Today's post has been brought to you by the TOMATO! Let's chat about pairing wines with this glorious summer fruit (yes, a FRUIT...not a veg!), shall we?
Tomatoes have a LOT going for them...they are, arguably, the culinary equivalent of the little black dress. Tomatoes are also very naturally high in acidity...which may SEEM like a problem when it comes to pairing wines with them.
FEAR NOT, my friends! A few simple guidelines will have you sprinting to your garden or local farmer's market to grab these colorful little juicy jewels.
Rule 1: Acidic foods make wines taste less acidic. Tart wines will taste more fruity when paired with acidic foods, such as tomatoes. So for FRESH tomatoes, let's first...THINK PINK. No shock there, as i tend to preach the pink as a food partner for many reasons. Rosé IS summer, so let's grab those heirlooms and drizzle them with some excellent extra virgin...crown them with a flourish of kosher salt and adorn them with a chiffonade of fresh basil. The olive oil will tend to soften the acidity of the tomato...toss a little burrata or fresh mozzarella into the mix to further tone down that little tomato. Wines to avoid include big, buttery Chardonnay (the horror!) and reds that are high in tannin. Wines that are high in acidity are the ones to look for here. In addition to my precious pink...seek out a Sauvie...procure a Pinot Gris...reach for a dry Riesling...search for a sparkler. And..you can never go wrong with a cool Italian white, such as Arneis, Gave, or Soave.
Rule 2: COOKING the tomatoes will reduce their natural acidity, rendering them almost sweet. (think about how a fresh tomato tastes versus a sun-dried tomato) With this type of preparation..stick with reds that are high in acidity, but not tannin. Barbera is a great choice, as is Sangiovese...the grape of Chianti. There's a REASON that so many Italian restaurants feature such a variety of these wines on their lists. They are GREAT with tomato sauced dishes! It has often been stated, and sometimes overstated that what grows together GOES TOGETHER...but, i find the adage to be helpful, particularly when we are talking about Italian cuisine and the wines to match. And, don't neglect the whites when thinking about pairing certain dishes bathed in a robe of red sauce. Mussels Fra Diavola and Cioppino literally cry out for a crisp, acidic white. And, although I don't often tout the virtues of Pinot Grigio...there are wonderful examples to be found and they are just the ticket for certain tomato-sauced creations. Stick to smaller production Pinot Grigio...Jermann, St. Michael Eppan, Lechthaler...or even Ferrari-Carano and De Loach from the good old U S of A.
There! Fairly simple and not as difficult as one might imagine! Now--get thee to your local farm stand, farmer's market, or backyard garden...and prepare to take your tomato game to a whole new level. Cheers!
It is #NationalCheeseDay...or as I like to call it...every day that ends in Y.
Mother Nature has not realized that it is JUNE as of yet, so let's sing the blues a bit.
Blue-veined cheeses CAN be difficult to pair with wine...so much personality packed into that little blue bundle. But, for those of us that embrace the blues, it is a challenge that is well worth the effort.
Stilton, Gorgonzola, King Roquefort, Bleu D'Auvergne, Maytag,,Point Reyes...the list of blues is endless. But...the wine pairing options? Not so much. Blue cheeses require pairing with wines of equal oomph and chutzpah.
Look for wines that have a touch of sweetness...or full-ON sweetness to best belly-up to the blue.
Ruby or tawny ports are a classic option, as the nutty components transform the blue into bliss. Sauternes is another classic pairing, particularly with Stilton, but it is fairly tough to find a reasonably priced Sauternes these days. A Finger Lakes Late Harvest wine would be a nice substitute and you won't kill your wallet in the process. Certain sherries that have undergone oxidative aging are also an excellent bet for the blue.
My favorite pairing, however, is a nice, rich Amarone! Why not? Particularly if someone else is paying! Valpolicellas that contain the same grapes and are sometimes referred to as Ripasso (or re-passed) are an excellent and less expensive option that Big Brother Amarone.
The bottom line on the blue is this: Choose a wine that will balance the bold, salty, and savory BODY of the Blue that you are pairing. if you insist on a white wine other than a dessert-style...opt for a Semi-Sweet/Semi-Dry Riesling. If you taste it with a New Zealand Sauvie? Well--don't say I didn't warn you! And..if you've experimented and discovered some additional options...drop me a line and tell me all about it!
Truth be told...I really don't miss retail much. What I DO miss is having the ability to chat about my favorite subject all day. So, I am creating a blog for YOU to ask me questions, check out my pairings and reviews and recos on wines. Many of you have asked me to do this...VOILA! You ask me to do something and I DO it. What a novel concept. Hope you'll all join me for the ride...and a wild one it shall be. Cheers.