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Wine Pairing with Caprese Salad

  • CindyJ Aug 11, 2013 11:13 AM
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I can't get my fill of tomatoes lately, and with an abundance of basil in my herb garden, Caprese salads are on my table almost every night. I usually open a bottle of whatever I've paired with the entree, but I'd like to make the salad the star of the show and I'd love a suggestion for a wine that pairs specifically with the tomato/mozzarella/basil salad. I should mention that sometimes I drizzle on a bit of balsamic vinegar, but more often than not all I add is a sprinkle of sea salt and a bit of EVOO. Thanks!

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  1. Caprese means from Capri and that means we should be in Campania for the wine too. I'd drink a light acidic red with that salad, but all I know from there are three of my favorite Italian wines - Aglianico del Vuture, Greco, and Fiano. (I prefer not to know Lacryma Christi).

    OK. Pinot Noir from somewhere else - not too big.

    Or rosé.

    1. I'm not crazy about mozzarella as a wine pairing by itself. Tomato, basil, and vinegar all point to sauvignon blanc for my palate. Sauvignon is fair with mozz so that's what I'd go with here.

      1. Tomatos, Basil, Mozzarella, and cheese to me need a Chianti or Spanish Rioha.

        I don't think any white will stand up to cheese and tomatos.

        1. Many whites/Rosés will work, but an Arneis from Roero (Piemonte, Italy) is the best single best wine with fresh tomatoes, IMO. And caprese, by extension. A French Rosé would be my second choice. I wouldn't consider a red.

          10 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            Agree about the arneis, but on a more local scale but with some of the same flavor profiles, I'd suggest a fiano d'avellino, an Ischia bianco forastera, or an inzolia from Sicily. A Bardolino chiaretto would serve nicely as a rose.

            1. re: bob96

              Also, Gavi, Erbaluce.

            2. re: maria lorraine

              I would also not consider a red with Caprese Salad. And although collioure does not prefer Lacryma Christi (red, Andy?) I'm wondering whether he knows the WHITE Lacryma Christi, which I think would be a great regional pairing for the salad.

              1. re: ChefJune

                It's the white one I don't like, June.

                And while I never order this particular salad (not big on basil), I'd try a light red first and learn the hard way. Hey, Beaujolais goes with lots of things.

                BTW Arneis might be perfect, but I don't like that either. The Italian whites I much prefer are Fiano, Greco, good Soave and Friulano. They stand up to the kind of food you and I like, June. (I won't freak you all out again by noting what I think of the rest of them.)

                1. re: collioure

                  All those simple, fruity Italian whites are about as good a match for tomato salad as I know. Falanghina, Graciano, Insolia, cheaper Vermentinos ... there are a lot of them.

                  I've had very light reds in Italy that are a good match, for example there's a kind of Chianti that's made to be drunk the year after the vintage, same goes for the lightest Bardolinos and Valpolicellas. I've rarely seen them exported.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Well, as I'm sure you kinow, it's not just a tomato salad.

                    It also features mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil, olive oil and in this case balsamic vinegar.

                    Sauv Bl is right. I just don't like it with tomatoes.

                    1. re: collioure

                      To my palate, the tart wines, such as many Sauvignon Blancs, that work with many other acidic foods clash with raw tomatoes, I think there's something odd about the acids.

                      Vinegar would make pairing just that much harder.

                      1. re: collioure

                        weeeellll... I would not put balsamic vinegar with a Caprese salad. It just doesn't go well on my palate.
                        to tell the truth, I mainly use citrus (mostly lemon, at that) as the acid in my salad dressings, because I think almost all vinegars clash with wine.

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Good tomatoes don't need any more acid anyway.

                          When I want a salad to go with wine, sometimes I reduce some high-acid wine, or use verjuice.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            I make 32 pints of my vinaigrette (11 ingredients, incluidng 3 vinegars and two oils) twice a year. if I used lemon juice only, it would take days.

                2. For a fancy meal, maybe an off-dry Vouvray from a top producer.

                  1. I have been eating lots of Caprese salads also and I love old, sweet balsamic. I add slivers of stone fruit to mine. My latest pairing has been a Leitz Kabinett Riesling. This pairing is more like a friendly wager. The sweet, tang of the wine seems to mirror the salad and two race to refresh your palate. Seems to work best with pluots, plums, or white nectarines in the salad. Oh and lots of large bits of cracked black pepper.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: budnball

                      Nice tasting report bud. This is just further proof that for many palates, riesling is the most food-friendly wine on the planet. If you like kabinett here in a boldly-flavored salad with peppery edges, it would be interesting to see what you think of a spatlese with it too.

                      1. re: budnball

                        That sounds quite good, but calling that a caprese is kind of like calling a pizza topped with the same ingredients a margherita.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Right, at some point you're getting away from the basic salad recipe....

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Not so far off. Tomato, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper. My only addition is the stone fruit. One plum for every 6 tomatoes. I am not very versed in the levels of Rieslings but I would describe this one as off-dry. Was actually reaching for the spatlese but grabbed the kabinett. Very glad I did!

                            1. re: budnball

                              I believe the balsamic is also an addition.

                              1. re: wally

                                This seems to be so. I was introduced to this version in many California restaurants. The balsamic I mean. Adding stone fruit just seemed natural as they and tomatoes ripen at about the same time of year. My Riesling rec kinda depends on at least a balsamic drizzle or the wine and tomatoes will just clash.

                                1. re: budnball

                                  The original is just tomatoes, mozzarella or fior di latte, basil, olive oil, and salt.

                                  Recipes that call for pepper or vinegar were probably American attempts to compensate for relatively flavorless tomatoes and cheese.

                                  1. re: budnball

                                    I like tomatoes and peaches together in salads with basil and cheese, but don't call it caprese. I think the balsamic would be nice with it.