Pizza: a forbidden food-wine pairing?!?

pizzamargherita

Unlike our impossible food-wine pairings, pizza is one of those very possible wine pairings. But not in one country: Italy.

Jeremy Parzen pointed out this shocking claim in the comments of a recent post on his blog : “…no one pairs wine with pizza in Italy! I’m sorry, they just don’t…” He added later via email, “like Italians’ aversion to dairy and fish, or coffee and savory, the pizza/beer pairing is relatively sacred… they never pair pizza with wine… wine lists in Italian pizzerie are for tourists.” (Let’s hope they’re not pairing the lackluster Peroni with that pizza.)

Forbidden as it may be in Italy, prove the Italians wrong and tell us what is your preferred pairing for a pizza margherita? Are you in the white, light red (Barbera, Chianti), or the full-bodied (Nero d’Avola, Shiraz, Zinfandel) camp? I prefer reds with higher acidity to cut through the protein and fat of the cheese and stand up to acidity in the the tomato.

I suppose if we really wanted an impossible food-wine pairing, there’s always deep dish pizza…

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63 Responses to “Pizza: a forbidden food-wine pairing?!?”


  1. Beer is too carbonated to have with pizza for my taste. I’ve never had a pizza/red wine pairing I didn’t like: Chianti, Nero d’Avola, Cab, blends, you name it.


  2. I may be partial as a supplier of South African wine, however, I sell the stuff because I love it and there is one wine that I love with Pizza – the Kanonkop Kadette. The wine is a “Cape Blend” with 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Pinotage, 27% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and since the Italians do not drink wine with Pizza why limit ourselves to Italian wine? This wine at about $10-$12 a bottle comes from one of the most highly regarded South African Estates and is one of my favorite pairing with pizza because the earthiness and acid match so well. (Also, I have trouble opening an expensive bottle with a pizza.) It is full bodied with a finesse usally afforded much more expensive wines. Give it a shot!


  3. I’ll agree with Sam on the Kanonkop Kadette — it’s a great versatile blend. In fact, depending on the toppings, I can see a number of South African wines that would pair with pizza; pinotage’s power and smokiness would go well with meat-heavy pizza, for example.

    Personally, I like a medium-bodied pinot noir with pizza; something good from the Languedoc, or an inexpensive Sonoma/RRV. Acidity pairs off well with the tomato sauce, and cuts through the cheese.


  4. What if you’re Italian and you don’t like beer? Seems rather silly to think someone strange for drinking a glass of wine with pizza when they drink wine with just about every other imaginable dish. His rule of thumb is as dense as “fish with white and steak with red”…drink whatever the hell you want! Wine pairing would depend on the type of pizza and toppings, but my favorite is still a traditional Chianti.


  5. Grenache has been my favorite pizza pairing of late. Lighter bodied with a refreshing zip after all the cheese/bread.


  6. While I haven’t paired wine and pizza often (not sure why we don’t do that more as we love wine :) ) I think I’d probably go with a Shiraz. Granted this would be with one of our homemade pizzas which are pretty bold in taste so I think the Shiraz would stand up to it best.


  7. Sorry, I’ve got to stick with the estimable Signor Parzen, for me the best drink with most pizza is a Moretti La Rossa or Brooklyn Brown.


  8. Try a real Lambrusco (dry, not sweet) with pizza. The bubbles are just enough to cleanse the grease and cheese from your palate and the right one will bring out the seasonings and the tomato. The one that inspired my personal pizza/Lambrusco revelation was Vittorio Graziano’s. Yum.


  9. you could almost pair pizza like a pasta, Dough, Tomato Sauce, and toppings, or even the other pizzas with a cream sauce.


  10. This rather interesting feature popped up on my blog this week. If you’re interested in Italian food and wine check it out by googling littleitalyblogspot. Oh and with regard to the pizza & beer thing, I’m right on board with the Italians on this one. It has to be beer.


  11. Dr. V, thanks for the shout out!

    I have to stand by my previous statements: Italians pair beer and coke with pizza… In my opinion, the wine and pizza pairing is the result of that great misunderstanding called the Atlantic Ocean!


  12. Try Ferrari-Carano’s Siena, a staple at my house and great with pizza. Blend changes slightly year to year. 2006 Siena is 68% Sangiovese, 32% Malbec. For grilled pizza I like Zin.


  13. The Italians don’t know what they’re missing. I’ve rarely met a red wine that didn’t go with pizza. If so, the pizza had asparagus on it.

    I once drank a 1989 Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac with a pepperoni pizza and it was an epiphany. The pairing was so memorable, I wrote about the experience in my recently-finished memoir, Mouthfeel: Confessions of a Wine Slut. I have posted the book’s first chapter at: marikane.com/writing.html. It is the true story of one woman’s search for love and livelihood among the vineyards of Sonoma County.

    Please check it out and tell me what you think. Cheers!


  14. I appreciate where a lot of these recommendations are coming from, and agree with Howard that Lambrusco can go well with a good pizza. But I just find the Wine/Pizza relationship to be a parasitic one, except with the very simplest of wines. Whereas beer and pizza achieves a more symbiotic tone, as always just my opinion.


  15. do bianchi is absolutely right, however, if forced to pick a pairing i would do a falanghina or even better, a gragnano. the latter, in fact, is the pairing of choice with the town of gragnano’s famous panuozzo!

    heavy reds are way too much for the VERA pizza napoletana.

    beer-wise, nastro azzuro, definitely.


  16. You can pair anything if you have enough energy for experimentation—which is half the fun! Personal preference is paramount in any case. And anyway, a sucessful pairing is on the taste buds of the taster after all. That being said, I think it’s funny how robust, red wines at a low price point (hey, great QPR!)get tagged with the label “Great pizza wine”


  17. If I think about what to drink with pizza, I think of wine, but that may be because when I drink beer with things, it’s seldom part of any thought process and just what I do.

    I am, however, a big fan of using a very hoppy beer as the liquid in making pizza dough.


  18. I had to say something here. I’m new to NYC and some Italian friends have introduced me to “the best pizza in the city” Luzzo’s. It’s downtown on 1st ave. Now, that said… they DO DRINK BEER with it. Though I opt for wine.

    However back in the my Newport Beach days we did this:

    Lavantino’s pepperoni pizza. We would then put a dollop of foie gras on each slice of pepperoni. We would wash down with 1998 Opus…which was impossible to sell at the time.

    That is a prime example of Cali drinking trends to NYC drinking trends. I wholeheartedly prefer the latter.


  19. The statement about Italians in Italy not drinking wine with pizza doesn’t match up to the many times I have been in Italy. But maybe the giveaway is ‘pizzeria’, in other words the type of restaurant and their clientele. Pizzas are served in more upper class restaurants and Italians do drink with with them.

    I suppose an Italian in the USA might come away with the idea that Americans don’t drink alcohol with chicken if they’d been saving money by eating in KFCs.

    Another point is ‘pizza’ covers an awful lot of ground – there are an unlimited amount of topping combinations.


  20. whoa whoa whoa… I’ve read this blog with what much regularity, agreeing with most and most importantly finding a good recommendation I hadn’t tried previously at times. BUT.. I fail to grasp how no one (scans the msgs again) mentioned yet a Cotes du Rhone or Valpolicella?! Both can have this great acidity which pair excellently with most things-tomato! Pizza wines also by definition have to be affordable (under $15 is the new standard in ’09).


  21. It depends on the pizza, where I eat it… and on my mood! Sometimes (usually when I eat pizza in a restaurant) I stick with the Italians and have a beer with my pizza – I often don’t trust the pizza places wines! At home I always love a good Barbera or a Chianti with my children’s favourite food.


  22. In my household, we call Beaujolais “pizza wine”.


  23. We make our own pizza. We usually drink a Sicilian or Puglese red with it.


  24. Just saw this item in today’s NYT:

    The Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, a group that certifies the authenicity of Neapolitan pizza makers, will open a restaurant and pizza making school at 271 Bleecker Street (near Cornelia Street).

    The group, which has been consulting in the United States since 2007, said they hope to open by the end of next month. The restaurant, with a wood-burning oven, will be called Kesté Pizza e Vino and will focus on pizza plus other Neapolitan dishes. (The name means “this is it.”) Classes will be for professionals only at first.

    Pizza e Vino!!!


  25. Hey Doc! How have ya been?

    I have been so busy this is the first time in a month or so I am surfing the RSS.

    So I say:

    Grechetto

    unoaked chard

    Corvina


  26. Wow, it would depend so much on the type of pizza. Every place I have ever purchased pizza has been different. I can always count on differences in the sauce, topping qualities, or dough. Believe it or not, I actually prefer the carbonation of a good root or birch beer. My family never paired wine with pizza when I was growing up, I never questioned it, but my mother (the italian) never outright said anything about it being wrong. Perhaps, it was just something she carried over from her family life into ours.


  27. I love pizza with red wine…I have yet to find a red wine I did not like with it.

    Check out this class to learn more about wine from the French Culinary Institute.

    The Fundamentals of Wine
    January 9, 2009-January 11, 2009, $995
    The French Culinary Institute, 462 Broadway at Grand, New York City, NY
    This refreshing course takes the snobbery and mystery out of tasting and selling fine wine. Our wine faculty has taught thousands to understand wine through experiential learning, and “the light goes on every time.” Each class features in-depth tastings. Wines are poured, discussed, compared and demystified. Descriptors of aroma and taste suddenly make sense. Proper food pairings are revealed, and absorbed. Best of all, it’s fun.


  28. GRAGNANO !!!

    It’s the perfect pizza wine, and it comes from the Sorrentino Peninsular of Campania. Right near Naples.
    We’ve had numerous Gragnano/pizza parties. Never fails to be delicious! Especially with the frizzante-ness!


  29. I have very fond memories of enjoying the red wine paired with the daily pizza at the Cheeseboard in Berkeley. Delicious.


  30. I’m with DoBi and Tracie B – birra,birra, birra.
    Although I once had an anchovy and jalapeno pizza with a Carneros Sauv Blanc and it was fug-a-licious!


  31. OK, for me it has to be inexpensive chianti with my pizza … it is even better if you are eating by the light of a candle burning in an old chianti bottle … kind of a retro thing for me … bringing back the 60’s

    Denise
    http://WineFoodPairing.blogspot.com


  32. In Buenos Aires it seems popular to pair cheese pizza with a moscato. Something about the sweetness is actually quite pleasant with the pizza.


  33. Negromaro – Puglia or Dr. Pepper :)


  34. [...] J (that would be me) inspired a thread in Dr. V’s blog last week, entitled “Pizza: a forbidden food-wine pairing?” I was glad to see the doc [...]


  35. My family used to think that beer and pizza were inseperable until we discoved the Italian wine Bolla Bardolino. It’s inexpensive and pairs wonderfully with spicy tomato based dishes. Try it!


  36. The notion that wine doesn’t go with pizza is ridiculous. Flour, cheese, tomato sauce – put these ingredients in any other combination (pasta, lasagna, bruschetta, panini, etc.) and wine would be served as a matter of course. So why not with pizza? If they really don’t drink wine with pizza in Italy, I wonder if it’s an accident of business/economic history rather than anything to do with taste.

    By the way, do we have any confirmation of Jeremy’s claim that Italians don’t drink wine with pizza, from frequent pizza eaters in Italy or restaurant data? Just curious…


  37. has the flour dust settled yet? ;-)

    I’m glad Dr. V’s post created so much healthy debate and dialogue… A few Italians did indeed weigh in on a followup post I did and confirmed that indeed pizza is _traditionally_ paired with beer or soda and not wine… but that’s just tradition… we were having fun with it and I’m glad that everyone else did too!

    the other night I paired an Inama Soava with a margherita in Dallas at Nonna… it was delicious!

    thanks again Dr. V for getting it all cooking!


  38. My best pairing for a woodfired margherita pizza has been…I Perazzi Morelino di Scansanso of Mario Batali/Bastianch fame. Delish…perfect acidity!


  39. [...] pizza with wine is a tricky thing. The recent controversy of my fellow blogger Do Bianci with Dr. Vino is a case in point. I think Jeremy Parzen is mostly right. When we lived in Rome we had never pizza [...]


  40. [...] bearing does the above have on the present post, you ask? In the wake of the brouhaha that followed Dr. V’s post in which he quoted me as saying pizza could not be paired with wine, and my subsequent apologia [...]


  41. This website is a fantastic resource to have when trying to pair food and wine! You can even access this on your PDA! Check it out!

    http://www.winexperience.com/matching/index.shtml


  42. [...] course, some people wouldn’t dream of drinking wine with pizza, like those crazy Italians. However, if you do insist on doing as they don’t do in Rome, here are some thoughts on [...]


  43. [...] course, some people wouldn’t dream of drinking wine with pizza, like those crazy Italians. However, if you do insist on doing as they don’t do in Rome, here are some thoughts on [...]


  44. [...] Did it all began back in January when Dr. V asked me what vino I’d pair with pizza? [...]


  45. [...] the last few months, pizza has been one of the hottest topics in the food and wine media — from Dr V’s post on the forbidden pizza-wine pairing earlier this year to Eric’s astute observations on the “wine and pizza debate” in [...]


  46. an austrian Zweigelt is a nice pairing with a good pizza


  47. Pizza in the way that we eat it, is not Italian!


  48. I love Coppola Merlot with Pepperroni Pizza or Sicilian style pizza!


  49. [...] in case you’d like to pick up a nice bottle of Chianti to take home with your pizza (which the Italians apparently would never do, by the way). As a pizzeria, however, Sully’s didn’t wow me on this [...]


  50. [...] of being a FABULOUS pairing with many varieties of both beer and wine, to our taste anyway.  Some Italians and Dr. Vino readers might [...]


  51. I drink my wine with pizza every weekend and its totally worth it!


  52. Any decent young Sangiovese is to me perfect with pizza. Depending on the topping of course, other wines can be fine.
    But I see how the Italians can prefer beer, most pilseners actually work well with most pizzas.


  53. First of all, let me say that I am a firm believer that one should eat what they like, whether it is the norm or not. That said, when eating a real italian pizza (like Antico in Atlanta) I prefer an authentic experience and would not ruin my meal by drinking wine with pizza. If you are eating normal “american” style pizza, it really doesn’t matter one way or another.


  54. [...] all too easy to simply say “anything red and Italian”, I was actually quite shocked to recently find out that most Italian’s actually don’t pair pizza and wine together! No Sir! They much more prefer [...]


  55. [...] all too easy to simply say “anything red and Italian”, I was actually quite shocked to recently find out that most Italian’s actually don’t pair pizza and wine together! No Sir! They much more prefer [...]


  56. [...] all too easy to simply say “anything red and Italian”, I was actually quite shocked to recently find out that most Italian’s actually don’t pair pizza and wine together! No Sir! They much more prefer [...]


  57. [...] all too easy to simply say “anything red and Italian”, I was actually quite shocked to recently find out that most Italian’s actually don’t pair pizza and wine together! No Sir! They much more prefer [...]


  58. [...] Red bubbly? Perfect. It’s like the wine version of beer or Coca Cola (which is apparently what Italians really like to drink with their pizza.) Main things I avoid and that sound super icky: jammy, oaky or incredibly full [...]


  59. [...] Pizza: a forbidden food-wine pairing?!? “Help Steve Cuozzo navigate a wine [...]


  60. Just to pitch in: I am Italian, and I can confirm that NOBODY in Italy drinks wine with pizza. You just don’t do it. You can choose among beer, coke, or water. That’s it. The idea of drinking wine with pizza is obviously due to the fact that American restaurants make a killing by selling you wine, so they have all the interest in convincing the public that drinking wine with pizza is somewhat “sophisticated”. It is not.
    That said, it’s understood that you can drink or eat whatever you want. But then again, you guys call tomato sauce “Marinara”, or try to pass as Italian that mysterious concotion called “alfredo sauce” (whatever that is), so I guess anything goes :-)


  61. Pizza and Coke. Of course. Let’s see, it was Columbus who brought over tomatoes and Coca Cola wasn’t it? So Americans, who provided both, are supposed to find that pairing authentically Italian?

    ?

    Since pizza came from focaccia, which as a simple flat bread is far more ancient, can wine be paired with that? I would assume that somewhere in Mesopotamia people were doing it. So when you make your pizza, leave the tomato sauce off, which I do, and don’t use milky mozzarella and bingo, you can pair whatever you want.


  62. Pizza and a dry, smaller-production type of Lambrusco (Fiorini for ex.) is an incredibly good pairing


  63. This is silly! It is true that Italians prefer beer to wine when eating pizza. But there is no sacred rule. Plenty of Italians prefer wine, and those who prefer beer will not object to anybody preferring wine. It has more to do with the idea that pizza is a hearty this that benefits from a good wash-down. Despite the very “sophisticated” opinions here, any light to medium bodied red is great, dry or fruity. Heavy red with pizza is absurd, e.g. Paulliac with pizza. LOL!!!! Any white is fine, though a balance between fruit and acid is best. As for beer? Italians prefer their specialty light lagers like Peroni. Hardly lacklustre. Jeremy Parzen appears to be the typically overstimulated American longing for over-the-top microbrews.


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