Pizza: Revisited and Reconstructed

     It’s Friday, and you know what that means: It’s pizza night!

     But that doesn’t mean pizza-and-beer. We’re talking pizza-and-wine. The question is: What kind of wine?

     The answer can be either very simple or a bit complicated. Let’s start with the simple…

     The go-to variety for virtually any type of pizza is Sangiovese, the grape from which Italy’s iconic wine, Chianti, is made. Why Sangiovese? Because, unlike many red varieties, it possesses zesty acidity that can simultaneously cut through that rich layer of cheese(s) and complement tangy tomato sauce.

     But what if there’s someone in the family who doesn’t drink red wine – someone who prefers white varieties? No problem. For them, Sauvignon Blanc is the answer, particularly the more “zippy” style embraced by vintners in New Zealand.

     Again, the variety’s lively acidity is the key, but its flavor spectrum – grassy and herbal – deliciously complements the typical pizza components of tomato sauce, bell peppers and oregano.

     Obviously, when toppings are added to a pizza, wine pairing becomes a bit more involved, and should be based on the strongest flavor of the dish. (That’s why, when pairing wine with pasta, the pairing the partner is the sauce.)

     With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list of common pizza toppings, along with a wine pairing suggestion (or two) for each.

     * Pepperoni – Zinfandel.

     * Spicy Italian Sausage – Zinfandel or Sangiovese.

     * Canadian Ham – Sparking wine.

     * Lean Ground Beef – Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

     * Smoked Bacon – Sparkling wine or Syrah.

     * Grilled Chicken Strips – “Unoaked” Chardonnay.

     * Baby Shrimp – Sauvignon Blanc.

     * Meatballs – Sangiovese or Argentine Malbec.

     * Black Olives – Syrah.

     * Mushrooms – “Unoaked” Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

     * Roasted Garlic – Cabernet Sauvignon.

     * Pineapple – Viognier.

     * Onions – Zinfandel.

     * Barbecued Chicken – A dry Rosé of Sangiovese or Pinot Noir.

     Counting calories? Prepare a side salad, loaded with veggies, and substitute it for a slice or two of the pizza. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc would pair nicely with the salad, and also would match up with certain pizza toppings, as the list above illustrates.

     It’s so easy to fall into the “same-old same-old” syndrome when it comes to pizza and wine. If you’re willing to be adventurous, you just may discover some new pairings that will add sizzle to your Friday nights.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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