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Perfect Pizza and Wine Pairings

by: Giordano's

pizza and wine pairings

There’s no denying pizza and beer make a lovely couple, but what about wine and pizza? Wine, or vino, is, after all, from the word venas, which means “to love.” And there’s a lot to love about a wine and pizza union.

First, the right wine enhances the sweetness of tomato sauce and cuts the fat of the cheese. Like any successful food marriage, the two work together to create a delectable flavor profile. In fact, they are such a good pair, you may find their mutual love contagious. With a slice of pizza in one hand and a glass of vino rosso in the other, don’t be surprised if you get the sudden urge to slow dance.

But what kind of wine goes with pizza? The answer to this question depends on what kind of pizza you plan to enjoy. This ultimate pizza and wine pairing guide will tell you some specific wine and pizza matches made in culinary heaven, along with how to pair wine with pizza in general.

pizza and wine combos

7 Pizza and Wine Pairings

Choosing the perfect wine to drink with pizza involves many variables, from the type of toppings to the way the wine was aged. This can feel overwhelming for those who are new to wine and food pairing. But don’t worry, we have suggestions to help make the pairing process as smooth as melted cheese.

1. Cheese Pizza With Acidic Red Wine

Cheese and wine fell in love long ago, and it’s time to celebrate their enduring romance. A classic slice of a cheese-stuffed deep-dish pizza is every wine lover’s dream, especially if the pie is dripping with Wisconsin mozzarella cheese.

Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre (GSM)

Acidic red wines work well with cheesy pizza because the acid offsets the buttery cheese. Try a GSM or a grenache-syrah-mourvedre blend with your cheese-stuffed, deep-dish slice.

Grenache is a high-acid wine that counters the sweetness of tomatoes, while spicy syrah contributes extra complexity to a plain cheese slice. Mourvedre, originally from Spain, is a full-bodied plum-colored wine. Peppery, smoky and floral, this wine needs creamy mozzarella to tone it down. As part of a wine blend, mourvedre’s intense flavor is more palatable.

2. Meat and Mushroom Pizza With Fruity Red Wine

A fruity red wine pairs perfectly with a deep-dish pizza stuffed with plenty of mushrooms and a hearty meat, such as sausage. These savory ingredients beg for a sweet, fruity wine to add an exciting layer of flavor. Here are our top wine picks to accompany a meat and mushroom deep-dish pie.

Zinfandel

Mysterious zinfandel has unknown origins. Though its grapes are grown in California, DNA studies point to a birth in Croatia. Nevertheless, it’s no secret this fruity, spicy wine goes great with pizza — especially pizza stuffed with savory meat and grilled veggies.

Zinfandel is moderately tannic and highly acidic, which tones down the acidity in tomato sauce. When it comes to meat, zinfandel does an excellent job balancing the saltiness and fat found in most red meats.

With the first sip, expect a burst of sweet berry flavors followed by a smoky finish. This wine pairs well with the bold, slightly sweet flavors of garlic, tomato, peppers and onions. Just make sure to choose a medium-bodied, unoaked zinfandel — oaked zinfandel would be too strong for pizza.

Syrah or Shiraz

Syrah and shiraz are different wines from the same grape. These ruby red wines are generally peppery, smoky and dark-berry flavored. Shiraz or syrah can enhance the flavors of anise or fennel in pizza sausage, taking a slice to new, wonderful levels. These full-bodied wines make the perfect bold match for a hefty slice of meat-stuffed pizza.

Imagine a juicy sausage and pepper kabob sizzling on a hot grill. Well, you can enjoy this richness in flavor if you combine a glass of shiraz with a slice stuffed with sausage and mushrooms.

3. Extra Meat Pizza With Sweet Red Wine

meat pizza and sweet wine

Would you like some pizza with your meat toppings? The savory, spicy flavors of mixed meats taste so yummy and are oh-so satisfying with the right wines. When served with the right wine, a thin crust pizza loaded with pepperoni, sausage, salami and bacon provides a burst of succulent flavors with new clarity.

Chianti

Chianti is more than just wine. In fact, it’s a wine zone in Italy’s Tuscany region. Chianti Classico is the district that makes the most widely available wine. If your bottle of Chianti Classico has the black rooster seal, you know you have the real deal.

This centuries-old wine is mostly made from the sangiovese grape and is best when accompanying food like grilled meats, pizza, pasta or any Italian dish. This wine embodies the flavors and scents of Italy and should be a kitchen staple for Italian food fanatics everywhere.

Chianti is less tannic and juicier than other wines, making it a perfect pair for a meaty slice of pizza. With notes ranging from sour cherry to espresso, Chianti highlights the spiciness of meats, while balancing the saltiness.

Sangiovese

Sangiovese is the iconic grape of Italy. Meaning “the blood of Jove” in Latin, this grape holds a lot of weight in flavor and history.

Sangiovese is a strong wine that can stand up to the intense flavors of cured meats like pepperoni. Also dry and highly acidic, sangiovese works well with any tomato-based dish. Like a sweet sauce, this wine shows flavors of cherry, tomato and oregano. It easily pairs with a variety of dishes.

Barbera

Like Chianti, barbera is versatile and pairs well with rich, meaty dishes. It’s a moderately tannic wine, which makes it a good match for herbal and tomato flavors. Barbera is also very juicy, fruity and sweet — a beautiful companion for salty meats.

4. Extra Veggies Pizza With Pinot Noir

What goes best with yummy cooked veggies? None other than pinot noir. Treat yourself to a slice of pizza piled with nutritious veggies like green peppers, broccoli, spinach and black olives topped with luscious cheese, served with a glass of pinot noir.

The nutritious, delicious bitterness of dark greens like broccoli and spinach tone down the sweetness of pinot noir, while the saltiness of the olives complements the flavor. The smooth creaminess of the cheese and the pungency of the onions help paint the full flavor picture that’ll make you want to call up friends to celebrate. Make sure to order extra, or you might not have anything to share.

Also, know that when you sip a glass of pinot noir, you are imbibing ancient history. Pinot noir grapes have been adored since Roman times. These pinecone-shaped grape clusters with dark skins originated in the Burgundy region of France. Pinot noir is a highly acidic, medium-bodied wine that is commonly paired with fish, pork and acidic sauces. It is also the go-to wine for mushrooms.

The earthy spiciness of pinot noir also enhances the flavors of herbs, like oregano. As you can see, pinot noir is the perfect choice for a veggie-topped pie. Add your favorite herbs to your slice to really bring out the notes in this loved-by-all wine.

5. Spinach, Artichoke and Feta Pizza With White Wine

A classy pizza calls for classy wine. A sophisticated, Mediterranean-inspired spinach, artichoke and feta pizza features colorful ingredients of varied flavor. With earthy and mildly sweet artichokes, creamy and salty feta and bitter green spinach, you have lots of complex, fun flavors to work with.

Also, consider that artichokes contain an acid called cynarin, which makes other foods taste sweet. Interestingly, cynarin prevents our taste buds from recognizing sweet flavors. So, when we take a bite of a food other than artichoke, we recognize the contrast between foods in the form of sweetness. For this reason, artichokes work well with slightly bitter foods like spinach or dry wine.

Pinot Grigio

Fruity, tart and less intense than other wines, pinot grigio makes the perfect gentle companion for an artichoke and feta slice. Its acidity is just enough to cut the saltiness of the feta, and its fruitiness helps balance the tartness of the artichoke. Dry and less sweet than chardonnay, pinot grigio doesn’t overpower pizza. It’s a refreshing white wine that pairs well with veggies and lighter pizza. Spices that pair well with pinot grigio include parsley, thyme and tarragon.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon blanc is a popular French white wine that has unique peppery and grassy flavors. With medium to medium-high acidity, this wine goes best with other herbs, such as parsley, basil and dill. Its acidity makes it a good match for the creaminess of the cheese and the artichoke’s flavor.

Unoaked Chardonnay

Spinach, artichoke and feta pizza makes for a slightly lighter fare than a meat-stuffed deep-dish pizza, for example. For this reason, we recommend pairing it with white wines, like a buttery chardonnay. Unoaked chardonnay is citrusy and herbal in flavor and goes well with pizza of the same flavor profile. Choose unoaked chardonnay, as oaked chardonnay might be too rich in flavor and could overwhelm the creaminess of the cheese.

6. Hawaiian Pizza With Rosé

hawaiian pizza and rose

Rosé is often served with a charcuterie board, and it is the perfect partner for a slice of Hawaiian pizza. Hawaiian pizza is topped with Canadian bacon and pineapple, which makes it essentially a sweet-and-savory charcuterie board on top of some crust. Balancing these already complex flavors with a light rosé is a great way to enhance the pizza without overwhelming your taste buds.

Provence Rosé

As a fruity and lean pink wine, Provence rosé goes well with just about anything. Its fresh, crisp taste pairs especially well with Hawaiian pizza. A bit of grenache, cinsault, syrah and mourvedre all go into creating the perfect Provence rosé, which is what gives this pale pink rosé its aromas of sweet strawberry, juicy watermelon and refreshing rose petal. The distinct, slightly salty finish of Provence rosé makes it the ideal complement to the sweet and salty flavors of a Hawaiian slice.

Tavel Rosé

As you may have guessed, Tavel rosé is from the French wine region of Tavel — an area known for its rosé wines. In fact, rosés from Tavel are often referred to as the “King of Rosés.” Rosés from Tavel typically carry aromas of summer fruits with a hint of spice, which rounds out the wine’s taste without detracting from the layered flavors found in Hawaiian pizza.

7. Margherita Pizza With Dry Wine

As the ultimate classic Italian pie, Margherita pizza keeps things simple with three main toppings — tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. By centering around garden fresh ingredients, a Margherita pizza creates a light slice that calls for an equally light wine pairing.

This is where a nice dry wine comes in. Dry wines usually feel more delicate and are a bit more watery in the mouth than other, heavier bodied wines. These airy qualities make a sip of dry wine the perfect refreshment after a light bite of Margherita pizza.

Tempranillo

Most wines made from tempranillo grapes are delightfully dry. Tempranillo is an early ripening black grape with a fairly neutral profile that makes it easy to pair with all kinds of flavors. As a bonus, tempranillo easily takes on the warm flavors of oak when aged in oak barrels for an extended amount of time.

Muscadet

Not to be confused with moscato, muscadet is an extremely dry light-bodied wine. Muscadet generally offers notes of citrus and minerals, giving the wine a flavor profile that tastes like being by the sea. Thanks to its bright and tangy taste, a glass of muscadet belongs beside a slice of Margherita.

What You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Choose Your Wine

Pairing wine with pizza doesn’t have to be as complex as the flavor. In general, red wine tastes best with red sauce, and white wine goes well with white sauce — but it’s also much deeper than that. We are going to show you what you need to know to find the best wine for pizza — you’ll feel like cupid and a wine aficionado in no time.

To get started, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:

Questions to Ask About the Pizza

If your tummy’s rumbling and you’re anxious to get date night started, you probably want to choose the wine as quickly as possible — not so fast! Before you reach for a bottle of sparkling apple cider, take a moment to consider your pizza. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Sauce: What type of sauce is your pizza going to have? Will it be creamy or tomato-based? Do you plan on adding lots of garlic?
  • Toppings: What toppings do you want? Are you going for a pizza that’s veggie-centric or meat-centric?
  • Cheese: What kind of cheese do you want on your pie? Mozzarella or feta? Or perhaps a heavy sprinkling of grated Parmesan?
  • Herbs: Do you love to cover your pizza with herbs like oregano, parsley or basil?

Once you know the flavors of your pizza, you’ll be ready to choose a wine that enhances its qualities.

Questions to Ask About the Wine

You know you want a pizza loaded with cheese, mushrooms and pepperoni. Sounds good, but what’s next? How do you choose a wine that complements these specific flavors? As we mentioned above, you should choose a red wine over a white wine when pairing it with pizza. Why? Because you’ll want a wine that has high acidity and moderate tannin.

The high acidity helps balance the fat in the cheese and can stand up to the acidity in the tomatoes. Also, highly acidic foods balance well with salty foods. So, a glass of highly acidic wine works well with salty cured meats, like pepperoni. You’ll know a wine is acidic if it:

  • Causes a tingling sensation in your mouth.
  • Feels like it has a lighter weight than other wines.
  • Makes your mouth feel wet.

Just keep in mind that sweetness, fat and salt work nicely with acidic flavors. Think of the sweetness in tomato sauce, the fat in cheese and the saltiness in toppings like bacon or olives. Flavor-wise, it makes perfect sense to choose a medium to highly-acidic wine as your pizza’s companion.

Next, let’s address tannins. Tannins usually refer to the dryness and bitterness of a wine, or its ability to make you pucker. Tannins come from the seeds, skin and stems of the grapes used to make the wine. Red wines typically have a higher amount of tannins. You’ll know you are tasting tannins when:

  • Your tongue dries out.
  • You’re left with a dry bitter feeling in your mouth after swallowing.
  • The wine tastes bitter.

So, what do tannins have to do with pizza? You’ll want to avoid wines with high tannin levels because they don’t mingle well with tomato sauce. Cabernet sauvignon is a high-tannin red wine, for example, and pinot noir is a low-tannin red wine. Instead of high-tannin wines, aim for wines that offer a touch of fruitiness or earthiness for greater balance and complexity.

Other key terms to know when choosing the perfect wine for your pizza include:

  • Medium-bodied: This refers to wines that feel fuller in the mouth than light wines, but not as full as full-bodied wines. Wines between 12.5% alcohol and 13.5% alcohol are usually considered medium-bodied.
  • Full-bodied: Wines with more than 13.5% alcohol that feel heavier in the mouth are considered full-bodied wines. These are usually red.
  • Oaked or unoaked: Oaked wines were aged in oak barrels, whereas unoaked wines were aged in steel barrels. An oak barrel will affect the flavor of the wine.

Using these guidelines, you’ll be able to expertly pair your pizza no matter what your go-to order is.

About Giordano’s

We hope we inspired you to grab your wine glasses and spend an evening with friends, family or that special someone over a leisurely Italian meal. A glass of wine adds flavor layers to a meal, and it warms the belly and lifts the spirit just like a classic pasta dish or custom-made pie.

For more than 40 years, Giordano’s has been delivering world-famous pizza from our oven to your doorstep. Want to spend the evening at home enjoying a delicious pizza with a bottle of wine? Give us a call. Prefer to stop in at one of our locations to fuel up for a night on the town? We’ll be happy to serve you.

We understand how important is to slow down sometimes and savor the good things in life. When the wine glasses are empty, and everyone is blissfully stuffed, take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing.