The Challenges of Tomatoes & Wine

Pairing wine with food is always an act of balancing acidity, fat, sweetness, saltiness, and texture. With tomatoes can be challenging, but it is definitely not impossible. Whether you serve your tomatoes straight off the vine, in a salad, off the grill, in a sauce, or on a pizza, there’s a wine for you to create that perfect pairing.

When adding wine to this already perfect equation, you don’t want to overpower the fruity nuances with a heavy, tannic wine. In other words, save your full-bodied red wine for later and reach for a crisp, dry, acidic white, rosé, light red, or even a sparkling wine.

If you pair a tomato with a full-bodied, lower-acid wine like a Chardonnay, the wine will loose any pronounced flavours and come across flat. What you’re looking for is a hand-in-hand, balanced match that let`s each component shine through.

Guidelines When Pairing Wine with Tomatoes

1. Consider the food preparation or cooking style. Fresh, raw tomatoes are usually higher in acidity and require a wine with a similar profile. Cooking tomatoes actually lowers their acidity a little and can allow for a broader selection of wines, including some lighter red varieties.

2. Choose white wines that are lean, crisp, and vibrantly acidic. Higher acid wines pair well with tomatoes’ acidity. Try avoiding wines with lower acidity or heavy oak ageing. Look for Sancerre, Soave Classico, Falanghina, Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja Blanco, or Albarino.

3. Avoid heavy, tannic reds. Excessively heavy or tannic wines can overpower the tomato’s fruitiness. Look for fruity, refreshing reds that are light to medium in body. Barbera, Dolcetto, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Grenache, are food-loving reds to look for.

4. Keep rosé and sparkling wines in mind. Rosé provides a bit more body, while preserving acidity. Plus, it’s hot outside, and this chilled wine, fits the bill for a heftier preparation. I find that pairing sparkling rosé wine with a chilled caprese salad proves an impeccable match.

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