Pizza is a staple in many diets. Whether you're a meat-lover, vegetarian, red sauce aficionado, white sauce only, or overtly opinionated in the pineapple-no pineapple debate, there's a pie out there for you. When it comes to pairing wine with pizza, there are a range of great options. The key is to not get stuck and overthink it. There are, however, a few guidelines to steer you in the right direction when it comes to creating that match-made-in-heaven pizza wine combo.
Which Wine Goes With Which Pizza?
There's a place for bubbles, whites, and reds alongside your pie, so don't discriminate here. Lean into a wine that vibes with your pizza toppings, or better yet, a pizza that vibes with your wine.
Bubbles and pizza? Absolutely. Nothing refreshes the palate better than sparkling wine. While Champagne is equally as wine friendly, it feels slightly more appropriate to stay in the Italian vein and go with prosecco. These light, straightforward bubbles from Veneto are a perfect pairing for your briny puttanesca.
A bone-dry rosé pét-nat is bright, bubbly, and has just the right amount of body to go with pizza. You want to choose one with puckering tartness to match any sauce and hold its own. Think rosé of pinot noir or carignan.
These can vary greatly from Old World to New World, but the grape itself has racing acidity, which is the perfect match for a white pizza loaded with rich cheese, mushroom, and truffle. The clean, crisp nature of this wine is just what you need to cut through the decadent nature of a white pie.
This is the loud kid in the room. Hailing from Emilia-Romagna, it's a juicy, poppy sparkling red, served chilled. A real gem with pizza, this purple-hued, medium bodied wine has notes of blackberry, cherry, and violet with brilliant acidity. Look for a dry--or secco--bottle to pair with your spicy soppressata and mozzarella pizza.
This light bodied red is equally light at heart and is full of juicy brambly fruit and delicate floral aromas. Because of its naturally high acidity, it's a great pizza wine. Gamay has a real drinkability about it. It's casual, inexpensive and full of of flavor. Try a classic Beaujolais gamay, an Oregon gamay, or one from Switzerland. Put a slight chill on it.
A classic for a reason, sangiovese feels embedded in pizza culture. This bright and savory wine is full of sour cherry and plum, with hints of pepper. Stay old-school and find one from Tuscany, or for a fresher vibe, look for a New World carbonic sangiovese. Either will pair great with a garlic and oregano-infused red sauce, pepperoni, and olives.
This lesser known grape is from Piemonte and has beautiful bright notes of strawberry with floral and white pepper aromas. A bit of an avant-garde wine, pelaverga's relaxed and unassuming nature makes it easy to love. Lighter bodied with great acidity, it's incredibly drinkable and food friendly. Chill it alongside your favorite slice.
Primarily grown in Sicily, nero d'avola is full-bodied with strong flavors of black cherry, black plum, and tobacco. Higher acidity allows this wine to stand up to a red sauce pizza loaded with toppings. This bold and slightly spicy wine pairs wonderfully with savory meat forward pizzas.
Basics of Wine-Pizza Pairings
When it comes to wine and pizza pairings, understanding a few key elements of taste will go a long way in helping you choose your pizza wine.
Acidity in your pizza enhances the body of your wine and brings out the fruity characteristics. Generally, red sauce pizzas will need a high acid wine to match to avoid having the wine appear flabby and flat. High acid wines also balance out the richness and fattiness of a cheese pizza by cutting through the fat, leaving your mouth feeling refreshed.
That fullness, or lack thereof, in your mouth when drinking a wine is an indicator of how much body it has. Think of your pizza as having body too. Does it have caramelized onion, mozzarella, sausage, and a whole lot more? If so, its likely going to need an equally full bodied wine to stand up to it. If your pizza is lighter on sauce, cheese, and toppings, find a wine that matches. Remember, pair like with like.
Once you add up the crust, cheese and potential meat, pizza is salty by nature. Salt in food is super wine-friendly as it enhances the fruit characteristics and softens tannins. It can, however, decrease the perception of acid in a wine, so an acidic wine makes the best pairing with your slice.
Sweetness in your pizza will increase the perception of bitterness and acidity in your wine while masking the wine's fruity characteristics. If you order a sweet Italian sausage with honey glazed crust, you want to look for a slightly fuller-bodied wine with some residual sugar to match the pizza.
Tannins create that bitter or astringent feeling, leaving a dryness in your mouth. When you think of pizza toppings, most are rich and fatty, like cheese and meat, or acidic and fresh, like tomatoes and arugula, so bitterness won't be as common. However, if you were to have a topping like radicchio, you want to avoid a tannic red wine, as it will only increase the perception of bitterness in both your pizza and your drink.
Making that Perfect Match
A blistered wood-fired pizza paired with the right wine is kinda what dreams are made of. Take into account your sauce, meat, and cheese, then choose a like-minded wine with bracing acidity. Follow your instincts and don't take it too seriously!