My family loves pizza.
What makes pizza — a near perfect food — even better? Pairing it with the perfect wine. For many years I have been consuming pizza with wine but usually I order the house wine in pizza restaurants or drink what we have on hand in our home. But recently I have been exploring pairings that make this food and wine combination even better.
Pizza already has acidity from the rich tomato sauce, fattiness and salt from the cheese and then there’s a range of options when it comes to the toppings.
Italian Chianti, made from the legendary sangiovese grape, has always been a classic pizza pairing. This pairing fits with one of the general food and wine pairing rules: Drink a wine from the same regions as the cuisine. But there are many exciting options for pairing this now-American staple.
Barbecue Chicken Pizza is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I admit it could be that I enjoy anything barbecue because of the savory-smoky flavors. The barbecue sauce on the pizza brings out many exciting flavors when you add cheeses and spices. Malbec tends to be fruit forward and works with the sweeter styles of most barbecue sauces.
- 2016 Alamos Malbec, Argentina (about $10 retail)
- 2016 Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec, Argentina (about $16 retail)
Hawaiian Pizza is one of my husband’s favorite pizzas and I am always looking for the ideal match. If you consider wine and food pairing advice of the past, a pizza topped with meats is usually considered to match only with a red wine. But during my exploration one of my favorites has been a slightly sweet riesling. The acidity in the riesling acts as a palate cleanser and the slight sweetness brings out the best in the salty ham and sweetness of the pineapple.
- 2016 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, Washington (about $12 retail)
- 2016 Trimbach Riesling, France (about $27 retail)
Meat pizzas — especially with sausage toppings — pair with fuller bodied red wines. Pepperoni gives pizza a meaty spicy flavor matching perfectly into the bold peppery style of the syrah grape. The rich meats with spices generally including fennel, anise, thyme and oregano bring out the intense flavors of this wine.
- 2016 Cline Cellars Syrah, California (about $13 retail)
- 2016 Bell Syrah Canterbury Vineyards, California (about $28 retail)
Pizza Margherita is sometimes put into the same category of wine pairings as a simple cheese pizza. But the aromatic notes of fresh basil and the saltiness of the fresh mozzarella offer much more to pair with a wine also offering aromatics. A dry rose brings an ideal pairing with this pizza style.
- 2016 Apothic Rose, California (about $13 retail)
- 2016 Presqu’ile Winery Rose, California (about $20 retail)