There’s no better food and drink combination on Earth than wine and pizza. Just like beer and peanuts, this classic pairing has been enjoyed by people for centuries.
It doesn’t matter if you’re simply ordering takeout or if you’re headed to a five-star Italian restaurant. The blend of flavors between a crisp, bubbly wine and a deliciously saucy pizza is unmatched. Whatever you choose to eat and drink, you’re sure to have a great meal.
With how many pizza toppings and wine types, it can be overwhelming to find the right combination for you. Just as there is a myriad of wine styles, there are many different pizza styles as well.
From the deep-dish pies of Chicago to the thin-crusted, charred slices of New York City, we’ve seen several renditions to the Italian dish. Today, you can find stuffed crusts, pig-in-a-blanket crusts, Frito pies, and enough unique toppings to psyche out your taste buds.
Pizza has become embedded in American culture. From sporting events to birthday parties to luxurious restaurants, a pizza pie fits in anywhere. As a child, you may have sipped soda along with your pizza slice. But as an adult, you truly are missing out if you’re not enjoying a glass of wine with your ‘za.
When sipping with your pizza, it’s best to choose a simple wine, one that won’t be overbearing to the flavors of your slice. Ideally, your wine should have minimal layers and a fairly plain base of different grapes.
This incredible match of flavors deserves some attention. Keep reading below with Saucey to find out why this pairing is so popular, as well as which pizzas and wines work best together.
The cheese slice is one of the most commonly served pizzas in the world. A plain slice of cheese pizza with red sauce has become known as the classic “New York slice.”
Because of its high acidity and intense flavor, the red sauce in your cheese slice should be the main focus in your wine pairing. The palate of tomatoes is not very sweet, yet not very bitter either. Therefore, it’s best to choose a balanced wine that compliments both ends of the spectrum.
A solid option is the Masciarelli Montepulciano, an Italian wine made from the Montepulciano grape. This slightly smoky, dusty wine is medium-bodied, making it a versatile drink for various events. With a 14.5% ABV, it is also strong enough to hold up with large meals.
Its aroma is a mix of dark berries and leather, while its palate is filled with cherries, blackberries, and chocolate notes. This wine is also a winner of the Tre Bicchieri award.
The next style of pizza on our list is the oh-so-pretty Margherita. Also baked with a lively red sauce, this thin-crust style of pizza also incorporates hints of fresh basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, and buffalo mozzarella. This type of pizza originates from Naples.
A true Margherita pizza should use tomatoes from San Marzano Sul Sarno, near Naples, Italy. It is also important to use authentic Parmigiano Reggiano, which can be identified through its rind. The word “Parmigiano Reggiano” should be embossed over and over again. If the packaging contains a generic “parmesan” label, it is not authentic.
With how aromatic and fresh the ingredients are, your wine should carry a vibe to match. A glass of sweet, light wine like rosé goes especially well with Margherita pizza. The sugariness of rosé compliments the bold spices of Margherita beautifully.
A light to medium-bodied red or white wine would work as well. It may be wise to start with white wines if you’re relatively new to the wine world, as they generally have a lower ABV. Pinot Grigio isn’t a bad choice either. Avoid heavy-bodied, overpowering wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz.
Pepperoni pizza is undoubtedly a classic. This style of pizza is so popular that many people only know what pepperoni is because of the pizza.
The flavor of pepperoni is much more profound than you probably think at first. In America, it is usually made with cured beef and pork, blended together with many spices such as cayenne pepper, anise, garlic powder, paprika, and sugar. It has a very high-fat content, which makes its presence felt in every bite of your slice.
Unlike the previous pizza options, you’ll need a medium to heavy-bodied wine with intense flavor to counteract the strong flavor of the pepperoni.
One option is a Sangiovese, a bottle of a medium-bodied wine with a full range of flavors, including tomato leaf, pouch tobacco, stone, and roasted meat. The palate of this wine is very dense, pairing it nicely with the flavor of pepperoni.
It also works well because it is moderately acidic, allowing the wine to penetrate the pepperoni’s fat and saltiness. Cabernet Sauvignon is also a decent alternative.
For a pizza as flavorful as pepperoni pizza, you should avoid light-bodied, sweet wines like rosé.
Pepperoni isn’t the pork-based pizza topping on the list. The sausage pizza is another commonly enjoyed pizza around the world. Sausage is made from ground meat, usually pork, poultry, beef, or a blend of the three. It is often seasoned with fennel, anise, thyme, and oregano, which gives it its slightly spicy taste.
Though sausage isn’t quite as salty and fatty as pepperoni, it’s still a good idea to go with a medium-to-full bodied wine for this one. Generally, the stronger the flavors in your meal are, the stronger you want your wine to be.
A lovely wine to pair with your sausage pizza is any type of Syrah, an easy-to-drink, grapey, red wine. It is a relatively light drink, but it is very textured, making it strong enough to combat the spice of the sausage.
Another wine that works well is the Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage, a sweet but smoky wine from South Africa. It carries notes of spicy mulberries, plum pudding, cherries, and even bacon.
For those who like their exotic tastes, Hawaiian pizza is the go-to. This pizza is probably one of the most controversial pizza styles, incorporating ham and pineapple on top of a cheesy, saucy crust. It’s sweet, salty, and crunchy, all-in-one.
For Hawaiian pizza, a light, sweet wine like Riesling is awesome. For years, the Germans have been pairing this wine with all types of different meats. So it’s no surprise that it compliments ham so well.
Furthermore, the sweetness of a Riesling really brings out the tanginess of the pineapple in your pizza. The sweetness of the Riesling will elevate your ham pineapple experience to a new level. For alternative wine options, consider a Zinfandel, Primitivo, or Lambrusco.
Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Barbecue is usually reserved for plain meats like chicken and pork. However, it can also be used as a pizza sauce.
Instead of tomato sauce, some pizzas opt for barbeque sauce, topped with chunks of chicken. This style of pizza has grown in popularity over the years, known for its sweet, smoky flavor.
The best wine for barbeque chicken pizza is the Barefoot Malbec, a glass of medium-bodied wine with blackberry, vanilla, caramel, and toasted oaks. It’s best to pair this type of pizza with a slightly sugary wine and smoky to match the sauce.
Now, we’ve covered several meat-based pizzas on this list. Don’t worry, though. We didn’t forget about the vegetarians. Whether you’re enjoying spinach, arugula, jalapenos, bell peppers, or onions on your pizza, there is a wine to pair with it.
Vegetarian-styled pizzas typically are topped with some kind of sweet dressing like vinaigrette. For that reason, you should go for a wine that has some tartness to it but is also subtle enough to not overpower the veggies. Some recommendations include Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja, and Veltliner.
Prosecco and Chardonnay also match well with vegetable pizzas. Look for a wine that isn’t going to interfere with the flavors of the vegetables. Your wine should have some very gentle notes of fruit or herbs like citrus. Avoid wines with too many different notes in their palates.
Pizza and wine make for a perfect party
The light, airy taste of a rich wine paired with a hearty tomato sauce, warm, thick cheese, and a crunchy, blackened crust is absolutely heaven-sent. At the end of the day, your taste preferences will guide you on your journey to choosing the right wine.
There are no steadfast rules in pairing these two components. However, some people abide by the old theory that you should pair the ingredients of your wine with similar ingredients in your pizza. For instance, if your pizza has pineapple on it, maybe you should choose a wine that has hints of pineapple or a fruit similar to it.
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