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Tomato Bruschetta with an American Wine

Tomato Bruschetta is one of my all-time favorite things to eat.  I want it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even fourth meal around 2 am.  Yes, I have a problem!!!!  Here’s the thing – I really want to enjoy drinking an American white wine with one of my favorite dishes.  I mean, it’s safe to pair this Bruschetta with Pinot Grigio so the acidity levels of the white wine and the tomatoes make a fantastic match, but I want a challenge!!!  Whenever I’m looking to create a pairing I remember this From Food to Wine basic: the cuisine must be prepared first and then tasted to accurately match the food with a great American white wine.


The Approach of Tomato Bruschetta:

A typical tomato bruschetta needs a wine to complement the saltiness of the salt, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan-Reggiano while matching the vegetal acidity of the tomato and basil.  This works well with lighter bodied (skim milk feel), lemon citrus-infused, almond-tinged Pinot Grigio.  So how do I translate this to an American-style wine?  The answer: make the tomato bruschetta itself richer in flavor!  To make the bruschetta fit to serve with an American white wine, the dish must be altered to match the deeper, rounder flavors of the wine.

So – how do we make the recipe richer?  Easy!!  Sauté the tomato bruschetta mix!  Simple, huh?!  This is what a quick sear does:  the heat helps lower the acidity of the vegetal items and the balsamic while raising the overall complexity as the exposed sugars seep out.  The result is a dish with lowered acidity that no longer pairs well with the original Pinot Grigio or other wines like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.  The bruschetta’s newly luxurious feel means it’s now primed to be happily consumed alongside an American white wine called Chardonnay, which is a fuller-bodied varietal usually associated with the flavors and aromas of stone fruit, tropical fruit and oak.


Okay, let’s make some tomato bruschetta! Gather up the following ingredients:

  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 6 large basil leaves, stacked, rolled like a cigar and sliced thinly across (a chiffonade)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced
  • Parmesan-Reggiano sheep’s milk cheese, thinly sliced as desired
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Mix the tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour the tomato mixture into a sauté pan and sear for two minutes over medium heat.  Take the pan off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add chopped basil, stir to combine and then spoon a heaping scoop on to a slice of ciabatta bread.  Garnish with the Parmesan-Reggiano.

Pairing Tomato Bruschetta with Wine:

Now we know that we’re pairing an American Chardonnay with this recipe, but specific location will determine the wine’s flavor.  I narrowed it down to three California wine growing locations:  Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Santa Barbara County.  Let’s compare:

  • Napa Valley: The warmest of the three locations, the Napa heat results in wines with more body, stone fruit notes, oak and a little lemon
  • Sonoma Valley: Cooler than Napa. Sonoma wines are generally medium bodied (whole milk feel) with lemon, lime, some stone fruit and some oakiness
  • Santa Barbara County: Coolest climate and overall feel of the three Chardonnays.  Lots of tropical fruit, herbal notes – rich in feel without so much of the oakiness found in Napa and Sonoma wines

Which wine works?  Santa Barbara County!!!  I grabbed a bottle of Byron Chardonnay 2012 at a wine festival in Dana Point, California and this wine is the perfect pairing for the tomato bruschetta recipe above.  The body of the wine matches the richness of the seared tomatoes, while the herbal notes in both the wine and the bruschetta weave together almost insanely perfectly.

If you are interested in picking up the Byron Chardonnay 2012 from Santa Barbara County, go to



Mario Luna

Certified Sommelier

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