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Caroline Styne Pairs Tomatoes with Wine

Photo by Vince Lee

As one of the top female wine directors in the county, Caroline Styne might be pairing wines one night at a fundraiser in her Brentwood restaurant, Tavern, for former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, or matching up recipes from the legendary Commander’s Palace in New Orleans with Lebanese Rosé on another. Along with her chef-business partner Suzanne Goin, these innovative women own a handful of top restaurants in Los Angeles, from Mediterranean-inspired Lucques to small-plate haven AOC, while also running the food program at the Hollywood Bowl, a few fast-casual bakery concepts, and a catering company.

Styne was nominated for the 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur, but she still found time to pair some of her favorite wines with tomato dishes that frequent the menu at Styne’s and Goin’s popular establishments. Turns out, tomatoes taste pretty spectacular when buddied up with a hand-selected vintage.

Pairing with fresh tomatoes:

“I often find that bright, citrusy, high-acid wines like Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley and old world-style Chardonnay work really well with fresh tomatoes. The mineral notes in these wines act almost like salt, highlighting the natural acidity in the tomatoes and allowing their sweetness to shine through. At Lucques, I like to pair Suzanne’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata and Torn Croutons with a racy Central Coast Chardonnay, like Melville Chardonnay from Santa Rita Hills.”

Turns out, tomatoes taste pretty spectacular when buddied up with a hand-selected vintage.

Pairing with roasted tomatoes:

“When tomatoes are roasted or stewed, their flavor profile becomes much deeper and darker, and the acidity becomes even more pronounced. With cooked tomatoes, I always reach for a light-bodied, high-acid red wine like Sangiovese. At AOC, we serve a focaccia with roasted tomatoes, Gruyère, and black olives that I love pairing with Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso di Montalcino.”

Pairing with gazpacho:

“At the Hollywood Bowl, we serve a bright and zesty dish of Grilled Shrimp with Yellow Tomato Gazpacho. This is a fun pairing opportunity because it’s an uncooked tomato dish that works well with both white and red wines. When going for a red, I often look to Spanish varietals like Garnacha. I love the wines made in the Viños dei Madrid region, like Navaherreros Garnacha de Bernabeleva, a red-fruited Garnacha with bright acidity and spiciness that pairs really well with the vibrant flavors in the gazpacho.”

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