Wine pairingfor mojo dishcan be tricky

This week I decided to pair wines with one of my favorite dishes: grilled pork and chicken marinated in mojo. Since I have previously always paired it with homemade sangria, my goal was to find a red and a white wine that would each pair well with this dish.

In order to pair wines with a mojo-marinated dish I knew that a typical Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon would not work at all. Instead, I looked to the citrus flavors from a Sauvignon Blanc and the more subdued hues of a Rhone-style blend red which I thought would hold up well. So, I decided to try the dish with the 2007 Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc and the 2006 Red Truck California Red Wine.

The chicken and pork were both marinated for 24 hours in the Publix-brand mojo, which is made locally by the Palmetto Canning Company. This company is owned by Jonathan Greenlaw and produces 14 different products that are bottled under the Publix label. The acidity of the three different citrus products (lemon, orange and grapefruit) that comprise this mojo create a ceviche-like effect, somewhat shortening the normal grilling time. Additionally, the salt in the marinade acts as a brine, allowing the flavors of the spices to permeate the pork and chicken. Based on the texture of the meat, the pork retains more salt than the chicken.

The 2007 Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of 85 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 15 percent Semillon and retails for $12 a bottle. The grapes that were used to produce this blend came from the Rapel Valley in Chile. The wine has sufficient citrus aromas as well as the typical hints of green grass that is so common to Sauvignon Blancs. The citrus flavors of the Sauvignon Blanc were definitely more pronounced after tasting both the chicken and the pork and I thought that this wine truly enhanced the meal.

Although Casa Lapostolle is in Chile, with their main office in the capital city of Santiago, they are French-owned by the proprietors of Grand Marnier. The winery received two major accolades in 2008: Wine Enthusiast named them New World Winery of the Year and Wine Spectator named their 2005 Clos Apalta the No. 1 Wine of the Year. These are remarkable feats for a winery that was only founded in 1994. (The Clos Apalta is a very small production wine that is a blend of Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a small amount of Petite Verdot that is added for both aroma and color. This wine retails for $75 and generally receives excellent ratings.)

The 2006 Red Truck California Red Wine is a blend of Syrah, Petite Syrah and Cabernet Franc with small amounts of Mourvedre and Grenache added to round out the wine. This wine, which retails for $10 a bottle, was medium-bodied and contained hints of chocolate and licorice on the nose, with tastes of cherries and black pepper on the finish. While I enjoyed the flavor of the Red Truck with the chicken, the saltiness of the pork detracted from the flavors of this wine. I would definitely pair this again with mojo-marinated chicken, but would probably not serve it with pork in the future.

Red Truck wine was first produced in 2002 by the founders of Cline Cellars and received its name from a painting of a 1947 Dodge Stake Side made by Sonoma artist Dennis Ziemienski that the Clines had purchased at a charity auction. The Clines sold the winery in 2005 and since then the new owners have added to the number of wines being produced under the Red Truck, White Truck and Pink Truck labels. The winery advertises that their wines are vegan friendly and they also produce a number of organic wines.

Both of these wines are readily available at wine shops and I was able to locate the Red Truck at some grocery stores. I would also note that both of these wines have been very good in the past without respect to the vintage.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at