I agree - what you quoted was actually a quote from Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats, not me. I drink my whisky neat!!!
What you describe is well known and written about before McGee but that has nothing to do with alcohol-soluble components in tomatoes (or any other food). There is also a difference between aroma and flavor /taste of a dish. The low alcohol enhancement can play a role with aroma, solubilizing components within food/dishes has an effect on flavor/taste (and potentially on the texture). Alcohol can solubilize different components than water as it is more hydrophobic but other parts of a dish can have similar effects.
I’m not following the distinction. In what sense is alcohol “hydrophobic”, and how does “alcohol can solubilize different components” differ from “alcohol-soluble components”?
alcohol is more hydrophobic (due to its ethyl group) than water and thereby can solubilize different compounds compared to water.
biondanonima was writing about components in a dish which are only solubilized by alcohol which is very unlikely.
I’m still not following the distinction – being as you’ve essentially repeated the previous comment I was hoping you’d clarify!
Are you saying that there are compounds that are soluble in alcohol (or in a water-alcohol mixture), which aren’t in water only, but these aren’t gastronomically likely or significant? Or that they’re typically also soluble in (for example) lipids, which are also likely to be present in most dishes?
My point overall was that there are unlikely compounds in a dish which are specifically only soluble in alcohol but nothing else. Having a mixture of water, lipids, salts etc is enough to solubilize pretty much all relevant components in a dish.