Pairing Wine With Carnitas

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Carnitas is a delicious, slow-cooked pulled pork featuring Mexican spices. It is often eaten in a taco, with various other condiments, like lime, cilantro and sour cream. There are usually a lot of flavors happening simultaneously with carnitas – soft, savory meat, tart citrus, and some amount of heat. For a wine pairing, you’re generally going to be looking for something flavorful and light, a wine that can embellish the taste of carnitas without overpowering it. 

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Carnitas

CharacteristicDetail
SweetnessDry
AcidityBalanced-High
TanninsSmooth – Medium
BodyLight
Tasting NotesBright citrus or red fruits. Light & refreshing with earthy notes.

With carnitas, you want to find a wine that can match the acidity found in carnitas’ condiments, while still maintaining an earthiness that mirrors the pork itself. You can find these elements in a variety of red, white, or even sparkling wines. 

Best Red Wine To Drink With Carnitas

To pair red wines with carnitas, consider some lighter-bodied, fruity reds. You want something with bite, that is able to cut through the spice and citrus flavors of a plate of carnitas, with its typical lime wedge and cilantro toppings. Pinot Noir is a perfect choice, but we will also look at some alternative options. 

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is very low in tannins, as far as red wines go, and is ideal for complementing savory yet spicy pork. Its dark red fruits and earthy notes match well with Mexican spices, and it is also acidic and incisive enough to stand up to any toppings that traditionally go with carnitas. Pinot Noir is light in body, won’t overpower the food, and on the whole, it is an excellent wine for sipping and eating. As we will mention later, a sparkling rosé blend with a percentage of Pinot Noir is also worth looking out for. 

Grenache

Grenache is another brightly acidic wine, and if you want something slightly more juicy and round to go with your carnitas, it’s a great option. It’s more filling than Pinot Noir and can contain some meaty notes, so it qualifies as good company for succulent and spicy meats. 

Tempranillo

Tempranillo is a safe bet for any Mexican and Spanish food. A quality Tempranillo will have  savory and smoke flavors, which sometimes obscure its ripe fruit. This Spanish red also typically features peppery spices. These flavors would all pair wonderfully with some slow-cooked pork. 

Best White Wine To Drink With Carnitas

As mentioned above, when you’re looking for a pairing for carnitas, you probably want something that is down to earth, but still bright and refreshing. White wines are more of a traditional pairing for pork, and there are several varietals which fit that bill. 

Sauvignon Blanc

In the search for Sauvignon Blanc, you have a couple of options. French Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from Bordeaux, is the more elegant option – its acidity can be slightly muted, and it is soft and sippable. Otherwise, you can go for a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. These are almost always going to be vibrant and full of citrus, a pleasant contrast for savory pork. They can also contain grapefruit and hints of greenery, which will match well with any toppings you might include with your carnitas. Either option is fantastic. 

Torrontes

This is a more extreme option, but the intense, crisp acidity of an Argentinian Torrontes can contrast wonderfully with a plate of carnitas. When we think of Mexican food, we often think of a cold beer with a slice of lime. This white wine can provide something akin to that. 

Sparkling Brut Rosé

Since a light, refreshing wine is the way to go with carnitas, sparkling wines are also worth taking a look at. Think about a dry, citrussy option, such as a Brut. For extra pairing points, you can also look for a fruity sparkling rosé, made with small quantities of Pinot Noir. Sparkling wine is fun and is bound to enhance any delicious carnitas dish. 

Best Wine To Drink With Carnitas

Whether you’re eating spicy carnitas with rice, or in a taco with a multitude of condiments, you can’t go wrong with a light-bodied, crisp wine. Some savory and earthy elements are also desirable, but in the end, the choice is yours. These are the best options for carnitas:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Sparkling Brut Rosé
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Grenache
  • Tempranillo
  • Torrontes

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