Two approaches for a smoky-spicy pork entrée show that very different wines can yield perfect matches.
A LIVELY AND FRUITY RED
A light red with an extra dose of acidity can handle both the grilled chops and tangy salsa.
ZEROING IN With its fresh tomatoes and mangoes and tart vinegar, this zesty salsa steamrolls the fruit in most reds, leaving them flat and lifeless. But Burgundy's Beaujolais-Villages, a naturally low-tannin wine made from the gamay grape, is power-packed with enough red berry flavor to stand up to the dish. Its secret weapon is its white wine--like crispness, which squarely takes on the salsa's acidity and allows the fruit to shine through.
1/ Louis Jadot, Beaujolais-Villages, France 2009 ($13)
2/ Georges Duboeuf, Beaujolais-Villages, France 2009 ($10)
3/ Joseph Drouhin, Beaujolais-Villages, France 2009 ($12)
A CRISP, OFF-DRY WHITE
A refreshing, slightly sweet white softens the edges of the salsa and keeps the bold rub from dominating.
ZEROING IN Try a riesling from Washington, where the cool climate produces wines that are well-suited for the global table. The hint of sweetness in these low-octane whites mellows the assertive spices and peppery heat in this jerk-inspired Caribbean dish. Citrus and stone fruit flavors complement the mango.
1/ Charles Smith Wines, Kung Fu Girl, Riesling, Washington 2010 ($12)
2/ Milbrandt, Traditions Riesling, Washington 2009 ($13)
3/ Chateau Ste. Michelle, Riesling, Washington 2010 ($9)
OOPS! Steer clear of tannic, high-alcohol cabernet sauvignons, syrah-based reds, or big, buttery, oaky chardonnays. When these heavyweights clash with the fresh salsa, they have about as much character as their corks.