Pizza and vino Italiano — perfezione!
Give your favorite pizza an extra boost by pairing it with the perfect Italian wine.
When I say that the beauty of pizza is its versatility, I quickly remember that wine fits into the same mold. You can wash your pizza down with beer, or you can steer your salivary glands into some delicious and appropriate Italian wine.
Pizza usually dictates that you drink more moderately priced wines. You don’t need expensive wines for savory Italian brick-oven pies. You just need the right wines.
Match the weight of the wine to the weight of the pizza. A big Chicago-style thick-crust pizza with lots of red sauce and meat will need a more robust style of red wine, such as Primitivo, Amarone, Chianti Classico or Barolo. A thin-crust pizza with a white sauce, feta cheese and veggies, such as artichokes, spinach and mushrooms, calls for a more modest white wine — Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, Falanghina or Fiano d’Avellino.
If you have several salty items on your pizza — sardines, anchovies, salami, proscuitto and pepperoni — you will want a white wine with high acidity to cut through the saltiness.
If you have spicy ingredients on your pies — wasabi, jalapeño, habanero or serrano pepper — drink an off-dry (slightly sweet) white wine or an off-dry rosé wine. Keep in mind: Sparkling wine is a terrific partner with pizza, particularly burn-your-mouth-to-pieces pizza.
My favorite non-Italian wines for pizza are: Gamay (Beaujolais), Pinot Noir, Malbec, Syrah, light-bodied red Zinfandel and Cotes du Rhone or Grenache-based wines.
If you try a wine with your pizza that you aren’t wild about, use this little trick: Squeeze a little lemon over the top of the pizza (not too much) and add a sprinkle of kosher salt. Take another bite and you’ll be amazed how the taste of the pairing changes.
This means you can pretty much drink any wine with any pizza and never be disappointed. Start with the following Italian wines and enjoy the art of eating pizza — like an Italian! Salute!
Sips at home
Layer Cake Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) 2008, Puglia, Italy — $14.99
Big wine calls for big pizza. This has jammy, ripe black and red fruit flavors and pairs well with meaty styles of pizza. Think of loaded supreme pies with the whole kitchen sink thrown on top. Primitivo is almost identical to red Zinfandel and fun to try.
Dressed to refresh
Villa Antinori Toscana 2010 Italian white — $14.49
Made from Malvasia and Trebbiano and a 20 percent kiss of Chardonnay to add some weight and complexity, this wine is refreshing and terrific with both white- and red-sauce-based pizzas. However, it really shines with veggie and slightly spicy pies.
A rich companion
Tommasi Valpolicella 2009 Italian red — $15.99
I cut my teeth in college with Bolla Valpoliclla and have made my way back to this soft and smooth blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. This is a fruity style of wine with medium-plus acidity to tame the richness of any pizza.
Sips around town
General Manager Travis Araiza recommends pairing Italian Barbera d’Alba by Batasiolo with Andolini’s Demarco of Brooklyn pizza. What could be better on a Tuesday night? Try a glass for $9 or the bottle for $36. 1552 E. 15th St., 918-728-6111
Manager Amelia Dorman loves the café’s Bristow Pizza with artichokes and mushrooms paired with the lively Ceretto Arneis white wine for $47 or a half-bottle of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio white wine for $25. 1748 Utica Square, 918-712-7470