In Ontario, this hot September has kept the bounty of farm fresh tomatoes rolling in. Flavourful, perfectly ripened tomatoes are hard to beat, and are often at their best served with a minimalist approach - raw in a salad with fresh herbs and complementary cheese (I'll never tire of the magic tomato/basil/burrata combo). I recently came across a simple recipe in the New York Times that got me thinking about wine pairings: Tomatoes, Fresh Fig, and Blue Cheese Salad.
Tomatoes can be difficult to pair with wine because their high acidity can steamroll wines with acid levels that don't stack up. When cooked, or in a sauce, Italian reds like Sangiovese or Barbera work wonders, but when raw, racy whites like Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling is a better choice. Despite its sometimes low-acid tendencies, Gewurztraminer is another white that works well with raw tomatoes because of its texture and complementary flavours.
The other major components of this dish (figs and blue cheese), both cry for a wine with a little sweetness. Figs have natural sugar that need to be matched, and the spice and tang of blue cheese is best served with a big, juicy red, or something late harvest.
I wanted to find a couple less obvious pairing choices, and my first pick is the 2012 Nova 7 from Nova Scotian favourite Benjamin Bridge. It is a lightly sparkling blend of L'Acadie Blanc and Muscat, with a slight pink hue and only seven per cent alcohol. It's firing on all levels - with acid, sweetness, and a little fizz. The citrus and floral notes will complement the tomato's flavours and the sweetness will sing with the blue cheese and figs. ($26.95, 7% alcohol)
JoieFarm's 2014 A Noble Blend, which for years has been one of the Okanagan's most renowned blends, also gets my vote. It's a spicy and citrus blend in homage to Alsace that combines Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Schoenberger. It also has acid and a touch of residual sugar. ($24, 12.6% alcohol)
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.