Pizza and wine
Every pizza has its wine. But which one? Here's our ultimate guide!
Which wine? It depends!
Wood-fire or electric? Flour or multi-grain? Red or white? Sourdough only? And how many hours of rising? 12, 24, 72?
Forget about it! The most difficult question about pizza is another: what do I pair it with? Enough with that standard belief: you don’t have to drink beer with pizza, wine is great, actually it’s… perfect! Even if the dough can determine different aromas, it is undoubtedly the topping that decides the best wine to uncork in the company of a pizza.
There aren't many rules. Pairing pizza is like pairing pasta: of course we have to consider the delicate sweetness of the dough, whether it is more enveloping, more rustic, more hydrated or drier, it is always what goes on top that determines the right pairing. As for us, we suggest pairings with excellent value for money Italian wines. Wines that go well with pizza also in terms of price. Because there is no well-made pizza that, accompanied by the right glass, does not become gourmet.
A long history
Modern pizza, born in Naples between the 16th and 17th centuries, has come a long way! From being a purely popular food, it soon conquered the most refined palates, so much so that today's most famous version, the margherita, took this name in 1889 when pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito dedicated it to the Queen of Italy, Margherita, composing it in the colours of the Italian tricolour.
Today, the art of the Neapolitan pizzaiolo is included on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage and the Neapolitan pizza is protected by production regulations that establishes once and for all the exclusively Italian origins of this gastronomic masterpiece. "Pizza” is now the most famous and most pronounced Italian word in the world.
The classic. Margherita. So, oil, basil, tomato sauce and mozzarella, better if it's buffalo mozzarella from Campania. Then you can add whatever you want, from Parma ham to fresh octopus. A piece of Italian history and creativity, protected with UNESCO World Heritage status. A white wine is weak (unless it is the marinara, which is lighter), a red kills it. A go to? Your favourite rosé... or go by our suggestions!
We recommend: a Chiaretto del Garda or an Etna rosé, or, if the pizza is more full-bodied and seasoned, a Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, a rosé from Salento or a great rosé from Tuscany. A classic Lambrusco, which is young and fruity, may also fit the bill.
Fancy a red? If your pizza is rich in spices, perhaps a little chili hot, or if it includes particularly savoury sauces or salted anchovies, a red may be the best choice! But choose a red with nice aromas, dynamic, youthful and never too structured.
We recommend: Tuscan reds from Bolgheri and Chianti, but only from steel, or Piedmontese reds from table grapes such as Barbera and Dolcetto. Young Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, such as Morellino, but also fragrant, summery native reds from the South: Nero d'Avola, Gaglioppo, Negroamaro... try the taut, dynamic reds from the North-East, including a fine Pinot Noir, but not a Riserva.
The classic pizza with cheese. It usually excludes tomatoes. The best ones are a great mix. There is the four-cheese pizza, or with gorgonzola. In any case, even powerful cheeses with strong aromas.
We can eat it with a white aged wine, muscular and structured but also fresh, because it cuts the fat and quenches your thirst, at the same time well counterbalancing the pronounced aromaticity of ingredients such as mushrooms or the full-bodied fatness of lard or pancetta, for example. Consistent ingredients such as potatoes or luganega sausage even call for, for those who want to experiment, whites lightly macerated on the skins and aged on their own yeasts.
We recommend: Tuscan whites that spend more time on the lees or in wood, or native whites from various parts of Italy with a natural structure or powerful aroma, but at the same time strong acidity, such as Fiano, Verdicchio, Garganega, Pecorino, Friulano, Ribolla, Trebbiano Abruzzese, especially reserves or superior. The more full-bodied chardonnays are excellent, even from the south. If the pizza is very intense in terms of aromas and savoury on the palate, a nice, soft, aromatic Gewürztraminer is also excellent, or the imposing structure of a Pinot Grigio.
If the fatness is particularly pronounced, perhaps due to a burrata or stringy cheese in large quantities, even a medium-aged bubbly can do the trick. If you’re eating a pizza with gorgonzola, don't worry: a beautifully soft and Mediterranean red wine is the right choice, you can also dare with a slightly more corpulent structure!
We recommend: long Charmat method sparkling wines or classic method sparkling wines with a short ageing period on the lees. A Fiano di Avellino will be ideal for territorial pairings. In the case of intense gorgonzola, the typical soft and somewhat Southern rustic reds: Montepulciano, Aglianico, Primitivo, but also Shiraz, Lagrein, Refosco, for their elegance and softness, can give satisfaction without being too much in terms of body.
Vegan? We prefer to call it "yellow". Because, even if based on vegetables, a touch of mozzarella or caciotta cheese is never a bad thing. From zucchini to cherry tomatoes, from anchovies to salsa verde. There is something for everyone. But there is a common denominator, even if you like spices: go white, even tight and fresh, and you can't go wrong. Some pleasant Mediterranean aromatic notes will be ideal if the pizza also includes fish, for example classic tuna, or perhaps seared octopus: fantastic!
We recommend: thin, fresh and elegant whites in the young version, from steel only and vintage. Verdicchio, Garganega, Cortese, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Grillo, Lugana, Orvieto, and all the more fragrant Arneis, Insolia, Vermentino, Erbaluce, Falanghina, but also Pinot Bianco and Sylvaner.
If you just can't make do without a bubbly, which perhaps cleans the mouth from the pungent aroma of a braised onion, a label of beautiful aromas and jovial freshness is perfect.
We recommend: all the young, floral and fruity Charmat method wines, like Prosecco, preferably brut, but also pas dosé or extrabrut.
What is gourmet pizza? Definitely a trend. A chic pizza with super-selected and expensive ingredients which makes a great impression. But for us, pizza remains the noblest of street foods, the most aristocratic of Italian popular foods. Our gourmet pizza is the classic one, simple and genuine, with the best local products and entrusting them to the creative hands of the pizzaiolo: this is our favourite gourmet pizza!
You can't pass up a pizza with wild salmon and New Caledonian blue shrimp, with a lobster sauce sprinkled with lime and shavings of white Alba truffle and historic Bitto cheese aged for ten years? In this case, we suggest you don't skimp on the goodies at your table and uncork a great classic method sparkling wine. It is pizza that will decide whether it is white, Blanc de Noirs or rosé, whether it is medium or long aged, depending on the complexity or intensity of the ingredients and the presence or absence of tomato. It must obviously be at least a Pachino IGP crushed by hand in a mortar!