Say “vodka sauce” and I instinctively think “sexy”. But truly, the relatively recent classic dish, normally consisting of a tomato-cream sauce with fresh parmesan blanketing thick, penne pasta, warms me like a comfort food. Because vodka’s subtle flavor is drowned out by the other ingredients in a typical vodka sauce, cooks needn’t worry over what wine to pair with the vodka flavor. The necessary match is really between the wine and the tomato-cream found in most recipes. In fact, foodies often question why vodka sauce exists. Was this mid-eighties invention a fad, gimmick, or simply a vehicle for vodka pushers? Surprisingly, the vodka in the sauce serves a chemical role in creating complex flavors. The tomato is what is called alcohol soluble , meaning some of its flavor compounds are released to the palate only in the presence of alcohol. The best tomato sauces contain some kind of alcohol, whether wine or vodka; otherwise, the mixtures would be missing an appealing component. Vodka is the spirit of choice when wine would impart a more powerful note than desired.