Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pizza and Wine: A Perfect Pair (Part 1)

The Pizza/Wine Experience

There's nothing like a slice of pizza (or more) and a glass of wine (or more) to compliment it. The two seem to be a natural pairing. Luxurious cheeses, variously structured dough, rich tomato sauce, aromatic herbs and flavorful toppings make the simple act of eating pizza a truly sensual affair.

Don't you love it when you take the first bite! The amazing mix of melted cheese, savory tomato sauce, herbs and toppings all melding into one sumptuous tasting explosion.

Wine is the perfect partner to enhance the delight of pizza. The right wine can intensify your experience in every way.  Isn't that what it's all about? Taking the time to connect with the foods we eat, letting them enliven our senses. Wine and pizza do this perfectly. The Italians really got it right.

Pizza - Red Wine Pairing Guidelines 

Here are a few simple guidelines on pairing wine with three popular pizzas.

Cheese Pizza

Cheese pizza is the classic New York Neapolitan pizza. It's traditional and always good to go. You will have to work with the acid in the tomato sauce and the fat in the cheese.  To cut the fat you will need a wine moderately high in acid and with moderate tannin. The tomatoes demand a wine higher in acid. 

Red wine would be most fitting to accomplish the task.

1 - Barbera d'Alba. My first choice would be a Barbera d' Alba from the Italian Piedmont, It's low in tanin and high in acidity. A nice match. 

2 - Chianti. Second would be the Sangiovese based Chianti. You can stay with a regular Chianti DOCG rather than the Chianti Classico. The regular Chianti is less intense, ligther and less tannic. A very nice match for your cheese pizza. 

3 - Beaujolais. A nice match would be the Gamay grape from France. A good Beaujolais is light bodied, with nice fruit and very refreshing. I enjoy this match very much. 

 Pepperoni Pizza

With the addition of pepperoni to the pizza you have an extra layer of spice and fat. You will need a rather bold wine to stand up to the power of this pizza style. 

1 - Cabernet Franc. A good Cabernet Franc is a fantastic pair with pepperoni pizza. It is a big wine with big flavors. It possesses an earthiness that goes well with the pepperoni's fat and spice. 

2 - Chianti. The Sangiovese grape is big enough to match the spice and fat in the pepperoni. Consider a Chianti Classico. It is more robust and bigger than a regular Chianti. Other Sangiovese based wines would also be fine.  

Sausage Pizza
Sausage Pizza is big and bold with plenty of spices. You will need to think big red to make the perfect match. Sausages are complicated and have many ingredients, including fennel, oregano, anise, etc. 

1 - Syrah. Big full bodied reds like Syrah go well with the rich spiciness of sausage. Syrah's intense dark fruits, olives, dark berries and spice matches up perfectly with what a sausage pizza offers. 

2 - Cabernet Sauvignon. A high tannin, high acid wine like Cabernet Sauvignon is a great match with any sausage and meat pizza. Rich, spicy foods need a big Cab to complement it. Although both the pizza and the wine are big, they work well together. 


In the next post, I'll address a few other types of pizza and the wines that go well with them.

Remember, keep things simple. It's really about what you like and want to drink. My preferences are just that, my preferences. After some trial and error you can decide what you like best. Just as you have some favorite pizzas, you will also develop a taste for specific wines. 


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