Pizza and Wine Pairing – Perfect Matching
Though I am a big fan of the undeniable matching of pizza with beer, that is not to say wine isn’t also a great compliment to a delicious slice. When it comes to pairing win with pizza, the general rule of thumb is to think about the toppings and what wine you’d drink with those ingredients on their own. Here’s some commnon pizza pies and, for those nights when I pass on a cool brew, the wines like to pour along side them.
Classic Margarita Pizza
Nothing beats a classic margarita pizza, with umami-rich tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and fresh, fragrant basil, this simple yet comforting pizza is not overpowering, but still packs some fat content from the cheese and savoury elements from the tomatoes. When picking a wine, you want something that has structure and some biting acidity to match, but nothing that will overpower the pie. Sparkling wines, red or white, are good options here, as long as they are young, fresh, crisp and dry. A Lambrusco is a fun option, but a pet-nat or crémant would also be lovely.
Sparkling wine makes a great alternative to beer when pairing wine with a classic Margarita pizza
Meat pizzas – be it pepperoni, salami, sausage, or ham – take your pie to the next level in terms of savoury, fatty elements. Of course, some meats are fattier than others, but any of them will deliver a mouth-watering unctuousness will that calls for a wine with a fair bit of acidity as well as some minerality and tannin. For the really fatty meats or heavily loaded meat pies, go for a dry, cool climate red, not too full bodied, like a younger Rioja or Syrah from the Rhône Valley would be fantastic. If you just have a few pieces of prosciutto on top or something a little less intense, a lighter, chilled red – something like a Beaujolais or Dolcetto – would suit.
Though some people might not dig the idea of seafood pizza, others can’t say no to a clam or prawn-topped pie (if you need convincing, Melbourne’s Lazer Pig has a Prawn Fraser pizza that has been known to win people over). For these pizzas, think about wines you would drink with a steaming pot of mussels, sautéed clams or a buttery prawn pasta – go for an aromatic white that has some body and complexity and is quite fruity – a Vigonier, Riesling, French Rosé, or even an un-oaked, minerally Chardonnay would compliment a slice of this beautifully.
Spicy Pizza and Pineapple Pizza
For those who like their pizzas loaded with spice, either from chili oil, peppers, spiced salumi or hot sauce, firey heat is tends to take over the palate. To cool something to intense, you need something a little bit sweet with enough structure to stand up to the flavours. A Loire Valley Chenin Blanc or Vouvray or an off-dry Riesling or Gewurtztraminer would do the trick. Also, these wines are good matches if you’re one of those who goes for pineapple on pizza, as the harsh combination of acidity and sweetness calls for an equally balanced wine.
If you love your pizzas topped with eggplant, rocket, broccoli or other veggies, you want something fresh and invigorating with plenty of acidity, and also a good amount of structure. Italian Soave is a good option, as are many Sauvignon Blancs. The cheesier your veggie pizza, the more you want a Sauv Blanc in the style of the Loire Valley – dry and zesty. If you’re talking mostly veggies (often the case if you’re lactose-free), a New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blanc is deal, as it is a bit more herbaceous and grassy, which works well with a fresh mix of vegetables.
Veggie-loaded pizzas go well with with acidity, refreshing wines that still have quite a bit of structure, like a Sauvignon Blanc
Anchovy, Garlic, Olive or Caper-topped Pizza
Last but not least (my favourite!), are pizzas topped with salty, bold, strong flavours like anchovies, olives, capers and garlic. Here, you need something quite bracing to cut through these sharp ingredients. A full, powerful white does the trick, such as a Chablis or and Aussie Chardonnay. Then again, beer does pretty darn well here.
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