How To Pair Wine With Ripe Summer Products

Posted: Aug 02, 2021

Juice from the tomato — harvested less than an hour earlier — dripped down my arm as I chomped through the crunch of toasted sourdough. Sriracha mayo dappled my upper lip. I leaned over the plate to avoid squirting tomato pulp on this week’s polo shirt, my standard work-at-home attire during the pandemic. This was my third sandwich, my appetite outlasting the bacon as I enjoyed summer’s bounty. At times like these, meat is overrated.

My wife planted three raised beds this year and discovered she has a green thumb. We’ve enjoyed lettuces, Swiss chard, fraises des bois, radishes, scallions, celery and eggplant. Our zucchini runneth over. The Brussels sprouts look like they won’t make it, but peppers are beginning to ripen, and now tomatoes — Early Girl and Mr. Stripey. I’m looking forward to some Mexican cucumbers that are supposed to taste of lime but never seem to make it into the house. My wife says they are delicious.

What to drink with this cornucopia, aside from lots of water to stay hydrated in the heat? We traditionally think of pairing wines with meat or fish, not vegetables. But just as we have an abundant variety of foods from the garden this time of year, there are several options to match wines. The keys are acidity and fruitiness.

Let’s start with those tomatoes. Their acidity is challenging for wine pairing. Remember to match acid with acid. Acidic foods make wines taste less acidic. So tart wines will taste fruitier when paired with tomatoes, while richer wines will skew toward the flabby side. Rosé is an obvious choice. Refreshing acidity and bright fruit make it the iconic wine of summer and an ideal partner to tomatoes. The inexpensive Paul D. rosé from Austria that I recommend this week would work, as would earlier recommendations, such as the juicy, exuberant Bedell rosé from Long Island or the elegant Peyrassol La Croix from Provence.

And remember my mantra: Bubbles go with everything. A sparkling rosé, even a Spanish cava or Italian prosecco rosato, can match the acidity of raw tomatoes and bring out fruit flavors in the wine. High-acid whites such as sauvignon blanc, albariño and pinot grigio also do well with vegetables. The Masseria del Feudo Grillo from Sicily, which I recommended last week, speaks to summer and its foods with citrusy acidity and fruit.

We shouldn’t neglect red wines, of course. The same guideline holds: Light and fruity reds with good acidity will pair best with the variety of foods from your garden. This style of wine is increasingly available, as winemakers adapt to consumer preferences for lighter, lower-alcohol wines to match with our modern, more plant-based diets.

By Dave McIntyre
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