I don’t know about you, but this month I’m harvesting a bumper crop of tomatoes! I planted two plants back in late May, one a Marzano variety, great for sauce making and a Beef Steak type for amazing raw eating. Our summer here in Edmonton has been very hot and dry, so I’ve fed and watered these plants lovingly all season.
My tender loving care has certainly paid off! We are really enjoying tasty treats like BLT’s on a Sunday morning complimented with fresh basil, Tomato Bocconcini salads, Greek salads with added fresh oregano, and the Marzanos have produced the best fresh tomato sauce ever! I still have lots to use and pick so I’m looking forward to roasting some until gooey, spreading on toasted baguettes slathered in goat cheese and fresh herbs for a yummy appetizer.
But tomatoes can be really tricky to pair with wine. Raw, they jewel up a green salad with a vinaigrette dressing, but these elements can overpower even the most acidic wine variety. Cooked, as we know from gorgeous Italian pasta sauces, they pair with a standard Italian Chianti. But how can we dazzle ourselves and enhance our summer meals to find that match made in heaven?
Logic tells me to think about where tomatoes are grown. Not from my measly plants in my backyard in Edmonton! But those exotic sunny warm Mediterranean countries where the tomato is Queen.
Italy is dominant when it comes to tomatoes in cuisine and even a simple Margarita pizza served with a refreshing chilled Lambrusco on a hot afternoon is a perfect late lunch or snack. Spaghetti Bolognaise oozing with fragrant tomatoes and subtly spiced meat is magic with a robust Chianti Classico.
A delightful new pairing I’ve discovered with that little appetizer I mentioned previously, is a popular combination at trendy alfresco restaurants in France’s Provence Region, also located along the Mediterranean. Gently roasted tomatoes in olive oil, salt, garlic, and basil spread on hunks of baguette with goat cheese slathered on them is perfect accompanied by a chilled dry Provence Rose. The acidity and delicate flavours of the wine are a perfect foil for this simple repast.
Keeping with our French wine theme, if you prefer a red wine, try a Rhone style blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. Your palate will delight with the many nuances and flavours that erupt when paired with roasted or sauced tomatoes.
So, while we may not be able to go to Italy or France just yet, we can travel there in our dreams and with our tastebuds. Even if you don’t grow your own tomatoes, pick up a variety of ripe ones from the market and discover your own favourite dishes with some new wine pairings from your local Wine shop.