Dreaming of Rosé in January

by Lisa Elbert, Tastemaker in Residence - from STARCHEFS

 Blistered Heirloom Tomatoes, Ricotta, Sea Salt, Mint, and Chili Oil paired with Matthaisson Rosé Blend, Napa, 2014 -  photo by  Caroline Hatchett -

Blistered Heirloom Tomatoes, Ricotta, Sea Salt, Mint, and Chili Oil paired with Matthaisson Rosé Blend, Napa, 2014 - photo by Caroline Hatchett -

While the rest of the country is frostbitten and wind-burnt, it's tomato season in South Florida. And what better way to celebrate than with rosé? ([audible sigh] Remember rosé?) Sommelier Daniel Toral pins the acid on the kisser with a blistered tomato and rosé pairing at South Beach's Southern-inflected Yardbird. “I like tomatoes with rosé because they’re both acidic, and they amplify each other,” says Toral.

The blistered heirloom tomatoes are served with ricotta, sea salt, mint, and chile oil. Toral's pairing—Steve Matthiasson's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon-Grenache-Syrah-Carignan blend—is a classic complement. “There's richness from the cheese and chile oil, a greenness from the mint, and the juiciness of the tomato. This is a really clean style of wine to enhance those aspects of the dish,” he says, without meaning to rub it in the faces of the rest of the country who's stuck swirling glasses of Syrah for the winter.

With a bit of funk on the nose, the rosé gently placates the char and spice on the tomato, like a cool breeze over hot sand. The crisp Provençal-style juice, on the menu for $52/bottle, is pure refreshment, driven without a full tank of alcohol or fruit.