Traditionally it’s not so common to combine wine with pizza often by habit or because of the belief that dish so simple as pizza can’t be associated with gourmet cuisine. However, old traditions can be modified to become new and the combination of pizza and wine – as well as champagne – can be more than interesting. Nowadays pizza recipes go beyond traditional, and the ingredients range from vegetables to cold meats. Pairing wine with a pizza is no longer something so unusual.
The Logic Behind the Pizza and Wine Matching
We have all been tempted by the delicious appearance of a freshly made pizza. Napolitana, Margarita, Cuatro Quesos, etc. The popularity of this dish with Italian origin has generated many different varieties, and it has been adapted to the local flavor of each region. The food in most European areas tastes the way it does because of the taste of local wine and vice versa. They are significantly going to influence one another. While choosing the perfect wine to accompany your pizza, the first thing to keep in mind is a pizza topping. Today, we can find just about as many pizza toppings out there as there are wine varieties so things can get a little complicated.
Fundamental characteristic of white pizza is that it does not have tomato sauce. This less traditional pizza can be composed of béchamel sauce or even spinach and zucchini. A Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and even some sparkling wines are good options to keep in mind if you prefer less traditional pizzas with no tomato sauce.
Traditional Tomato Sauce Pizza
For a pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella, ham or other cold meats such as cantimpalo, you have to take into account the predominant acidity of the tomato sauce itself before choosing the right wine. For this reasons fruit wine with low acidity is going to combine well so that it does not mix with the ingredients. One of the wines that also work very well with the most traditional pizzas is Syrah medium-bodied wine which goes very well with the rich and fatty content of the mozzarella or cheese, especially strong and pungent blue cheese, a provolone or fontina.
Soft pizzas with sweet and salty combination stick good with young wines, with high acidity. Thus, whites or rosés are good companions for this type of pizzas. They also go well with sparkling wines or slightly sweet wines.
On the other hand, strong pizzas made with pepperoni or serrano ham demand to be paired with red full-bodied wines. Stronger topping cheese requires a bit heavier and oak ageing wine. Acidity matches really good with the cheese. If you have pizza with great intensity topping like sausage, choose wine with an excellent aromatic profile like Sangiovese or Cabernet Franc.
As for the vegetable pizzas, their perfect pairing is made with light white wines which are not going to compete with components in a vegetarian pizza. Unoaked Chardonnay is an excellent choice because it won’t overpower the flavour of the vegetables. Sparkling wines and even slightly sweet wines are a just as good choice with this type of pizzas.
The pizzas with different types of meats, whether chicken, veal or bacon, are best combined with the young, aromatic and fruity red wines with good acidity. The best thing to go with is Italian red wine. The tannins in red wines will also greatly enhance meat flavour, while fatness of meat will cancel dryness sensation in the mouth which is produced by the tannins in red wine.