Red Wine and Fresh Tomatoes. It’s a conundrum, there’s just no getting around it. Separately, they can be oh so very wondrous.
But together? Very, very tough. All that warm, luxurious viscosity of a supple and inviting red wine, up against all the fresh, piquant succulence and explosive crispness of a fresh tomato. Oil and Water, my friends. Oil and Water.
So what’s to be done? Well, there’s the obvious. Cook ‘em down! 8 hours on a warm stove, and bam! Pairing heaven. But it’s not particularly imaginative. Delicious, but not imaginative. And I’m into imagination today. So, I want to hear suggestions for IMAGINATIVE ways to prepare tomatoes such that they pair brilliantly with red wine. And of course, not just any red wine. Ridge red wine. Pick a Ridge, and send a recipe. Enquiring minds want to know!
Now, I know there will be naysayers. And don’t get me wrong. I love Caprese. Love it!
Just looking at this picture is making me hungry. Fresh basil and tomatoes? Garlic? Fresh mozzarella and olive oil? Oh yes! Oh very much yes!
The Caprese is a well-balanced salad with creamy mozzarella that tames the high acidity in the tomatoes. A salad like this calls for an equally well-balanced wine — one that’s not too tart and not too creamy, and one that won’t get in the way of unadorned natural flavors of the salad. Pinot Grigio fits the bill, as does Sauvignon Blanc, which also has flavors that will complement the basil.
Again, white wine. One exception? An article from The Washington Post on pairing wine and salad that suggests, somewhat dismissively, the possibility of Beaujolais. The exact quote was:
The rule of thumb when matching wine with salads? Acid loves acid. Tradition honors safe bets such as sauvignon blanc, rosés or — if you insist on a red — Beaujolais. A crisp 2005 Bollini Pinot Grigio Trentino ($14) delightfully offsets a Caprese salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
Now, of course I realize Caprese is not the only way fresh tomatoes are served. But the dish serves as a good metaphor for the problem at large, which is what to do with fresh tomatoes and red wine? The answer, it seems, is to cook the tomatoes. Cook ‘em! But how?
So again, my quest. IMAGINATIVE ways to prepare tomatoes such that they pair excellently with a Ridge red.
To launch the search, I will nominate an ASTONISHING dish I had the great priviledge of tasting yesterday. Roasted red tomato and fennel. Oh good lord, it was delicious, and it paired perfectly with our wine. Oh man, it was really, really, really good … Oh man, fennel, I love you.
I won’t divulge the mad scientist who slayed me with this delectable offering just yet, but they’ll get their well-deserved credit in due time. In the interim, however, I want to see what else is out there.
So bring it!