjoy–and you will only know what you enjoy by going out and tasting. Everyone’s tastes are different and evolve with exposure to more/different wines. For example, I for one am not a fan of chardonnays in general…that doesn’t make it a bad grape, but it does make me the wrong person to ask if a chard recommendation is what you’re looking for (on the other hand, I’m happy to talk about Bordeaux, Nebbiolos, pinot noirs!).

    For the roast pork pairing in question, I would look at the seasoning and accompaniments as well as the meat. I would not recommend the Verdicchio myself if it were to be the sole wine for the dinner and you also served acidic salads. Nor would I suggest a typical Chardonnay. Some have mentioned dry Rieslings and I agree that they could serve quite well, as could Champagne or a cremant d’Alsace, or if you want something REALLY fun and likely new to guests, a Brachetto d’Acqui–I can tell you from experience that a Brachetto on the more robust side is an excellent pairing with roast pork and it will not break the bank.

    There are many more things to drink than diet sodas, Marketman! :)

    Mar 22, 2011 | 6:50 am

  18. kurzhaar says:

    I agree, hard cider would probably be very good. But Calvados is a little high proof to be quaffing with dinner, n’est-ce pas?

    Mar 22, 2011 | 9:44 am

  19. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, the white was served only with the skin or crackling. Several bottles of red followed for the main meal. But yes, in general acidic dressings will not do well with the wines, hence the reason many Filipino meals are not served with wine…

    Mar 23, 2011 | 11:46 am

  20. Marketman says:

    Here, the jist of a text from the wine guys who brought the Verdicchio…

    “…when choosing the wines for the lechon dinner, our second choice was a pinot grigio which was mentioned by one of your readers. A chardonnay would have worked, but that would have been too easy. A riesling or sauvignon blanc would NOT have worked in our opinion because it does not have enough body to counter the saltiness of the lechon skin. “

    Mar 23, 2011 | 1:11 pm

  21. kurzhaar says:

    Ah, more (and crucial) information. :) I was thinking of roast pork as the meat, not crackling.

    If matching the wine solely with (salty? spicy?) crackling, I still would not have chosen a chardonnay–unless perhaps a more minerally Chablis (or Champagne). Some of the other picks still hold–a cremant d’Alsace would be fun, but scratch the brachetto for serving with just crackling.

    I will have to disagree with your friends on the Rieslings. There are many excellent, very full-bodied examples out there from the Alsace, Austria, and Germany, and a dry Riesling is a classic accompaniment to pork (including fatty cuts such as pork belly). Most Rieslings of this quality are not inexpensive though, and unfortunately at least in the US can be harder to locate as many people think Riesling is a sweet wine.

    I dithered on a Gewurtztraminer but without knowing the seasoning on the pork crackling will pass on this as a match.

    A dry hard cider as someone else mentioned would still be a good match. As would a nice dry fino or manzanilla sherry, well chilled, which can cope with both fat and salt in food. We drink a fair amount of sherry in our home and think it is an underappreciated wine.

    As for the meaty portion of a roast porker, at home we would probably go to a red…depending on what else was being served, perhaps a nebbiolo or pinot noir.

    Mar 24, 2011 | 12:13 pm


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