A magic word to me… and many many of you. There isn’t much more relaxed and casual comfort food with friends than pizza.
And when you say to me pizza and friends, then I immediately think wine. It looks like I’m not the only one! It’s THE food matching question I get asked.
So, I decided to create a full article covering the subject. I will be looking at the different styles and types of pizzas and what wines to best pair with them.
Firstly, I would like to quickly explain some of the logic behind this. When you look at what makes the taste of a pizza, I think, you’ll agree it isn’t the dough. What really is going to give pizza its taste are the toppings. Tomato, cheese, fish, seafood, fruit, meat, spices are all going to be the dominant tastes and flavours and they will influence what wine we choose to pair our pizza with.
So I’m going to break down the different types of pizza into different categories and we’ll look at what wines best match each category.
IMPORTANT: I believe the best matches in food come when you match a local dish to a local food.
The local food in most European areas tastes the way it does, because of the taste of the local wine and vice-versa. They have developed together, hand in hand for hundreds of years and greatly influence one another.
That is why, I will always try to match local dishes to the wines of the region. And this is especially true with Pizza.
You will therefore see Italian wines dominate this article.. I will recommend some non-italian wines now and again, just to give you a wider choice when you can’t find the Italian wines I suggest.
White Pizza/ Pizza al Bianco
These are pizzas or pizze (the plural of pizza in Italian), that don’t have tomato sauce
Eg..Truffle Pizza, Pizza al Tartuffo, Broccoli and sausage
Whereas pizza with tomato sauce is best enjoyed with red wine, these pizze are often going to be better suited to white wines.
This is especially true with stronger cheese than mozzarella, where white wine is better suited than red.
Basic white pizza
We’re looking for a round white wine of medium intensity so as not overpower the cheese.
Strong Cheese White Pizz
Here, we need a rounder, richer white wine to match the power of the cheese.
A Malvasia can be great, especially the oaked versions
Vermentino di Sardegna
Chardonnay with a bit of oak, from California, Burgundy or Australia can be interesting
White Pizza with Truffles
This is a complex one, because of the powerful taste of truffles.
You can go with a rather powerful aged white wine or a complex red.
Old Tuscan Chardonnay. Or a Vermentino will also pair beautifully
Barolo, especially with white truffle. a wine pairing for kings!
Outside Italy I am thinking Pinot Noir from Oregon or Burgundy would be best.
White pizza with sausage and broccoli or friarielli
Here the fatness of the sausage will again need an ample and intense white wine.
Fiano di Avellino, a wine from Campania (the province of Naples) is a personal favourite with this pizza, truly a wonderful match.
White pizza with crab or lobster, pizza al granchio or aragosta
Often this pizza is going to be served with fresh cherry tomatoes and sometimes chili.
Another grape variety from Campania is ideal to pair with this pizza:
Greco di Tufo, which is aromatic and intense will ignite your palate with this pizza… a perfect match.
PIZZA WITH TOMATO BASE
The tomato sauce here calls for red wines, although certain more intense white wines might work well, especially for seafood and fish pizza.
Margherita, spinach, ortolana, parmigiana, funghi, mushroom
For these types of pizza, we can go with either red or white.
However, when there are mushrooms you should favour red wines.
Look for aromatic whites such Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Falanghina which will also have the roundness to pair with the cheese.
Sangiovese will be brilliant alongside the acidity and earthiness of the tomato, especially when the recipe includes mushroom
Think Chianti, Morellino di Scansano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
You could also opt for Barbera d’Alba from Piemonte, or a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
From outside Italy, why not go for a Gamay from Beaujolais?
Calzone, boscaiola, capricciosa, chicken Pizza, pollo, quatro staggioni, four seasons, diavola, spicy sausage, pepperoni, reggina, proscutto e formaggio, prosciutto and cheese.
The choice of wine will depend again on the ingredients. The more intense tasting recipes, especially the spicy dishes will call for warmer wines with a lower acidity and tannin.
These types of wines will also be good alongside the saltiness of certain cured meats.
For these types of pizze, pair with Southern rich and luscious reds.
Salice Salentino, Primitivo from Puglia, Negroamaro and Agianico will be great matches, so will a good Nero d’Avola from Sicily.
Outside Italy, Zinfandel, round Merlot from Chile could be great too.
For the lighter ingredients, recipes with mushrooms, look for more earthiness and freshness.
Here again, Sangiovese is a great pairing. But you could also go to wines from up North such as Teroldego.
If you want to look outside Italy, Pinot Noir can be a lovely choice.
Quattro formaggi, four cheeses, chicken, pollo, Caccio e Peppe
In these pizze, the main dominating taste is cheese or cheeses.
The best wine to match with cheese is white wine, and here I make no exception when I recommend white wines to go with these types of pizze.
The wines however need to be a bit rich and intense to match the cheese.
I think Pecorino is great to enjoy along these pizze.
You could also go for Chardonnay from Friuli and Alto-Adige.
Oak aged Orvieto will also be great.
Outside Italy, a round Chardonnay or maybe a Viognier will be splendid.
Fish and seafood pizza
Marinara, seafood, salmon, salmone, siciliana
Here the dominating taste is going to be that of fish or seafood.
Of course, for these types of pizza I am going to recommend a pairing with white wines.
Wines with a lot of expression, a good aromatic profile will be ideal.
Think of Southern Italy white wines and white wines from the islands which will fit this profile.
Falanghina from Campania, or also from Puglia will be great.
Fiano d’Avellino.. of course a fantastic match
Greco di Tufo, or Sannio, or Falerno Bianco will also be beautiful matches.
Vermentino from Sardinia, or in Sicily Malvasia, Grillo or Grecanico will be stunning too.
Albarino from Spain, white Grenache from Southern France, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa could also superb!
As you can see, there are many pairings you can go for with your pizza.
Remember that the base, is basically just like bread and is going to have very little influence on the pairing.
What you need to match are the toppings, thinking first of all on the dominant taste, and trying to match that taste with your wine.
From there try and match the different flavours.
Have I forgotten any really important pizza recipe? Are there any wine matches I should have added?
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so don’t hesitate to leave me your feedback in the comment section below!