I’m thinking about the great Italian staple, the tomato. Sure, they’re available all year, but we’re headed into the season of real tomatoes from local fields. Tomatoes with flavour.
One of the first things I make with local field tomatoes is bruschetta. This great summer pizza is made with chopped tomatoes and basil on slices of barbecued bread that is drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. Only the Italians could come up with something so wonderfully simple — and delish.
And the wine to go with this simple fare? A simple red, of course. A light red that echoes the tang of the tomatoes, and has a refreshing, summer feel.
Traditional, everyday reds from the north of Italy are the best partners for bruschetta because they have lots of gusto. Italian food is about gusto, and gusto beats richness in the heat of summer.
Valpolicella is an old LCBO standard that comes to life this time of year, especially with tomatoes. Think of it as Italy’s Beaujolais — a light red to chill and gulp with light summer foods. The quality of Valpolicella is much improved over the old days.
Barbera is another everyday Italian red wine. It refreshes and makes food taste great — a modest character in this era of blockbuster wines. Lightly chill and enjoy with bruschetta or grilled white meats. Bersano’s wine is exceptionally good for the price. It could be mistaken for a $20 Pinot Noir.
Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of Billy’s Best Bottles Wineletter and Billy’s Best Wines For 2007, a guide to the best wines at the LCBO, available in bookstores or throughwww.billysbestbottles.com. Sign up for his free wine e-letter at www.billysbestbottles.com.