Wine was invented roughly 2000 years before pizza. During that time, pairing wine and food has been done all over the globe. Most cultures that still exist today have created some type of wine, or spirit, and paired it with food.
Pizza is thought to have been invented in Naples in the 18th century. There is much folklore about how/why this happened, but the world is just glad it did. It is so easy to imagine when this creation found its way into existence, the Italians immediately thought about what wine goes best with pizza.
In this piece, we will break down the answer to that question, and why. We will look at the main flavor profiles of different pizzas, and pair them with wines. Hopefully, we will create some fantastic wine with pizza combinations.
We must start with the foundation of pizza, the Margarita. A simple, yet effective, list of ingredients. You will only find the dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, perhaps a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, as well as optional basil on this masterpiece.
These classic Italian ingredients and flavors go excellently with a classic Italian wine. Look no further than a Chianti Classico. Chianti Classico is one of the most heralded Italian wines, and it is so common to see this wine with pizza.
The result is a dry, well-tannin-leveled red wine. There are floral notes, with a crispness that is characteristic of this blend. This wine cuts brilliantly along the zingy, minerality of the tomato sauce, along with the more dense fat of the cheese and oil. The crisp chew of the dough supports this all brilliantly.
You can find this wine all over the world. One of the brilliant aspects of this wine is that it has very strict categorization rules. This means the producer has to follow quite strict guidelines to gain the title of Chianti Classico. What results is a wildly consistent grape varietal, so you don’t have to guess what wine goes best with pizza.
A Meat Option
There have been so many innovations with pizza over the years. Modern ingredients and techniques have developed this almost into its own food group. As pizza travels to different countries, different cultures add their unique flavors to pizza.
One of the innovations has been putting meat onto a pizza. There are so many different ways of doing this. From the hugely popular pepperoni to a more artisanal sausage, even as far as a barbecue chicken pizza. We feel that instead of creating specific wine pairings for each of these options, we will suggest a wine that works for all.
When thinking about what wine goes with pizza, heavier options are often considered. A wonderful choice is a Barbera. Either Barbera D’Asti or Barbera D’Alba are some of the more heralded varieties of this grape.
The Barbera grape produces a low tannin, fuller-bodied wine. The flavors are more robust, with enhanced fruit flavors. There is quite a low spice and acidity level, making it a much smoother wine.
Pairing this wine with pizza is a great move, especially a meat pizza. The full-bodied nature of it stands up wonderfully to the flavor of meat, as well as the heft of the mozzarella and tomato.
A White Base
A huge deviation from the traditional Margarita was the omission of the tomato sauce. It probably seemed insane at the time, but removing one of the 4 key ingredients gave room for something thrilling.
The tomato sauce and cheese combo had clearly taken the hearts of the American immigrants who brought it over to the new world centuries ago. The American style of pizza is now famous globally, with the ‘New York Style’ finding its name plastered all over shops. There are so many innovations of Italian food created in America, none more brilliant than the white clam pie.
The white clam pizza is simply the base, with no tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, romano cheese, fresh white clams, garlic, and oregano. The pizza is then baked, as usual, served to highlight the freshness of the clams and the quality of the dough.
Invented in Rhode Island in the 1960s, this is now a globally recognized pizza. When thinking about what wine goes with pizza, you have more options here. The traditional Italian red would work, of course. However, pairing the right white wine could be a game-changer.
In our most niche pairing yet, a Portuguese white wine would go brilliantly here. Specifically a Vinho Verde, particularly from the producer's Villa Nova. This wine is a citrus-forward, low-minerality white wine. The zingy fruit flavors complement the fresh seafood, creamy cheese, and fragrant herb flavors.
These are our 3 recommendations for what wine goes best with pizza. Of course, it is all about the quality of the pizza, and your preferred flavor combinations, but these are great options to start. To find the right combination for you, enjoy the process of finding new pizza and wine combinations!