When picking a wine to serve with pizza, match with the primary ingredient or opt for a terrific all rounder, such as a bottle of rosé or prosecco.
Since first appearing in Naples in the 1700s, pizza has emerged as the ultimate comfort food across the globe. Endlessly customisable, easily adaptable, it’s the rare fast food that can be family friendly, extremely refined, a budget choice or an expensive blowout. From a slim Neapolitan slice to a deep dish Chicago style tranche, there are so many varieties that you might think that choosing the right wine to accompany your dish might be tricky. But rest assured: there’s no need to overthink what works well. Pizza is, at its heart, an informal, casual delight - and so should the drink be alongside it.
Firstly it is important to recognise that the term “pizza” covers a lot of different dishes. The match you find for a dense, delicious pasty-like calzone may well be very different to the perfect pairing for a prime slim slice of St Louis pizza. The most important element to consider is what your primary topping will be. For instance, if you’re ordering pepperoni, pick a bottle that is going to have enough body to stand up to the spicy meat circles. Accordingly, vegetarian pizzas benefit from having a bottle of wine that isn’t too shouty and brash. If you’re going to opt for a four-cheese pizza, you may need something tart and nimble to help cut through the creaminess - and for olives, you need a bottle of wine that is going to help enhance those savoury flavours. If you’re going to hold out for a Hawaiian, you need something that is going to pair nicely with pineapple (a German Riesling does the trick).
If this all appears far too complicated, or you are ordering a few bottles to accompany a mixture of dishes, pick a universal favourite. In the majority of cases, whatever your choice of topping the core ingredients are going to be based on that of the Margarita. As such you’ll need a bright, fruity and precise wine that pairs well with the creaminess of the cheese and the acidity of the tomato base. As such a GSM (a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) will be a failsafe option. Alternatively if you are a pizza purist and insist on only ordering margaritas, then it may be worth exploring a delicate rose - much like a sprig of basil, it lifts the whole experience to another level.
For perfect pizza wine for any occasion we recommend:
Ammazza Montepulciano 2019
A robust blast of dark berry: the definition of ‘Wow!’
Dogajolo Carpineto 2018, Toscana
With just a hint of oak, this “Baby Tuscan” can cope no matter how stacked the slice.
Routes Catalanes Rouge 2019, Côtes Catalanes
Intensely flavoured with heaps of deep red fruit.
If you prefer an Italian sausage or pepperoni pizza, choose your accompanying beverage more carefully: a lightly chilled Chianti is a good first call. Pepperoni in particular is a very strong flavour, thanks in part to the spices contained within and also because of its high fat content (which leaks, deliciously, into the cheese on each slice). Sangiovese (the main grape used to make Chianti) is never a bad choice as it can cope with whatever porky flavours can be thrown at it, mouthful after mouthful, and the good acidity keeps it refreshing.
If you’re truly stuck, prosecco is also a sure fire winner when it comes to wine pairing. The effervescent crowd pleaser responses well with the key ingredients, bringing pep, acidity and freshness. Something crisp and lively can pair perfectly with the chewy, creamy pizza in question. And if that still doesn’t work? Pick up a beer - a cold bottle of Birra Moretti would be pizza perfection.