Whenever I visit my mother in Reno, I always take advantage of her palatial kitchen (which is about as big as my studio apartment) to make her favorite dish: pork tenderloin. I never buy any specific spices for the pork, I just empty out the spice rack and create a new rub each time. The most recent rub included: salt and pepper (duh), pasilla chile powder, garlic powder, paprika, and Italian seasoning. And maybe a few other things that I cannot recall. I do not measure the spices nor know how the flavors will work together but, luckily, pork tenderloin is a pretty blank canvas that can take a lot of seasoning. I started by searing the tenderloin in a pan. To get the pork ready to finish in the oven, I sliced up some apple and onion to make a bed for it on the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Hmm...maybe I should add some liquid? Why not pour in a little Old Rasputin Imperial Stout from the bottle I was enjoying to help keep the pork moist? When it was time to take it out of the oven I let it rest, sliced it, and served a reduction of the beer with the apples and onions on top.
Now what wine do you drink with a pork tenderloin with a motley spice rub and an apple/onion/stout sauce? It called for some Spanish Garnacha (aka Grenache). Something about Grenache, with it's rich body, peppery/spicy notes, and low tannin make it work with just about anything from chicken to pork and even beef. And Spanish Grenache, like the old-vine Las Rocas, also has loads of fruit that compliments all kinds of disparate savory ingredients. I think the only red as versatile would be Cotes-du-Rhone, which is not surprising as it is usually Grenache-based. But I find the Spanish examples usually ramp up the fruit, which really ties everything together.
So how do you go about creating a spice rub? The everybody-in-the-pool technique or is there more of a method to your madness?
Jameson Fink is a wine buyer at a bustling grocery store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. He moved to Seattle from Chicago (where he dabbled in the restaurant and wine industries) five years ago to pursue a full-time career in wine. He’d rather be drinking Champagne and eating popcorn right now.