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Pairings: Fresh tomato pie, zinfandel are perfect fall comfort foods

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Zinfandel, including our Wine of the Week, Quivira Vineyards 2016 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($25), is a perfect fall wine. The wine’s bright acidity along with its layered dark fruit is ideal with the last of the year’s tomatoes and sweet peppers and with the winter squash that is just coming into season.

Zinfandel, including this one, can be the life of the party, with an exuberance expressed in its acid and its high-toned flavors of cherry and raspberry. This one is a kick-up-your-heels sort of wine, with notes of both milk chocolate and dark chocolate that will delight many palates.

The wine is as easy to pair with burgers, barbecued ribs, ham hocks and beans and spaghetti and meatballs as it is with chili, fajitas, and duck legs braised in red wine.

In the winter, we’ll enjoy it with shepherd’s pie, white bean soup, and risotto with black olives, red beets, or specialty mushrooms. It is outstanding with goat, too, especially goat ragu and goat meatloaf.

For the next few weeks, we have the opportunity to enjoy it with fall tomatoes, one of the wine’s finest partners.

Try it with this luscious tomato pie, a long time favorite that I make at least once every fall.

Fall Tomato Pie

Makes 6 servings

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed fine

— Kosher salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

½ cup whole milk

2½-3 pounds medium-sized ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, sliced, drained (see Note below)

— Black pepper in a mill

1 cup (4 ounces) grated cheese, such as Joe Matos St. George or Bellwether Carmody

½ cup homemade or best-quality mayonnaise

— Juice of ½ lemon

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

3 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the flour, pepper, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the baking powder.

Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture so that it has the texture of coarse-grain sand. Make a small well in the center of the flour, pour in the milk, and mix quickly with a fork until the dough just comes together but is still soft and sticky. Turn onto a well-floured surface.

Knead the dough for 30 seconds, then rest it for 10 minutes. Cut the dough in half, roll out one half to fit an 8- or 9-inch pie pan, and line the pan with it.

Layer the tomatoes and cheese in the pie shell, beginning with tomatoes, sprinkling them with a little salt and topping with about a third of the cheese. When all of the tomatoes have been used, the pie should be very high.

Combine the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and chipotle powder and spread it over the top. Quickly roll out the reserved dough, fit it over the pie, and seal the edges by pinching them together. Cut several slits in the dough to allow steam to escape and brush the dough with the heavy cream.

Set on a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges and enjoy warm.

Note: Use very ripe tomatoes that are heavy for their size. The exact amount you need will depend on how big the seed pockets are; the heavier the tomato, the smaller they should be. After peeling, seeding and slicing (¼-inch thick, crosswise, through the equator) the tomatoes, layer them in a wide colander, sprinkle with a little salt and let the juices drain into a wide shallow bowl for about 30 minutes; turn them once as they drain. Use the juice in another dish or simply drink it, as it is delicious.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes.” Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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