A good bottle of wine is like a magnifying glass for your food. It can draw out the nuances of flavor that had previously been only hinted at. It can provide a scintillating and intriguing challenge to your palate that adds depth and mystique to even the most bland and familiar of foods. It can also make your favorite meals unbearable and add a sour note to previously well known and beloved tastes. The secret, of course, lies in making the perfect wine pairings for your food.
We all know that a heady shiraz or cabernet sauvignon is the perfect accompaniment to steak while fish should never be enjoyed without a crisp riesling a fruity sparkling rose. Nevertheless, there’s surprisingly little consensus when it comes to pairing wines with that most sacred of foods… Pizza. The great thing about pizza is that when a pizza’s good it’s very, very good. And when it’s bad… It’s still pretty good. Plus, there are so many kinds of pizza from deep-dish Chicago-style pies loaded with toppings and fillings to super thin Italian styles with simple flavors that speak for themselves that whatever your tastes there’s bound to be something to love.
Topping it off
When pairing wines with pizzas it’s best to approach your choices based on what’s going on top. Keep in mind, however, that the density of the crust, the quality of the ingredients and the kinds of cheese used will all subtly alter the combination of flavors and textures. Let’s take a look at some favorite toppings and the perfect wines to accompany them. Oh, and if you find that your cellar is getting a little sparse take a look at this great online wine store. Here you’ll find everything you need for harmonious pizza pairings. Okay, let’s get started…
Cheese / margherita
If you want to keep it traditional, you may want a simple pizza topped only with mozzarella cheese and a few basil leaves just like the Italians do. Or you might want to mix it up by adding some sharper cheeses like feta, gorgonzola or parmesan into the mix. In either case, you’ll want a deep, rich wine with an acidity that counteracts the potentially cloying mildness of the cheese. For this reason a Montepulciano ‘Abruzzo is the only choice.
If you prefer simple yet strong flavors it’s likely that you plump for a pepperoni. You’ll want a wine that can hold its own against all those spices in the sausage without things getting over complicated. A Cabernet Franc or Sangiovese will be more than up to the challenge!
If you want a bold flavor that’s not quite as powerful as pepperoni, BBQ chicken may be your pizza of choice. Be sure to complement the smoky flavors of the chicken with an equally smoky and intriguing Malbec or a Portugese Touriga Nacional. These will play well against the smokiness and the sweetness of the barbecue sauce.
Veggie / vegan
Vegetarians or vegans will want to load their pizza with fresh vegetables which will lend the pizza a certain acidity. Likewise, if you opt for a vegan cheese you may find that it has a certain piquancy that’s absent from its dairy-based counterpart. In either case, I’d recommend a white with a similar flavor profile like an unoaked Chardonnay (which can lend a pleasing buttery flavor to non-dairy cheeses) or a Savignon Blanc.