Every once in awhile, you come across a wine and food pairing that surprisingly just makes sense. I wasn’t planning to have wine this evening. I was preparing the traditional Szechuan dish Ma-Po Tofu, which, with its spicy bean sauce and lip and tongue numbing Szechuan peppercorns doesn’t exactly scream “pair me with wine!” However, part of the recipe required a tablespoon of rice wine, which I didn’t have on hand, so I substituted a splash of the Picpoul Blanc I had open in my fridge. Picpoul Blanc, a white variety most commonly found in the Languedoc and southern Rhône regions of France, is known locally as “lipstinger” for its high acidity and citrus characteristics. The wine on hand was actually a domestic version of the obscure old world variety–Bokisch Vineyard’s Tizona Picpoul Blanc, grown in the family’s Terra Alta vineyard in the Clements Hills region of Lodi. Coming from the Central Valley of California, the wine wasn’t quite as lip-stinging as its French counterparts, but was lively and fresh and with its lemon blossom and stone fruit palate, and it actually complemented the lip-numbing effects of the Szechuan peppercorns in the Ma-Po Tofu. While Picpoul and Ma-Po Tofu may not be an obvious choice, it is sure to put a smile on anyone’s lips!