How to Pair Tomatoes with Wine

A photo of ripe tomatoes
Photo by Meg Baggott

You say tomato…we say, “here’s how to pair this versatile summertime treat.” There are more than 10,000 types of tomato, which range in color from white to black and are used around the globe in everything from drinks to dessert. This popularity hasn’t spared them of a reputation for being difficult to pair with wine, however, thanks in large part to their considerable acidity. But, as American farmers markets flood with juicy, field-ripened varieties this time of year—a delight after months of bland supermarket tomatoes—there are ways to find your perfect partner pour, depending on which side of the flavor spectrum they fall.

Sweet

Juicy sweetness is the hallmark of a great tomato. Cooking can accentuate this, as it concentrates and caramelizes sugar while reducing acidity. An off-dry Riesling can be a delicious and hedonistic match. For cooked tomato sauces, Sangiovese-based Chianti is also a classic pairing.

Pappardelle with Eggplant Ragout

Tangy

The bright acidity of tomatoes helps balance their sweetness. High-acid wines can handle the challenge it poses. A common pairing in Spain for gazpacho, Albariño has tart citrus flavors with underlying melon or stone-fruit qualities that blend well with tomatoes.

Green

Even ripe red tomatoes have a subtle green quality. Just smell the stem end for the alluring and pungent scent of tomato leaf and wet grass. This helps explain why wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Chilean Carmenère, which often smell of tomato leaf and herbs, are a good pairing partner.

Earthy

The complex earthiness of tomatoes distinguishes them from other fruits. A Bandol rosé with a high percentage of Mourvèdre is among the richest of French rosés. It’s earthy, smoky and floral, beautiful alongside grilled, roasted and sundried tomatoes.

Published on July 12, 2019
Topics: Food
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net



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