From pizza margherita, to spaghetti bolognese and caprese salad, these savoury tomato dishes are eternal favourites. There's nothing like a zesty pizza and a simple glass of red wine to comfort the soul on a cold rainy night. But if you love wine as much as your favourite tomato based dish, you might find it challenging to pick the perfect match.
Regardless of the weight of the dish, what makes it tricky to select the right wine is the high level of acidity in tomatoes. While your instinct might be to serve a big Aussie Shiraz with your bolognese to get that full comfort factor, it may not be your best option. The key is to choose a wine that is equally high in acid. Genetically, some grapes naturally have what it takes.
For lighter dishes like tomato salads and red and/or green gazpacho, a thirst quenching white will be your best bet. Sauvignon Blanc from the New World, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Arneis, Verdicchio, Italian Pinot Grigio and Greek Assyrtiko are all great choices. In Canada, our climate naturally produces wine with high levels of acidity. Look out for dry Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Haywire makes delicious versions of both. Perseus' Sauvignon Blanc will also refresh you. Le Vieux Pin crafts a great Sauvignon Blanc but they are currently sold out. Be on the lookout for when it comes back in stock!
Hearty pasta and dishes like Osso Bucco will require a fuller bodied red. Whites generally have more acidity than reds, but there are plenty of red grape varieties that are known for their vibrant acidity. Italy is home to many of these. Sangiovese is without a doubt the most well known. It hides behind many of the classic appellations: Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino just to name a few. In Piedmont, Barbera offers another vibrant option. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the indigenous red grapes from Greece especially Xinomavro. Reminiscent of Sangiovese and typically sold under the appellation of Nouasa, it too has firm tannins and assertive acidity. Another to look for is Tempranillo from the region of Rioja in Spain. For a Canadian twist on these exotic destinations, Cabernet Franc is a good pick. Ontario has established a great reputation for this grape and Tawse Winery is one of the producers who has dedicated a lot of love to it. Santé!
Michelle Bouffard is a wine educator and journalist who splits her time between Montréal & Vancouver. She co-owns the Vancouver-based company ‘house wine’ and is the president of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.She Tweets @michellebwine and Instagrams @michellebouffard.