What to DRINK With That – Wood Roasted Suckling Pig


L-R: Daenna van Mulligen, Owen Knowlton, Jay Drysdale

What to DRINK with That – Summer Party

DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. This time we are planning a summer party, and asked the pros what they’d bring.

Our Experts:

Jay Drysdale (JD)
Sommelier, soon to be farmer, Bella Wines
Jay has spent the last 10 years involved with the BC wine industry. After completing his International Sommelier Guild training in 2003 he has run restaurants, wine stores and wineries until he caught the winemaking bug about 4 years ago. Quietly making a barrel here and a barrel there led him to finish the Enology and Viticulture program at Washington State University. About to release his second vintage of Bella Sparkling Wines, he is starting to capture his expression of the local wine scene in a bottle.  You will find him laying roots in Naramata.

Owen Knowlton (OK)
Restaurant Director + Wine Director, West Restaurant + Bar
Owen Knowlton moved from his native Ontario to Lake Louise, Alberta to follow his love of skiing; after joining the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise he quickly became enamored with the hospitality industry and his enthusiasm for wine began to grow. After forging a path through Australian bars, restaurants and wine regions, he landed at Banff’s renowned Rimrock Resort Hotel, where as Maitre’d & Sommelier, he was responsible for developing the highly acclaimed wine collection. Upon arrival in Vancouver, he joined the long established Le Crocodile, as Maitre’d, and now has continued to cement his wine authority at West. As Wine Director, Knowlton nurtures and grows the acclaimed selection adding carefully to the five hundred label list and assisting guests in discovering new food and wine combinations. He was Sommelier of the Year at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, 2011

Daenna Van Mulligen (DVM)
Daenna Van Mulligen is a Vancouver based wine writer and accredited sommelier who is widely recognized via her alter ego WineDiva. Launched in February 2004, WineDiva.ca is now in its tenth year of publishing unpretentious and approachable wine reviews while the more serious WineScores.ca celebrates its sixth. Daenna has traveled to every major winemaking region in the world and is an international wine judge. She is a regular contributor to TASTE Magazine, Vines Magazine and now Flavours Magazine. She can also be heard in BC and Alberta each week on Terry David Mulligan’s radio show, The Tasting Room Radio.

What to DRINK with:

Summer Party MainWood-roasted suckling pig, with salad of charred fava beans (lemon, garlic & tarragon) and mac & cheese.

JD. This is pure comfort food requiring comfort wine.  If the heat of the day has quietly disappeared then a fuller red is in order.  All those wonderful fats and flavours would have me looking for an older Rhone red. Many 2003’s are drinking quite nicely right now with just enough tannins to marry with the richness of the pork and pasta while the aged flavours would play well with the smoke and freshness from the charred fava bean salad.  If this summer party was still embracing the heat of the late afternoon sun I would reach for a lighter and local BC rosé – one with traditional red wine flavours wrapped in a fresh, dry, and slightly chilled version.

OK. Suckling pig is perfect for special summer occasions so you need to pair it with an equally special wine. A wine pairing that will impress is a bottle of Condrieu. Condrieu is an AOC of the Northern Rhone Valley made from Viognier and is one of the finest white wines of the world. It has a delicate nose of peach and fresh flowers followed by a rich full palate that balances the sweetness of the sucking pig. There will be plenty of refreshing acidity to match the fava bean salad and to cut through creamy mac & cheese.

DVM. Whenever I see suckling pig I think of my time in Portugal, specifically in the region of Bairrada, where it is known as Leitão. Immediately the local red wine variety, Baga, springs to mind. I would lean toward a sparkling or a rosé version of this tannic variety myself, but finding Baga is not terribly easy on the west coast (outside of our old friend, Mateus) so another option would be a fruity sparkling Lambrusco from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna. The Lambrusco’s fruitiness and whisper of sweetness on the palate will go head to head with the sweetness of the suckling pig while highlighting the smokiness of the wood-roasting. The bubbles will help cleanse the palate of the fattiness in the young meat. Ditto for the mac & cheese (which I personally prefer made with smoked cheese), the fruitiness would accent the cheese and the frizzante style helps scrape that fat off your palate and prepare you for the next bite.


Dessert: Olive oil ice cream with Meyer lemon bar & meringue filled with pistachio cream

JD. My first choice would be to reach for a locally made eau de vie, probably an aged Italian plum. The ever-so-slight alcohol you would feel would be quickly extinguished by the elegant sugar and cream, while none of the flavours would overpower each other. Otherwise I would look for an older, not too sweet, Vin Santo from Italy.  With just enough sweetness in the wine, the focus would stay on the savoury elements of this desert like the olive oil and nuts and still stand up to the richness from the creams.

OK. A delicious wine pairing that may be off the beaten path is a Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos. This beautiful dessert wine from Hungary is full with honey and nut flavors to complement the pistachio and it has enough sweetness to meet and beat the Meyer lemon bar.

DVM. This dish sounds divine and immediately transports me to the Mediterranean. Although a Riesling icewine will do in a pinch I’d go one step further and grab a decadent Sauternes from Bordeaux. Made from a combination of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, these wines are made from raisined grapes and offer a sweetness and complexity rarely seen in other dessert wines. The citrus and herbal character will frolic with the creamy olive oil and Meyer lemon while the sweet honeyed apricot and vague nutty flavours will match the meringue and pistachio cream for sweetness. Luckily the acidity in these wines helps balance their sweet temperament and won’t have you headed for complete sugar shock with the pairing.



Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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