Last week, my company went out for pizza. Being the resident wine expert, I was tasked with ordering the wine, which I happily did. I ordered one Chianti and one Zinfandel, because I know these wines to be very pizza friendly. But when pairing wine with pizza, did I do my best? I did a little research and thought I would share with you what I learned.
For Starters, Why Did I Choose Chianti and Zinfandel?
The Chicago Tribune explains my choices perfectly: “First, most pizza is salty, and a great wine quality to partner with salt is acidity. The same goes for the fattiness that the cheese brings. Cut it with acidity in wine. Chianti, the legendary sangiovese-based red wine from Tuscany, is a classic pizza pairing for this reason. It’s not too big on the body scale, and it’s simpatico with tomato-based sauces. Plus it’s from Italy, like pizza. But Italian pizza has become about as American as German hamburgers, so I like a nice, fruity zinfandel with my pie too.”
What About Non-traditional Pizzas?
WineWordWisdom.com does a great job of explaining the many non-typical pizza options: “Pizzas, like people, come with all sorts of personalities and styles. Pizzas may have thin or thick crusts and range from tomato-sauce-laden pies with lots of mozzarella cheese to more ephemeral white pizzas totally devoid of any tomato sauce. And did we mention toppings? Toppings can range from vegetables such as potatoes, roasted peppers, asparagus, tomatoes and garlic to seafood such as shrimp, squid, tuna and anchovies to meats such as pepperoni, ground beef, Canadian bacon and sausage. That is quite a mélange of possible texture and flavor combinations!”
A Few Tips for Pairing Wine with Pizza
So how do you find the wine to match all these different pizza options? Here are a few tips to help you out.
- Avoid wines that are too powerful, tannic or oaky. These can weigh down your pizza experience, making everything feel heavy and, believe it or not, a bit metallic.
- Go Italian. Since pizza is the perfect Italian comfort food, why not have some fun with Italian wine? And the great news is that Italian red wines are noted for their high acidity, which is perfect for acidic tomato sauce and fatty cheese.
- Opt for red. Pizza’s earthiness tends to work better with red wine. If you must have white wine, not a problem. But if you can handle red wine, you’ll probably be happier.
- Don’t forget the fruit and the savoriness. It’s nice to have juicy fruit flavors in the wine, as well as savory flavors, to help bring out the flavors of the toppings and the dough.
The Wine and Pizza Pairing App from VinePair
VinePair has an incredibly cool app called The Wine and Pizza Pairing App. This app is beyond cool. You choose from 14 pizza types, and then you choose red or white wine. When I tried a cheese pizza with red wine, I got Dolcetto, one of my all-time favorite wines. When I tried a cheese pizza with white wine, I got Pinot Grigio. For a veggie pizza, I got Rosé for red wine and Sauvignon Blanc for white wine. Next, I tried a white pizza, where I got Frappato for red and Chablis for white. For an olive pizza, I got Grenache for red and again Pinot Grigio for white. Since I’m not a meat eater, I didn’t check out any of the meat pizzas. But I’m guessing the recommendations are good.
Bottom line, it would be hard to find a truly bad wine/pizza combination. So when it comes to pairing wine with pizza, I don’t think you need to get too stressed out. But I hope you find the tips helpful, and I hope you enjoy VinePair’s app.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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