The heat of the summer makes a dish like gazpacho particularly welcome at the table. Healthy, refreshing and simple, it ticks all the boxes. Its ingredients make it a bit tricky to pair with wine, but that’s why we’re here…
The original gazpacho is made from mixed tomatoes bulked up with water and combined with garlic, olive oil and salt. This is the base to which can be added ingredients like cucumber, pepper, onions and vinegar. There are also green versions made from Green Zebra tomatoes and yuzu juice, as well as the salmorejo cordobés, a version that differs from the traditional with the addition of breadcrumbs for a creamier consistency. The soup is often topped with pieces of ham and breadcrumbs for added texture.
Whichever version you choose, the tomato, olive oil and garlic provide quite the explosion of flavours…and quite the challenge for wine pairings!
Why is gazpacho with wine destined to fail…in theory?
Tomato, cucumber, olive oil, raw garlic, ham, bread, vinegar…Here’s why these ingredients are particularly difficult to pair:
- Tomato (especially when raw) has a marked acidity that is difficult to balance out with a wine
- Cucumber is very watery
- Garlic (especially raw, as is the case here) is so strong as to overpower the subtleties of a wine
- Olive oil has a marked plant profile
- And vinegar is the sworn enemy of wine with its extreme acidity
We have to admit that, with all this in mind, we won’t find a pairing as magical as dessert wine and blue cheese, oysters and Muscadet or lamb and Médoc. But the adventurous among you might want to have a go at these suggestions…
This is our expert advice
The main things to bear in mind:
- The combined acidity of the tomato and vinegar (and we recommend you add very little of the latter) call for wines with an equal level of acidity.
- The strength of the raw garlic, a very distinct flavour, is better matched with a lively, aromatic and well-structured wine.
These elements push us more towards a white or rosé wine. Forget about reds unless it’s a really light one like a Beaujolais villages or a Poulsard from the Jura. In any case, don’t open a fine red as it’ll be spoilt with this pairing.
If you’re thinking about a rosé, you should choose one with a medium structure, between a fresh and fruity Provençal and a powerful, complex cuvée. Essentially, you don’t want to be opening a bottle from either end of the quality range. Due to its marked flavour, this dish needs a bit of structure, but a fine rosé with delicate aromas would be overpowered. The ideal rosé here is structured with intense aromatics and a fresh hit on the palate. Try a rosé from the Languedoc such as a Pic Saint-Loup, or alternatively try a bottle from Corsica or Tavel.
If you’d prefer a white wine, playing on regional pairings is a good place to start. Spanish wines such as Rioja, Ribeiro, Rueda or Rias Baixas have ripe fruit aromas and a vivacity on the palate that will pair nicely. From France, head for a bottle from Provence, Cassis or Roussillon, as these are powerful wines with good structure and fine aromatics.
In any case, we recommend that you don’t take too much of a risk with this one, so take a look at our crowd-pleasing wine selection for some inspiration.