Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s a perennial favorite and can be enjoyed at home, at a restaurant, or in the classic New York on-the-go style. Pizza manages to be delicious and laid-back at the same time and can pair with a variety of wines.
Since pizza and wine seem to present infinite possibilities, it’s always a good idea to consider wine weight and boldness of flavor. For example, big bold reds like Zinfandel are natural pairings for spicy barbecue whereas a Pinot Grigio will be completely overpowered by the spice. Similarly, if we have Zinfandel with, say, a simple salad, the veggies will get lost by the heft of the wine.
Pizza is no different! Here, we explore some of the most popular pizzas with various toppings and sauces, and which wines work best with them.
BEST PIZZA WITH WINE PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
- Cheese Pizza with Softer Red Wines
- Pepperoni, Meatball & Sausage Pizza with Bolder Red Wines
- Margherita Pizza with Dry Rosé
- Vegetarian Pizza with Bright White Wines
- Mushroom Pizza with Sparkling Wines
- Eggplant Pizza with Pinot Noir or Barbera
- White Pizza with Acidic White Wines
- Pesto Pizza with Herbal Wines
- Hawaiian Pizza with Fruity White Wines
- Buffalo or BBQ Chicken Pizza with Gamay, Lambrusco or Zinfandel
- Anchovy Pizza with Dry, Aged Red Wines
- Greek Pizza with Hefty Red Wines
- …and more
Let’s start with the basics: who doesn’t love a good cheese pie? Believe it or not, the simplest of pizzas is the most complicated when it comes to wine pairing. Cheese pizza has few ingredients but is often more acidic because of the tomato sauce. Since the flavor isn’t super intense, a medium-bodied red matches the vibe perfectly. A softer Tuscan red will work well, as will French Pinot Noir because both have just enough weight to not overpower a pizza with simple, delicious ingredients, but are acidic enough to match.
Different types of meat on pizza are actually the perfect way to explore the boldness-of-flavor guideline we stated earlier. Meatball pizza tends to be the least spicy so here, we want a wine with heft and fruit, like a Sangiovese. Merlot and medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon can work as well.
For sausage pizza, we can up the acidity a bit to balance out the wonderful fattiness that comes with sausage. There, a younger Nebbiolo from Langhe would shine.
And finally, the all-time favorite: pepperoni. It’s true that most strong red wines will perfectly combine with those meaty flavors, but keeping with the Italian theme always adds a bit of fun to a pizza night. Pepperoni would just love to be paired with a spicy Sicilian red, or a bold Super Tuscan.
Now, a Margherita pizza may be similar to basic cheese but the fresh basil throws us a little curve ball. Since this pizza is meant to be light – even the cheese is much lighter than a standard cheese pie – let’s go with something fun. A dry rosé, like many of those from the Provence region of France, works perfectly with Margherita because it plays off the herbal notes as well as the freshness of the mozzarella.
If you’re into peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes or other veggies on your pizza, consider a light white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or branch out with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. The fresher, crisper taste will perfectly pair with the subtleness of the vegetables and the mozzarella cheese.
No matter the variety, bubbles with pizza makes for an unexpected pairing that really hits the spot. There’s nothing better than drinking a glass of sparkling wine on a basic evening with pizza! The delicate effervescence won’t take away from the bold flavors of the pizza, and highlights the earthiness of the mushrooms.
There are dozens of variations of sparkling wines from around the world, but if you’re looking for an elegant and affordable option to pair with Mushroom pizza, consider Cava from Spain, or spend a bit more on a lovely Franciacorta or Champagne.
Eggplant is a go-to stand-in for vegetarian dishes, and with good reason: it’s so full of flavor and texture that meat isn’t missed at all. For pizza, it brings a decidedly earthy twist and can pair well with a range of reds. Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for eggplant, but Italian reds like Barbera will work just as well.
White pizza is where things get weird… pizza without sauce? How can that be? Actually, white pizza makes pairings pretty easy because we can focus on the creamy cheese without worrying about the acidic sauce.
For white pizza, we have a range of options: we can go with an Italian white like Falanghina or Prosecco, or we can go with an unoaked, higher acid Chardonnay to really play off those creamy notes.
Swapping out red sauce for a basil base opens up a whole new range of pairings! We can go in a few different directions here, and all are delicious. To highlight the greenness of basil, a Sauvignon Blanc will work really well. If we’d like to balance out the basil more, a Provençal rosé would be perfect. Or, if we want to go with a fruity red to play off the basil, Barbera and Dolcetto would both work wonderfully. Thanks, pesto!
A crisp, fruity white blend will highlight the fruity tones of the pineapple and complement the salty ham. A great choice is Vinho Verde from Portugal. This zesty, acidic and friendly white wine typically has a light sparkle, which also brings out the bold flavors in this unique style of pizza. Certain rosés can also highlight the juxtaposition between the sweet pineapple and the salty ham. Ideal rosé expressions to consider range from Provence, France to Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Buffalo or barbecue chicken pizza will work well with similar wines because both include bold flavors in conjunction with a lighter meat. Think fruity and soft for this, like a Gamay, or even a slightly sweet Lambrusco if the spice is bold enough. If a lot of bleu cheese is involved in your Buffalo pie, veer more towards a fruity Zinfandel.
Anchovies are salty, fishy and strong, so an aged red works best to hold its own alongside these bolder flavors. Consider wines from Spain’s Rioja region or an oaked, dry Argentinian Malbec. Both are often aged long enough to contain tertiary flavors that counter the intense taste of this cured pizza topping.
Greek pizza is all about the bold flavors of feta cheese and black olives so we can go with equally bold reds. A Syrah can shine here, playing off those dark olive notes and salty feta cheese. Pinotage could also work, as could an Argentinian Malbec.
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