For the whole year, I wait for sweet, juicy tomatoes. Roughly chopped, mixed in a bowl with a pinch of sea salt flakes and highest quality olive oil. I also take a slice of freshly baked, handmade wholegrain bread. That’s how I celebrate the start to one of my favourite seasons – the Indian summer. The last thing to make me incredibly happy is wine. However, tomatoes and wine are a bit challenging. Beautiful but complicated relationship.
Tomatoes are like love – they can taste in different ways. Dried, baked, fresh, boiled, cold or warm, tomatoes – all these varieties smell and taste amazing but what it means, is that different wine is needed to be the icing on the cake. And if you want to create something more than just the advertising description such as „great with salad” or „perfect with meat”, you need to use imagination.
Let’s try with a simple salad. It exposes the main characteristic of the tomato – its acidity. It means that we will be looking for a fresh white wine. Young gruner veltliner, New Zealand sauvignon blanc or vino verde would be the best choice. If you’re thinking about mixing sweet, ripe tomato e.g. beefsteak with mozzarella di buffalo or burrata choose something smooth but well structured, like African chenin blanc, roussanne, and maryanne from Côtes du Rhône or lightly sucre riesling.
Boiled tomato will be less acidic and sweeter. If you want to serve simple spaghetti with a few drops of olive oil and parmesan the best choice is heavily fruity, acid red wines. Open a bottle of sangiovese, gamay or lack of barrel barbera. You can also think about light zweigelt from Burgerland. If you add a meat to your tomato sauce you can choose from deeper red wines with a little sweetness like zinfandel or primitivo or something more subtle – juicy blaufrankisch or langvedoc or rhonese ganache with a smell of herbs.
What about pizza? Have you ever thought about lambrusco? I know, I know, it’s not an obvious choice, but lambrusco is fresh, with a consistent structure, fruity and spicy.
Last but not least – dried tomatoes. They have a very intense taste which means that they will be a great pairing with rape, fruity and herbal aromas, lightly salty wines from south France -Côtes du Rhône, Langvedoc, Provance. You can also choose older, ripe and smooth rose with a mushroom and soya taste or something form Italy like lighter Sicilian wines – juicy, fruity but earthy and mineral nerello mascalese and frappato.
There is one more wine which will be great with fresh tomato salad, pizza, gazpacho, spaghetti bolognese or even with a roast beef and dried tomato sandwich. That’s champagne rose – fresh, bubbly, well bodied. Pink bubbles and tomato is the first step to happiness.