First rule of picking a good pizza wine – don’t over-think it. The starting point is go to the Italian wine section of your favorite wine shop, then pick a red and/or white. While the details are fun for us wine geeks, most of us just want to have a glass of fermented grape goodness that tastes good with ‘za, and doesn’t interfere with a good time.
We’ve done a lot of tasting of red and white wines with pizza, since both wine & pizza is a staple of many of our gatherings. We did a blind tasting a while back – there were quite a few surprises, including the result that Chianti was not the best pizza wine. In fact, white wines from Italy seemed to be most everyone’s favorite.
Over the past several years, we have also found some great bargains and perfect pairings for pizza – but much depends on individual taste, and the added extras on a pizza.
These wines are easy to find, and most are in the bargain category (under $20). A Wall Street Journal article featured Il Poggio di Gavi ($16), described as a full-bodied white with minerality. Our favorite, though, is the version from the great barolo producer: Pio Cesare (about $18). It’s got a crisp, refreshing taste with lots of interesting fruit that works well with any pizza (red sauce or white).
This Sicilican white blend was a bit new for us, but we tried it on Sunday pairing with a white pizza topped with fresh tomato, bacon, and spinach (one of our favorite combinations). The wine was quite a revelation, with a nice balance of acidity and minerality that worked well with the pizza (about $20).
While we’re on the subject of Sicily, there are many versions of Etna Rosso that we love – particularly Etna Rosso from Graci. Pale cherry red color, this is a fruit-forward wine that is smoky and complex with a nice savory finish – so it works well with a Margharita pizza, or a pizza with mild Italian sausage (it doesn’t work well with spicy). 100% Nerello Mascalese. (About $22).
Pizza was born in Naples, so it goes without saying that you can’t go wrong with the wines of Campania. Our all time favorite white from the region is Falanghina (see our previous review HERE). The 2016 Terredora (about $16) was mentioned in the WSJ article – but our favorite is from Mastrabernadino (about $20).
OTHERS WORTHY OF MENTION
A Sangiovese blend from Umbria – Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco – and a Nebbiolo made by Producttori di Barbaresco are two wonderful red bargain wines. We particularly like all the wines we’ve tasted from Producttori. Another of our go-to wines is Vietti Tre Vigne Barber d’Alba (about $17), which is one of our day wines. It has a lot of red berry and acidity to break through the strongest pizza flavors – and we’ve we pair it with antipasti, rich salads, grilled seasoned vegetables, fish, poultry, and pasta on a regular basis. It is a nicely balanced wine with flavors of black currant and blackberry fruit that shows notes of vanilla and spice. And we can’t forget the Allegrini Palazzo della Torre. At $12 to $14 a bottle, we can afford to buy a case if we have a houseful of drinkers.