Wine Pairing Picks: Tomatoes

Beer and Wine, Drinks, Featured Article, How-To, Wine 101
on August 4, 2011
Mark Boughton/styling: Teresa Blackburn

Perched on top of bruschetta, tossed in panzanella or artfully arranged on a Niçoise or caprese salad platter, fresh, uncooked tomatoes will never taste better than now, at their homegrown, in-season best. Yet the very things we love about them—those green, grassy-vegetal aromas, that mouthwatering acidity—can undermine a wine pairing.

A Bright Italian White
Four white grape varieties of them make their way into Villa Antinori Bianco 2008 (Toscana; $13), a fresh and floral, citrusy white. Its soft side will keep it from getting into a slugging match with your tomato’s feisty side.

Sancerre-ly Yours
Sauvignon Blancs often make their way to the table alongside fresh tomatoes; however, to avoid an all-out zest-fest, try wines from Sancerre, a sub-region of France’s Loire Valley. Sancerre is usually imported in small quantities; ask your local wine merchant to point you to a specific label ($20 to $25).

A Red That Works
White wines generally go better with fresh tomatoes than reds, but if you crave a red, choose a medium-bodied one that’s fruity and easy on the tannins. Even better, consider a red that can handle a wee bit of chill. Try Fleurie, made from the Gamay grape in France’s Beaujolais region. Look for Fleurie at around $15—ask a wine merchant to recommend a label.  

—By Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist