What To Drink with Ratatouille
Four wines to pair with the the classic Provençal summer dish
This is an Off the Vine “harvest” column, a way to explore wines through the farmers’ market. In this case, it’s our late summer harvest, when tomatoes, peppers, basil and eggplant are perfectly ripe. And what better dish to showcase these flavors than ratatouille, the classic Provençal summer dish? Whether you cook the ingredients together, separately, in layers or Disney-style, the basic ingredients are the same. Ratatouille isn’t sweet per se, but it is juicy-ripe, with an ideal balance between olive oil and the natural acidity of tomatoes. I like mine garlicky, so the wine choices reflect that style.
The High-Acid Approach
Alois, “Caulino,” Campania, Italy 2012 $16
Made from the Falanghina grape, which shows a pretty floral aroma and flavors of melon and lemon. So does this wine, but it’s also brisk, which lifts the flavors of the slow cooked veggies while adding relief to the dish’s intensity.
The Regional Approach
Les Restanques de Pibarnon, Bandol, France 2010 $28
Here, we match a wine from the dish’s region of origin, an approach that works surprisingly well with old-world food and wine. This Mourvèdre-based red is a terrific example of a beverage that gives the sensation of minerals, a wonderful contrast to the ripeness of the vegetables. Reds from a region called Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence are also delicious.
The “Another Ingredient” Approach
Convento de Las Claras, Ribera del Duero, Spain $18
The key here is to think of the wine as another ingredient to the many flavors in ratatouille. This wine, made from the Tempranillo grape, contributes hints of pepper and anise. Freshness is key here, so if you’re looking for an alternative from Spain, avoid any of the reserva styles.
The “I Don’t Care, Just Make Sure It’s a Big Red Wine” Approach
Primus “The Blend,” Colchagua Valley, Chile 2010 $16
Four varietals make up this bruiser, ratcheting up the lusciousness of the dish. The wine also has a savory quality, which pairs nicely with all the garlic and onions.
Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.