Sommelier secrets for pizza wine pairings
The great thing about pizza wine pairing is you really can’t go wrong.
Eating a real comfort food like pizza with a beverage you enjoy drinking will offer a pleasurable experience.
That’s simple math.
But if you want to enhance that pleasure (and the flavors of the pizza) with a thoughtfully paired wine, here are a few sommelier secrets and tips to guide you to the perfect pairing, as well as some suggested bottles.
Sparkling wine is a natural pairing with pizza. A rich, greasy, NY-style slice, especially with crisp pepperoni on top, needs something with high acidity. Enter: Champagne. The bubbles cleanse your palate of the delicious greasy goodness, while the acidity cuts through the fat of the pepperoni and cheese. For extra saucy styles, look to rosé Champagne. A rosé will often offer a fruitier style that can make bright tomato flavors really pop on the palate.
Bortolotti, Prosecco, Brut, Italy – A small-production, high-quality prosecco that’s both dry and fruit-forward. Really great with vegetable toppings.
Segura Viudas, Cava, Brut, Spain – A delicious example of quality bubbles at a reasonable price. Made exactly like Champagne at half the cost, this wine offers a balance of salinity, fruitiness, and acidity that works well with most pizzas. (But I highly recommend trying it with a slice of sausage!)
Billecart-Salmon, Brut Rosé, Champagne, France – This is my “benchmark” for high quality Rosé Champagne. (Sommelier Secret: It works with everything.)
Krug, Grande Cuvée, Brut, Champagne, France – Rich and toasty on the palate with a bright acidity, this luxurious bottle is perfect with most pizzas but works especially well with Detroit-style pizza’s dough-to-topping ratio.
Italian red wines can really bring out the most in your pizza. A delicious Sangiovese-based wine from Tuscany will highlight any meat or vegetable-focused toppings as well as the nuances of the tomato sauce. Just be sure to avoid rich and inky wines like Amarone. Medium-bodied reds tend to work best. When in doubt, choose either of two of the most “noble” Italian red varietals: Sangiovese & Nebbiolo. If you are a meat lover, try a Nebbiolo-based wine. The high tannins and acidity will work to contrast the bold flavors of pepperoni, sausage, and whatever else your favorite pizza place includes in the mix.
Suggested Red Wines:
Vietti, Nebbiolo, “Perbacco,” Piedmont 2018
Poggio Antico, Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany 2015
If you like white pizza, try white wine. Look for a richer and creamier expression. Elegant white Burgundy can offer a delicious pairing with cheese and garlic. If Chardonnay isn’t your thing, no worries. Try a Jacquere from Savoie in France.
Suggested White Wines:
Francois Carillon, Bourgogne Blanc, France 2019
Caveau Savoyard, Jacquere, “Apremont,” Savoie, France 2018
Sommelier Pro Tip
You know that special bottle you have been hanging onto for way too long? Drink it with pizza. I know it may seem silly, but often the hype of opening a really special bottle at the most perfect moment will take away from the enjoyment of it. Order a pizza, pull the cork, and enjoy that special bottle with someone special. You’ll thank me later.
P.S. — As a native New Yorker, I will say I have become fond of Detroit-style “pizza”. However, if you can’t fold the slice in half… it’s not pizza.
— By Sean Crenny