So many of us love pepperoni pizza so much that it’s almost sacrilegious to describe what it actually is: a lightly spiced processed pork product.
Given that dubious reality, it should be less of a surprise that its origins are not traced to Italy, but rather to the United States — specifically to New York City, as this article explains.
While pepperoni can be found on cheese boards, grilled sandwiches and (in West Virginia) calzones, its most common use is as a pizza topping.
Which brings up the obvious question (for a wine blog): What type of wine should one open up to enjoy with a pepperoni pizza?
There are at least two schools of thought, and we’ve had success following both suggested paths.
Some will suggest pairing the pie with a rich, fruitful wine such as Sangiovese. The idea is that the wine will help mitigate pepperoni’s saltiness and fat with its moderate acidity and savory qualities. That approach is all about balancing out the food and the wine.
Others will say that we should match spice with spice. This would mean opting for a wine that not only exudes a peppery quality, but also exhibits good fruit and acidity. Two wines that fit that description are Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.
Other lesser known but equally worthy pairing partners are Barbera, Nebbiolo and Nero d’Avola.
The same pairing “rule” applies to pizza as it does to other dishes: Pair the wine with the dominant flavor of the food. That means various other types of pizza — from Margherita to Hawaiian, and from “Meat Lovers” to Barbecued Chicken — will call for different wines.
As always, keep in mind that while there are tried-and-true guidelines that we can follow, the ultimate arbiter of which wine-and-food pairings “work” is your palate. So don’t be afraid to experiment.