Pairing Wine with Pizza, the Perfect Combination

Another repost from the wonderful Armchair Sommelier for you guys today, of which I am a contributing writer. If you love learning the nuances of wine with none of the snobbery, be sure to check them out! For now, enjoy a quick and dirty post on pairing wine with pizza.

Pizza on a wood board with white wine.

Perfectly Pairing Wine Pairing with Pizza

There are a number of similarities between wine and pizza. For starters, they’re both great for any occasion, and you could spend your whole life trying every type out there… though that wouldn’t be very good for your waistline.

There’s an endless number of wine and pizza combinations to be made, and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. That’s why I’m going to give you the tools you need to narrow down your search to that perfect bottle for your next pizza night.

Thankfully, at the end of the day, we’re still talking about pizza and wine. Even if the pairing isn’t your style – what’s the worst that could happen?

Flavor Combinations

The pizza world is buzzing with creativity (as is the wine world), so it’s impossible to go over every pairing assortment. Here are a couple of good rules of thumb:

When food is salty, wine seems more fruity and less bitter- Savory pizzas with pepperoni, sausage, olives, etc., need red wines with high tannins. Think Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo.

When food is highly flavored, wine can easily be overpowered- Pizzas with a lot going on, like Hawaiian or BBQ chicken, will be overpowered by delicate and aromatic wines. Match flavor for flavor, go with Syrah or Zinfandel.

When food is fatty/oily, wine seems less acidic- Pizzas with white sauce, oil, and/or pesto will need a high-acid wine to cut through all that good stuff. Think sparkling wine, Rosé, dry Riesling, or Pinot Gris.

When food is acidic, wine seems more fruity and sweet- Tomato sauce is high acid, so if that’s the star ingredient, then pair it with a high-acid wine like Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Now, if you’re like me then you’re probably thinking “What if my pizza is salty, highly flavored, fatty and acidic?!”

Don’t fret! Just try to think of the richest ingredient on the pie and trust your instincts. This should be fun – not rocket science.

Best White Wines and Rosé Wines to Pair with Pizza

White wines are great with fatty/oily pizzas, spicy pizzas, or pizzas without tomato or a lot of meat. High-acid whites will cut through oily pizzas, while wines with subtle sweetness will align nicely with spicy pizza.

Dry Riesling, Willamette Valley

If you’ve always thought of Riesling as being syrupy and sweet, get ready to have your mind blown. Riesling is one of the most diverse white grapes around, with every level of sweetness you could possibly imagine! I’m going 100% dry today so as to provide a nice bright acidity with delicate tree fruit and citrus notes.

Pizza Pairing: Pizza Bianca (pizza with white sauce)

Gewürztraminer, Pfalz

Gewürztraminer is about as fun to drink as it is fun to say! I love this wine, with its vibrant lychee and tropical notes. The subtle sweetness makes this the perfect compliment to a savory pizza. It would taste even better if you add red pepper flakes to your next slice!

Pizza Pairing: Pizza Carbonara (Pancetta, mushrooms & egg)

Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine pairing with any high-acid food. No matter where you get it from, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a wine with bright citrus and vegetal notes. This wine would pair great with a fatty/oily pizza- especially one with some green on it.

Pizza Pairing: Pizza Pesto Genovese (Pizza with pesto and fresh mozzarella)

Rosé, Côtes de Provence

There’s always a place for rosé on the dinner table. It’s kind of the best of both worlds – with vibrant acidity and fruitiness. Rosé honestly might be the safest choice with any high-acid pizza.

Pizza Pairing: Margherita Pizza or Sausage Pizza

Best Red Wines to Pair with Pizza

Red wine is usually a safe bet, especially if there’s tomato sauce or meat involved. Lighter-bodied reds should be paired with a high-acid pizza or a pizza without overwhelming flavors. Bold reds can be paired with just about anything!

Pairing Wine with Pizza, Pizza on a Tray with a Glass of Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon, Haut-Médoc

Cabernet, my old friend, is a safe bet with pretty much any type of pizza. It’s tannic, fruity, and can stand up to any slice you match it with. It especially goes well with a rich, meat-focused pizza or a pizza with lots of red sauce.

Pizza Pairing: Meat Lovers or Deep Dish Pizza

Pinot Noir, Bourgogne

Pinot Noir is fantastic with food. It’s high acid, subtle, fruity, and still has the benefit of being red! This is a great bottle to select when you have a couple of die-hard red wine drinkers over for your next pizza night, even if you’d otherwise go with a white wine.

Pizza Pairing: Veggie Pizza or Mediterranean Pizza

Carmenère, Maipo Valley

A little out of the ordinary on this one, but I couldn’t resist! Carmenère is a deep, dark, peppery beast of a wine that works about as well with bold cheeses as any wine I’ve ever come across. It also works wonderfully with peppery meats or arugula.

Pizza Pairing: Pizza with Caramelized Pear and Blue Cheese

South African Cape Blend, Stellenbosch

A Cape Blend is a blend specific to South Africa that typically features the local grape Pinotage (a relative of Pinot Noir,) Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. This blend happens to be made with Cabernet Franc instead of Merlot, but it is nonetheless a great alternative to a traditional Cab or Merlot. It can stand up to nearly anything while offering a bright, fruity finish.

Pizza Pairing: Mushroom Pizza or Classic Pepperoni

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