In the video clip above, Jeff and I chat about pairing wine with different types of tomatoes and tomato dishes.
What’s your favourite pairing?
Jeff: Stores and Farmer’s Markets are lush right now with colourful products including tomatoes of every colour ripe off the vine or cooked up in a sauce. Nothing can complement a tasty dish like a great glass of wine. And here with her picks for perfect pairing is wine expert Natalie MacLean, nice to see you.
Natalie: It’s great to see you, Jeff.
Jeff: Now listen, before we get to the tomato, which, to me, is just a fascinating endeavor here, but how’s the grape harvest been this year?
Natalie: It’s going really well. Actually, if you ask winemakers, they’re a bit superstitious to call it. But they’re very optimistic. They’re saying that this could be a really good year. 2010 was the last great year. What’s happening this year from coast to coast, from the Okanagan Valley to the Annapolis Valley, Niagara to the County, it’s been dry and hot and that’s perfect for grape ripening.
Jeff: Perfect, perfect.
Natalie: So they’re really, really thinking. But these next few weeks, this is when it’s a make or break year.
Jeff: Critical right now.
Jeff: Alright, now we’re pairing wines with tomato dishes. I have to tell you, I mean oftentimes, we’ll have people on, talking about the perfect wine, you know, to eat with pasta or what to eat with this meat. But, tomatoes, I mean, I don’t think there’s a type of wine for everybody. So, what should we be thinking of?
Natalie: Well, we should first of all be thinking that tomato dishes and tomatoes themselves can go beautifully with wine, with the right wine. And fortunately, Canada produces, I think, the ultimate tomato wines.
Jeff: And you’ve got a selection of reds and whites.
Natalie: Exactly. So when we think about tomatoes, there are all kinds of different types, and you know, I was in the grocery store yesterday picking out these. We’ve got heirloom tomatoes, we got green and yellow and red. All tomatoes are not made equally and they don’t taste the same.
Jeff: Right, right.
Natalie: Yes, so when we look at the different colours, they tend to be sweeter than your traditional red tomatoes. The red tomatoes have the most acidity.
Jeff: So now that we get to that, how would the acidity of the tomato affect the wine?
Natalie: Well what you need when you have acidity in any dish, let alone tomatoes, is acidity in your wine, and we do that so beautifully in Canada whether we’re talking Pinot Noir or a crisp, zesty white. If you match a wine that doesn’t have that acidity, it’s going to taste flabby in comparison to the tomatoes.
Jeff: Right, okay. So you mention now some of these non-traditional tomatoes, all the smaller ones. Let’s say for example you’re having a dish like we have, this linguini, I believe.
Natalie: That’s right.
Jeff: Now, we’re pairing that with these reds based on the tomatoes.
Natalie: Absolutely, because pasta, like chicken, is a very neutral vehicle, it’s what you put with it. It’s all about the sauce in the tomatoes.
Natalie: I’ve got some spectacular wines here. This is a Stratus red and white all across the board. Even though this isn’t a Pinot Noir, this is a red blend but we have a beautiful balanced acidity in our wines and they go really well with these pasta dishes.
Jeff: And we have to balance the acidity. Do all the tomatoes have a certain degree of acidity? I mean, you mentioned, of course, that the little coloured ones are a little sweeter but they have some acidity as well.
Natalie: Oh they have all have acidity and it also depends on the dish. So the pasta’s going to soften the perception of acidity. So it’s different if you’re just eating raw tomato and drinking wine, it’s different when you put some salt…
Jeff: Right, right. Do people do that?
Natalie: I do. Anyway, let’s stick with what most people do.
Natalie: So if you put like basil or olive oil or a mozzarella cheese, like a caprese salad, that’s going to soften the acidity or the perception of the acidity in the tomato.
Natalie: Marquesa, that’s from Prince Edward County and it’s not an ice wine. It’s a port style wine but we do have an ice wine here from Rief.
Jeff: So what would you have with ice wine? It is very sweet.
Natalie: Yes it is, then you can get into your snacking. So, your nachos and your salsas, that sort of thing because you might have other sweeter things on the go.
Jeff: So literally, there’s something for everything.
Natalie: There is something for everyone.
Jeff: Natalie, thank you very much for seeing us this morning.
Natalie: Alright, take care.
Jeff: Okay, tomatoes and wine – there we go. For more great pairing ideas and the link to Natalie’s website, head over to http://www.nataliemaclean.com/matcher/.
Here are some great wines for tomato dishes to try this weekend.