Let me just start by saying that I freakin’ love pizza. LOVE IT. In my household, we celebrate #pizzafriday on a weekly basis, and I look forward to biting into an ooey, gooey cheesey slice all week long. Like. Seriously.
But what wine to pair with pizza? This is make it or break it for me and the overall experience. As such, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite pizza toppings and wine pairings below!
MONTEPULCIANO AND CHEESE PIZZA
A classic slice of cheese pizza with red sauce is the quintessential go-slice of pie. When considering which wine to pair with it, the red sauce becomes the focal point because of its acidity and intense flavor. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is my go-to choice -- a grape that’s grown in Abruzzo, a region east of Rome. With smooth round flavors of flowers, red berries, and herbs, this wine also features earthy notes and a slightly peppery/spicy finish. A match made in heaven!
GRENACHE BLANC & GRILLED FOUR ONION PIZZA
Grenache Blanc is an aromatic white wine. This bottle of Proxy Grenache Blanc shows explosive aromas of white peach, passion fruit, and guava. The mouth is weighty with dense layers of tropical fruit with hints of citrus and stone fruit, and well balanced by natural acidity. As such, you’ll want to pair it with a fresher style pizza. My favorite? A grilled four-onion pizza. You can get the recipe here, or, if ordering from your favorite local spot look for something with crisp, fresh veggies, a garlic/olive oil sauce, and a fontina-style cheese. The summery flavors of the wine are going to play well with the veggies and keep you going back for bite after bite.
ZINFANDEL & CLASSIC PEPPERONI PIZZA
Who can resist a classic slice of cheese and pepperoni? My go-to for this style of pizza is a Zinfandel — and Pellegrini Zinfandel from Mercantile & Co is absolutely perfect. Big & intense with richy juicy flavors and mouth-watering acidity, this wine is a good partner for matching the slight spiciness of pepperoni and full-flavored goodness of tomato sauce. Zinfandel can also be a versatile wine when it comes to food pairings, so you could easily pair it with a meat lovers pie, pepperoni & sausage, or a simple slice of cheese pizza. You can’t go wrong here!
VALPOLICELLA & MARGHERITA PIZZA
Ah, and of course… we couldn’t get through a wine & pizza pairing post without bringing in a bottle from Italy! This bottle of Ca’ Rugate Rio Albo Valpolicella DOC will transport your taste buds to the beautiful, hilly vineyards of Montecchia di Crosara. Produced from the standard varietals for this area (45% Corvina, 40% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella), you’ll note ruby red hews, with a bouquet of blackberry and cherries. The palate is supple, with light tannins and plenty of flavor, making it the perfect compliment to a thin crusted traditional Margherita Pizza with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and fresh basil leaves.
MARGHERITA PIZZA AND DRY ROSE
With its aromatic notes of fresh basil and the use of other lightly flavored fresh ingredients, a rosé is the perfect Margherita pizza wine pairing. With crisp acidity and more delicate fruit flavors, rose is going to stand up well without overpowering the pizza. Of course, if you’re a red wine-only type of drinker, Garnacha is an excellent alternative. When deciding whether or not you’re going to have a red, white or rosé, sometimes it’s more about your environment -- a warm, sunny brunch outdoor on the patio vs a cozy pizza night in will call for different pairings. Regardless, with something lightly flavored like a Margherita Pizza, stick to lighter reds as a starting point.
SAUSAGE PIZZA AND SYRAH
Syrah tends to err on the funky, earthy, meaty side of things, making it the perfect wine to compliment your spicy sausage. Bold pizza toppings call for a bold wine -- Syrah works well with rich meats like sausage due to the spices used (including fennel, anise, thyme and oregano) and the flavor intensities.Syrah will greet you with its intense dark fruit flavors of blackberry, olive, plum and blueberry which should work well with a typical fennel-driven sausage.
HAWAIIAN PIZZA AND RIESLING
Ahh, you’re a special one, aren’t you? I’ve been made fun of in the past for ordering pizza with pepperoni and bacon, but there’s truly nothing like the combo of salty, savory pork paired with sweet, juicy pineapple. For a typical Hawaiian Pizza, with ham and pineapple, pair with an off-dry (slightly sweet) Riesling. The Germans are well-known for pairing their Rieslings with all kinds of meats, so it’s no surprise that this is a great match. The acidity in the Riesling acts as a palate cleanser and the sweetness of the Riesling will elevate your ham pineapple experience to a new level.
BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA AND MALBEC
Another unique pizza topping that sounds questionable, but is undeniably delicious: BBQ Chicken. Barbecue is many things but on a pizza it has this sweeter smoky kick which a Argentine Malbec would pair really well with. Fruit-forward in style, Malbec is a great option for the sweet notes in the bbq sauce. It’s also got enough kick to stand up to the ingredients on the pizza, without overwhelming them. Known for its flavors of dark fruit, black berry, cherry, and plum, accompanied by notes of spice and tobacco -- the perfect pairing.
WHITE PIZZA AND PINOT NOIR
White pizza is a pizza to have fun with. It’s completely different than any of the others on the list, devoid of red sauce, opening you up to a terrific new array of wine pairings. Cream-based dishes elevant the naturally creamy notes in Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, while being complimented by their high acidity. Depending on if you want a white or a red, either will make an excellent choice, and both show great affinities to green herbs that are often scattered on top of white pizzas.
CHEERS TO PIZZA!
As always, the best pairing for whatever you’re eating is something you love! While there’s certainly magical food & wine combos out there, at the end of the day it’s about eating and drinking what you actually enjoy. We hope these pairings inspired you to pour a glass f something lovely for your next Pizza Friday adventure.