There is no doubt that Pizza is the world’s most popular comfort food. You can find a slice of this pie in almost every corner in the globe with different variations and assortment of toppings. From controversial pineapples in Hawaiian pizza or the combination of cream, finely sliced onions, & bacon strips found on the classic Alsatian pizza called Flammekueche or Tarte Flambée, the vast array of toppings available make endless combinations of comfort to cater to even the most discerning of palates. And what better way to enjoy a pizza slice than to pair it with some wine.
Undeniably wine is the best beverage to pair with food. It is also the only drink that can bring your meal experience to a whole new level. However, it also can be a double-edge sword with wrong pairings that can leave a distasteful experience in the mouth. With so many kinds of pizza and an extensive list of wines available, it can be difficult to choose what wine to drink. Let me share with you my perfect wine and pizza pairings.
Many people assume since pizza is an Italian dish, it is best to pair with Italian wine. This may be true for a classic Neapolitan style pizza; topped with San Marzano tomatoes, Mozzarella di Buffala, fresh herbs, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil that would go nicely with a juicy Valpolicella wine. The Tedeschi Valpolicella Superiore DOC is an excellent pairing as it is has good structure, delicate flavors and elegance that can match the bright acidity found in the tomato.
However, for meatier flavors like pepperoni I tend to go with Syrah wines like the Ferraton Pere et Fils Saint Joseph La Source that is pleasantly fresh with remarkable concentration in its fragrance, a full palate with silky tannins which rounds out from the savory spice flavors of pepperoni slices. More importantly the long and spicy finish, generally found in Syrah wines, can compete with the peppery notes of cured pork.
White pizzas on the other hand change the nature of the pairing. Instead of combining flavor profiles that complement each other, it would be better to pair with those that contrast. The richness of cream or white cheese tends to dominate the flavor profile. It is unlikely to find toppings that bring about acidity to counteract this richness. At times you may even find funky flavors coming from a blue cheese. Generally a Chardonnay, preferably one from the New World like the Domaine Drouhin Oregon Roserock, would be my wine of choice. This an extraordinary vineyard found at the southern tip of the Eola-Amity Hills in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where ideal elevation and ancient volcanic soils bring out a vibrant and energetic wine that is well balanced by a sense of minerality. Its complexity and acidity aid in balancing out the indulgence of a Quattro Formaggio that is layered with four cheeses traditionally mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola, and a fresh creamy cheese.
For more creative pizzas there can be more room for adventurous pairings. On the debatable Hawaiian, a dry Riesling from Alsace would accompany the bursts of sweetness coming from the pineapple. Vegetarian pizzas, especially those with bell peppers, make a mouthwatering combination with Sauvignon Blanc wines either from France or New Zealand. Fruit driven new world style Sauvignon Blanc, like the Allan Scott wine from Marlborough, bring an abundance of fresh, zesty, and juicy flavors that excite the senses without being overloading. Rosé wines from the south of France, Cotes de Provence, make a very versatile wine to accompany pizza. It’s bright acidity can match that of from the tomato sauce while the complex fruit-forward structure of the wine can keep up with an assortment of toppings ranging from fresh cheeses, cured meats, and vegetables.
Endless combinations of wine pairings can be used with pizza as there are endless combinations of toppings that can be placed on one pie. In a Dominos store, it is said that you can make a total of thirty four million possible pizza combinations with all the toppings they have available. Don’t let any wine or pizza snob tell you what to eat or drink when it comes to the comfort of food. I like pineapples on my pizza, I like my red wine chilled; do whatever makes you happy.