Tania’s Magical Matches: Wine Pairings for the Late Summer Bounty

vegetables fall harvest 620By Tania Thomas

With so many choices in an array of dazzling, vibrant colours, late summer at the farmers’ market is a true sensory overload.

I can never resist the urge to buy a little bit of everything and then try to come up with some creative ways to use it all up before it passes its prime.

Golden corn, juicy red tomatoes, shiny plump eggplants, sunny-yellow squash and sunset-hued ripe peaches, it’s hard to choose.

Summer is the time for effortless entertaining and relaxed patio dinners, and the wine that accompanies it should be exactly that; simple and effortless.

One of the best examples of a late summer dish is probably ratatouille, a delicious Provençal vegetable side-dish originated in Nice.

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Ratatouille is made with individually sautéed sun-ripened vegetables of the Mediterranean; zucchini, pepper and eggplant before simmering them together with tomatoes and a generous amount of herbs de Provence, a blend of dried savory, thyme, oregano, marjoram and rosemary of the region.

This hearty side-dish is often served with grilled lamb or chicken. Delicious blends of syrah, grenache, mouvèdre, carignan and cinsault with notes of black fruit, lavender, olives and savory spices from the sunny south of France would work very well, even powerful dry rosés from Bandol.

If grilling, the caveman’s initial cooking technique is your preferred method as it is for me, all these juicy morsels of nature’s generosity are just as tasty simply prepared on the barbecue.

Grilled vegetables on cutting board on dark wooden background

Grilling vegetables is quick, it adds a delicate smoky flavour and allows us to fully enjoy them while preserving all the nutrients.

Even delicate ripe peaches are fantastic on the grill, served over ice cream while still piping hot. To elevate this indulgence further, open a bottle of full-bodied fruity Syrah-based rosé. Delectable!

Every easy-breezy summer dinner can use a touch of Italian romance. How about using those deliciously plump and juicy red tomatoes to make an equally amazing tomato sauce poured over your favourite kind of pasta?

Even the ripest tomatoes come with a fair amount of acidity, pairing them with wine takes a bit of a know-how. They taste best with wines that match their own acidity.

Crisp and dry whites, such as vernaccia, vermentino or pinot grigio would make a great match.

If your Italian romance calls for a hearty red, do not despair; there are a few pairings as perfect as spicy, seductive Tuscan Chianti, served with a plate of “pasta al pomodoro”.

tomatoes and wine 620

Valcombe SGChateau de Valcombe Syrah Grenache 2011, Rhône, France

Château de Valcombe, one of the oldest family owned wine estates in the southern Rhône, has a 300 years long tradition of winemaking and vine growing on their famous galets covered soil. Galets (round rocks/pebbles) retain the heat soaked up during the day and release it at night, ripening the grapes faster while powerful mistral wind carries away the moisture from the air.

This is a juicy, fruit forward blend of 50% Syrah and Grenache, abundant with aromas and flavours of cherries, raspberries and cassis with a hint of rosemary. Perfectly paired with ratatouille, roasted duck or a tapenade stuffed rabbit. SAQ: 11767987, $ 13.25

Saint-SaturninSaint-Saturnin Le Clocher 2010
From the most famous vineyards of the Mediterranean coast, the appellation of Coteaux the Languedoc in Southern France comes this full bodied blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan.

Smooth, lush and complex, it exhibits generous dark fruit, ripe berries and spice with hints of mocha and a long lingering finish. Sunny south in the bottle, delightful!! Enjoy it with a hearty sausage stew or cassoulet. SAQ: 00545756, $ 12.25

Desirat SyrahCave Saint Desirat Syrah 2009

This is a wonderful north Rhone Syrah, made with a 100% hand harvested grapes grown on granite terraced slopes of Saint Joseph. Beautifully crafted, this elegant wine bursts with ripe blackberry flavours supported by medium tannins and well balanced acidity.

Finish is long, smooth and refined. Enjoy with roasts and hearty stews. This is a great crowd-pleaser and a fantastic value red!! Stock up while still available. BCLDB: 188474, $ 11.49

La Vieille Ferme RoseLa Vieille Ferme Rosé 2013, AOC Luberon, Rhône

The grapes used for this crowd-pleasing rosé come from the northern Rhône’s cooler climate vineyards at the altitude of 300 meters, on the slopes of the renowned Mont Ventoux. This is an intense and well balanced blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault.

Lovely pink in color with rose petals on the nose and an intense burst of cherries and strawberries on the palate, followed by a fresh finish. Served at 10-12 C, it’s great as an apéritif or a perfect companion for a light summer lunch. BCLDB: 559393, $ 11.49

Promessa pinot grigioGabbiano Promessa Pinot Grigio IGT
The cool climate of Northern Italy’s Veneto region is home of this light and crisp white. Fresh and lively, it delivers abundant aromas and flavors of lemon drops and lime, green apple and delicate orange blossom.

Excellent acidity and a subtle touch of minerality. A given as a pairing with steamed lobsters and crab legs served with herb butter. To mix it up a bit, try with a juicy tomato sauce over pasta. Best served at 8-10 C. Salute! LCBO: 77990, $ 11.45

Nespolino (2)Nespolino Rubicone, Sangiovese-Merlot IGT, Italy
From the rolling hills of Bidente Valley in Italian region of Romagna, comes this juicy blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Merlot. Bursting with typical Sangiovese aromas and flavours of ripe cherries and violets with a touch of herbal notes and chocolate.

Well balanced with plush and velvety mouth feel, followed by a long smooth finish, it is a true crowd-pleaser. Best served slightly chilled at 17 C. This great blend is made for rich tomato-based pasta dishes and mature cheeses. BCLDB: 443028, $ 12.79

Tania Thomas

Drawn to food from a very young age, Tania passed her weekends at the countryside house helping with the grape picking in her family’s Croatian vineyards, and then “assisting” grandpa with the winemaking. As an adult, she lived abroad in London, England, Milan and Venice, Italy, and explored the food and wine cultures while traveling throughout Europe.

While living in Toronto, Tania completed studies with the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). She continued her wine education with the prestigious, internationally-recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), based in London, England. In 2007, she achieved the WSET Level 3, Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits.

In 2013, Tania was awarded with a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) designation by The Society of Wine Educators, based in Washington, DC. She is currently studying for the organization’s Certified Wine Educator designation.

Tania also offers sommelier services and tutored wine tastings, consulting and wine tastings via RunawayGrape.com and is a regular columnist with NatalieMacLean.com.

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