During my college days, I worked in an Italian Restaurant near Boston's North End. I came out of this experience much the wiser, but also possessed of a taste for things served with tomato sauces of all shapes and sizes. This I consider to be a good thing.

But I also have a taste for wine, as my now quite numerous writeups on the subject will attest. Herein lies something of a problem: tomato sauces are, in general, quite acidic, and tend to do battle with the wines you drink alongside them. So you take a bite of your lasagne bolognese and follow it with a sip of, say, Merlot, and you go "Yow!"

But there is hope. After all, the Italians have been cultivating grapes and tomatoes together for centuries, right? They have responded to the acid challenge by developing wines that are relatively high in acid themselves (all wine, red or white, has some level of acid, but some more than others...), and this provides the necessary structure to stand up to the tomato acid. The result is an eating experience where you get to enjoy both food and drink, which now peacefully coexist. Below I list several types of Italian red wines that will quite likely go well with tomato-based dishes. You are on your own finding a good wine from these styles.

You may, of course, ask about white wines, which as a rule tend to be more acidic than reds. I suspect that this is something to be approached with caution, as tomato-sauce dishes tend to be quite flavorful and may swamp a mild, unsuspecting white wine. But your individual taste should win the day--always drink what you want, even if people stare and point.

Back to Rook's Wine Reviews


Chiantis labeled "riserva" are required to be aged for at least two years in oak before bottling, and this gives them a much fuller body than regular old Chiantis.

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