The beginning of the year is marked by resolution, a time of regrouping. Often, we set goals, or intentions to change something about ourselves. But I try to look at the start of a new year as a time of renewal and continue to focus more on what resonates with me. Naturally, that involves an exploration of food, wine and cooking.
Each winter, I stay inside more and try my hand at creating new dishes or altering old standbys — and making pizza is one of these. Whether you too are trying your hand at making pizza at home like we do, or are going out to your local pizzeria, try one the below pairing suggestions that include my Italian wine picks from smaller producers. You will be in for a culinary delight!
One of the most popular styles is the classic Margherita pizza consisting of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. For an even more indulgent pie, opt for mozzarella di bufala or add a drizzle of pesto on top. This is one of the easiest pizzas with which to pair wine. I recommend a light, unoaked white wine with bright, crisp acid that can cut through the acid of the tomato sauce and fat of the cheese. There are many great options and my top choices are the Italian white wines Vernaccia, Grechetto and Verdicchio of Castelli di Jesi. These styles are light and zippy, with the right amount of acid to complement this style of pizza.
- Montenidoli Vernaccia, Tuscany
- Antonelli Grechetto, Umbria
- Vignedileo Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico
Pizza con Prosciutto
The marriage of prosciutto with cheese and tomato sauce is an epicurean delight: the sweetness of the cheese counterbalances the meat’s saltiness and the acidity of the tomatoes. This pizza needs a wine with acid to calm down both of these aspects. A classic pairing is s, the dominant red grape grown in Tuscany (mainly the regions of Chianti and Scansano in the south) and in the northern area of Emilia-Romagna. Sangiovese is also the main grape used to make other Tuscan wines like Chianti Classico, Rosso & Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I prefer an unoaked or lightly oaked 100% sangiovese that has all the components – acid, body and fruit – that this style needs.
Vegetable pizza is my personal favorite: I like it full of mushrooms, caramelized onions, eggplant and yellow peppers, and love the array of colors that the vegetables bring forth. The more vegetables the better, creating a colorful, artful masterpiece. Both red and white Italian wines pair well here. Lighter bodied selections with good acidity are the go-tos. Red wine options can include Pinot Nero or Schiava. These are often from the northern part of Italy, Alto Adige, for example. For whites, light to medium-bodied styles work well, like Vermentino or Arneis, the latter a key white wine of Piedmont. I also love a good bubbly, like Trentodoc or Alta Lange sparkling wine, to pair with this style.
- Elena Walch Schiava, Alto Adige
- Chiesa Roero Arneis Quin, Santo Stefano Roero
- Deltetto Alta Langa Brut, Piedmont
Pizza ai Quattro Formaggi
What could be better than four cheeses together in one pizza? A great wine paired with it for sure. The richness and creaminess of the four-cheese pizza needs wines with enough body to stand up to its richness. In this case, we want a medium-to-fuller bodied style, red or white. These can include Gavi or Timarosso, both whites from Piedmont that have a great marriage of weight and acid. I also love Frappato, a red wine indigenous to Sicily and its best kept secret, with the four-cheese pizza. Frappato is a relatively unknown grape to those outside of Sicily and ranges from light-medium bodied. Frappato’s partnership with pizza provides gastronomic fulfillment.
There is also great synergy among cheese pizza and wines from Veneto’s Valpolicella, typically made from the grapes corvina and rondinella. These wines are fruit forward, not sweet, supple and silky in mouthfeel with good body and soft acid.
See More: Where To Find The Best Pizza In Naples