Aldo Sohm’s Pairing Party: Sauvignon Blanc and Tuna Tartine
Star sommelier Aldo Sohm, of Le Bernardin and his own Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, recommends an aromatic white with this tuna-topped foccacia
As the man responsible for the wine lists at Aldo Sohm Wine Bar and Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Le Bernardin, Aldo Sohm is a top mentor on preparing food and wine for parties (or just fun tasting exercises at home). As he sees it, tasting parties should offer learning experiences. “People make it complicated; they overdo it,” he says. “Or too serious, like you’re at the doctor or the dentist. That’s never fun.”
To help figure out which wines you’ll have the most fun with, Sohm assembled a flight of Sauvignon Blanc bottlings from different regions, paired with a recipe from chef Keyvin Adams for a small cook-ahead dish to eat after assessing the wines. (Each flight also has a “pirate wine”: an outlier or rebel in that style.) Maybe one of the Sauvignon Blanc styles below, and Adams’ tuna tartine recipe, will inspire your next tasting party.
Note: These wines were selected in 2020, and these vintages may no longer be available. Look for more recent vintages or other wines made in similar styles.
France Vs. New Zealand Vs. California
ALDO SAYS: Sauvignon Blanc is a little tricky because it’s a louder variety. Sauvignon Blanc has a lot of green components; it’s very floral. For me, it often has passion fruit, pineapple, gooseberry and bell pepper. It’s very aromatically loud.
JEAN PABIOT & FILS Pouilly-Fumé Domaine des Fines Caillottes 2018 | 89 points| $28
Wine Spectator: Classic aromas and flavors of grapefruit and gooseberry mark this vibrant version, with bright acidity running throughout. Spice notes emerge on the well-defined finish. Drink now through 2025. 4,000 cases made, 1,100 cases imported.—A.Z.
Aldo: You can see what heat does. It was a long, hot growing season. It’s a father and son, all-biodynamic [producer].
CRAGGY RANGE Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough Te Muna 2018 | 90 | $22
WS: Peach, pear and pineapple flavors are fresh and juicy in this white, with accents of honeysuckle and fresh ginger that linger on the smooth and refreshing finish. Drink now. 36,000 cases made, 32,000 cases imported.—MaryAnn Worobiec
Aldo: Wow. Culture shock. Expressive, loud, noisy. Obviously the quality is there. A lot going on. This is a wine that will divide a group. Some people love it. Wines like this put Sauvignon where it is today.
MASSICAN Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2018 | 90 | $30
WS: Lemon meringue, orange blossom and lime sherbet flavors are vivid and expressive, set on a juicy, light frame and finishing with an aromatic note of lemon verbena. Drink now. 1,072 cases made.—M.W.
Aldo: Tastes like banana. Super well-made. Focused, but there’s a richness, and you feel the alcohol a little.
Pirate Wine: TEMENT Sauvignon Blanc Südsteiermark Ried Zieregg 2015
- 1 pound fresh albacore tuna, or best quality canned or jarred tuna in olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Large pinch freshly ground white pepper
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rings
- 2 pint canning jars
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 8 slices focaccia, each 1 inch wide, 4 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup frisée
- 1/4 cup arugula
- 8 Niçoise olives, pitted and sliced
- 2 mini peppers, cut into thin rings
- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Special equipment (if cannning your own tuna)
- Pressure cooker with 15-pound weight
1. Clean tuna of bones and cut into pieces to fit the length of a pint jar. (If using canned or jarred tuna, skip to Step 9.)
2. Season tuna with salt and white pepper. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
3. Follow the sterilization procedures in your canning jars’ instructions.
4. Place one shallot ring on the bottom of each jar and fill 1/4 of the way with olive oil, then pack tuna into jars.
5. Cover tuna in olive oil, leaving room at the top per manufacturer instructions. Tap the jars to remove any air bubbles, then tightly screw on caps.
6. Place jars in pressure cooker, add 1 inch of water and seal the top, using a 15-pound pressure weight. Place over medium-high heat.
7. Once pressurized, let cook for 7 minutes, then remove from heat. Carefully remove the weight and let steam out.
8. Once depressurized, remove the jars from the pressure cooker and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool overnight.
9. Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove tuna from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Open jars and transfer tuna to one bowl and oil to another. Place mustard in a small bowl and slowly add olive oil, whisking to form an emulsion. Stop adding oil when you achieve a mayonnaise-like texture. Fold it into the tuna.
10. Place focaccia on a sheet pan and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove focaccia from oven, top with tuna and garnish with frisée, arugula, olives, peppers, shallot rings and cherry tomatoes. Serves 4.