Pizza is one of Italy’s great culinary gifts to the world, and UNESCO recently declared it a skill of intangible Italian cultural heritage. In the United States pizza is the ultimate casual, fun food, which probably explains why people in the U.S. eat something around 3 billion pizzas every year.
Beer is typically seen as a classic go-to for pizza night, but for me wine with pizza is just meant to be.
In Italy we say that it’s just like “cacio sui maccheroni” which means it’s a perfect match just like pecorino cheese on top of pasta. Like bacon and eggs, fish and chips or cookies and cream, they are made for each other.
When considering wine pairings, there are a multitude of wines that will match your choice of pizza. The pairing will not only depend on the type of sauce, but also the toppings, which make a world of difference in the flavors of the pizza and its compatibility with a wine.
Whether you’re ordering in from your local brick oven spot, enjoying it in a fancy restaurant or crafting your own pizza with handpicked ingredients, the right glass of wine will complement the delicious flavors of your favorite pizza.
What wine to drink with pizza? Red, white or sparkling? There are two important things to consider when pairing pizza and wine-weight and body, basically the heaviness of the flavors. It’s best to match the intensity level of the wine with the richness of the pizza. If one is too strong or has too much body, it can easily overpower the flavor of the other. Flavors must work together harmoniously to create a delicious dining experience.
When it comes to combining wine with pizza, they can be grouped in three categories: red pizzas, white pizzas and pizzas with toppings.
Red pizzas are those with tangy tomato sauce base, with or without cheese like Marinara or Margherita and with only few other simple ingredients. Tomatoes provide an acidic and fresh component.
These types of pizzas should not be paired with wines with a marked acidity or excessively tannic wines. We suggest dry rosé wines or light reds.
White pizzas are usually topped with rich cheeses. A typical example is Four Cheese pizza.
These pizzas pair best with white wine with good acidity, freshness and aromatic intensity, so that the acid component of the wine harmonizes with and balances the richness of the ingredients.
Pizzas with deeply savory toppings can be paired with more advanced, structured wines with complex aromas in accordance with the topping. So, the earthiness of a Mushroom pizza will be well supported by a savory, complex wine like Chianti from Tuscany.
A spicier topping such as Pepperoni will dominate the pizza’s flavor and may be able to harmonize better with a wine with a bit more attitude, such a red from Puglia.
A pizza rich in ingredients and fatness such as Capricciosa needs a structured but also long-limbed wine, which balances it with a good fresh acidity and aromatic intensity. Try it with a Merlot from Friuli Venezia Giulia.
If you like vegetables on pizza, think about a wine that’s not going to compete with the mix of components going on in a Vegetarian pizza. An unoaked Chardonnay like a Provincia di Pavia IGT is a good place to start. With its gentle notes of citrus and herbs, it complements the similar flavors of the vegetables perfectly.
When in doubt, go for sparkling wines like Prosecco (white or rosé) or like Lambrusco. They will help cut through the doughy-ness and act as a palate cleanser. Sparkling wines go with a great variety of toppings, making them a great choice to share with the whole table.
And lastly, if you are looking at what to pair with an exotic pizza like Pineapple pizza…. please don’t ask us. We help only with Italian recipes.