A reliable source informs me that the two busiest days of the year for pizza parlors are Super Bowl Sunday and Halloween.
The second one surprised me just a bit, although it makes perfect sense. Who has time to cook when the doorbell is constantly ringing?
As for Super Bowl Sunday, that’s a no-brainer given all the viewing parties taking place across the country. Even people who don’t normally watch football will watch the Super Bowl, if for no other reason than to see some pretty creative commercials.
Football season may be over and Halloween may be months away, but America’s love affair with pizza endures. And contrary to popular belief, beer is not the only adult beverage appropriate for the pie. There are numerous pizza-and-wine combinations that are absolutely stellar.
As with all food-and-wine pairing, the key is to identify the primary flavor of the pizza, and use that for selecting a complementary wine. Here are a few of my favorite pizza-and-wine combos…
* Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella and oregano) — Especially if the tomato sauce is used sparingly, I love Viognier with this type of pizza because of how well it “plays” with oregano.
* Marinara (tomato sauce, garlic and basil) — Again, the amount of tomato sauce used is a key consideration with this pizza. If there’s a lot, then Chianti (or another Sangiovese-based wine) becomes the obvious choice. But if the overriding flavor is garlic, you could be daring and try Sauvignon Blanc or Vermentino.
* Quattro Stagioni (tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, artichokes, olives and oregano) — Two wines that cut through the saltiness of olives are Pinot Grigio and Grenache.
* Carbonara (tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, eggs and bacon) — There are lots of flavors going on with this pizza, so the wine choice truly is a matter of personal preference. Among the possibilities: Pinot Grigio, Gavi di Gavi, Soave or a chilled rosé.
* Frutti di Mare (tomato sauce and seafood) — Seafood normally calls for a white wine, but the tomato sauce multiplies the number of possible pairing partners. Among whites, top choices include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and even a buttery Chardonnay. Sangiovese and Pinot Noir are among the reds to consider. Or split the difference and opt for a rosé.
* Quattro Formaggi (tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola cheese, artichokes and oregano) — There’s a misconception that no wine pairs well with artichokes. Yes, it can be challenging, but when the artichoke flavor is joined by the flavors of oregano and four different cheeses, it’s more a matter of making sure the wine is bone dry. So go with Gruner Veltliner or Sauvignon Blanc.
* Crudo (tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parma ham) — The saltiness of the ham calls for a wine with a touch of sweetness. Among inspired choices are rosé, Moscato, Riesling and even Lambrusco.
* Montanara (tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, pepperoni and Stracchino) — My go-to wine for his pizza, because of the spiciness of the pepperoni and the earthiness of the mushrooms, is Zinfandel.
There are so many pizza variations and so many different types of wine that the pairing possibilities are virtually endless. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Often, as long as you like the pizza and as long as you like the wine, the pairing part will take care of itself.