Newspapers, magazines and TV stations all over Canada and the world are clawing to find out more about the new one-of-a-kind tomato wine that's currently being created in Quebec. We spoke with the vice president of Omerto, John Frechette, to get the inside scoop on what this aperitif wine is all about.
The recipe for Omerto actually dates back four generations to company president Pascal Miche's great-grandfather, who first created a tomato liqueur in Belgium in 1938. Over the years the recipe was developed and perfected into its current form. When Miche arrived in Quebec, he partnered with Frechette and decided to renew the tradition of making wine from fresh heirloom tomatoes.
Unfortunately, however, it took 10 years before the government would consider their product a legitimate wine, as it claimed alcohol couldn't be made of vegetables. After a decade, Miche and Frechette managed to prove to the Quebec government that although tomatoes may not have the sweet flavour one typically expects of fruit, botanically speaking, that's precisely what they are. But clearly all that work was worth it, because here we are with one exquisite tomato wine!
Omerto offers two aperitif wines: sec and moelleux. The sec is a dry wine, where the acidity of the tomato mixes with a tangy grapefruit taste for an earthy kick to the palate. Although you may try to compare it to other wines, Frechette explains that its afternotes are actually more akin to those of whisky, sake or grappa. This makes it great for before or during a first course. The moelleux, on the other hand, is more mellow and sweet, which makes it ideal for enjoying from the first course straight through to dessert. Its flowery mix of orange and melon gives it a sweeter tang.
Frechette recommends pairing the Omerto sec with sushi, smoked salmon and smoked trout, or trying his wife's favourite and enjoying it with cheese fondue. The Omerto moelleux goes well with everything from foie gras and strong cheeses to rich, chocolatey desserts. It's also a great cooking wine, so include it in your favourite recipe, or use it to saute some fresh scallops.
One piece of advice Frechette readily shares is to not feel limited by past preferences when you decide between the sec and the moelleux. He explains that many people are surprised to find that though they tend to prefer dry wines, they're drawn to the moelleux, and reverse is true of the sec. So if you have the opportunity to sample both, take advantage!
Frechette explains that although you can find recipes online, Omerto is the first commercialized tomato wine, and no other companies make the product. The product is also a one-of-a-kind tomato wine based on the fact that it has an alcohol content of 18 per cent, which you'd be hard pressed to achieve with a homemade version. In addition, Omerto actually gets better with age, unlike anything you could make yourself. Simply put, Frechette explains: "Nothing could be compared to our recipe."
At the moment Omerto is understandably experiencing a huge demand for its one-of-a-kind wine from all over the world. And the company is expanding slowly to ensure it continues to produce a quality product. For the moment, those living in Quebec can get their hands on it most easily. But Frechette hopes that if talks with other provinces' liquor boards go well, Omerto should be appearing all over Canada in early 2013. We can't wait!
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