Bruschetta with Mint and Goat Cheese

© Jaymi HeimbuchPhotos by Jaymi Heimbuch. Tomatoes sold separately.

This recipe was created exclusively to pair with the 2009 Barbera from Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. The wine is quite lively for a red, with bright raspberry and cherry notes and just a hint of tobacco. It won Best of Class in the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and when you taste it, you'll know why.

Barbera is the third most-planted grape variety in Italy, with its low tannins nice acids, it's an easy match for so many Italian dishes. With Jacuzzi's Barbera being so fresh and alive, it demanded a food pairing of equal stature. While bruschetta is usually made with basil, I chose mint to help keep the flavors a little light. By the way, bruschetta is pronounced like brusketta, which I said incorrectly for many, many years.

French bread, 1/2-inch slices
1 garlic clove, halved (more if you're warding off vampires)
1 carton of cherry or grape tomatoes
6 ounces of soft goat cheese
3 mint leaves, chopped
Olive oil
Pinch of salt

1. Slice and quarter the tomatoes. I like to mix it up, so I leave some whole and some halved.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

2. Add the tomatoes to a large mixing bowl with just enough olive oil to lightly coat.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

3. Add the garlic, salt and mint, lightly mix and chill.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

4. Lightly toast the bread slices. I prefer my bruschetta with warm bread and chilled tomatoes, so I toast as needed, making just a few slices at a time. But if you are having a par-tay, place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 325 degrees.

5. Spread a thin layer of goat cheese over every toasted piece of bread. Or a thick layer if you are a cheese fiend like myself.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

6. Top with the tomato mixture.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

7. Finish with some mint and try to share it with friends and family. Trust me, it will be tough!

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Variations

Instead of tomatoes, dice up some pears, replace the salt with a pinch of brown sugar and bake for 5 minutes on 375 degrees.

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