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The Ultimate Guide to Pairing Wine with Every Kind of Pizza

Pizza might not be fancy, but that doesn’t mean a party featuring pies, impromptu or not, need not be an occasion that calls for wine. Whether it’s a night when a few of the kids’ friends stayed into dinnertime and you and the other parents dial your local delivery go-to or something you put a bit more planning into, the pairing pizza-bilities are almost endless. The key here is to focus on the myriad toppings and styles and go from there.

Our reference guide covers everything from classic cheese to (just a bit) more gourmet options.

Sausage Peppers and Onions Pizza slice

Sausage, Peppers & Onions

Wine Pairing: Langhe Nebbiolo

The gritty tannic texture will taper off alongside this umami-packed pie. Meanwhile, the wine’s floral-potpourri notes will highlight the herbaceousness of the meat while the pop of acid cuts through the richness of the carmelized onions and bite of the charred pepper.


White Pizza

Wine Pairing: Crémant de Bourgogne

This Burgundian sparkling is made using the same method as Champagne but requires less lees aging. Thus, the fresh fruits and zippy acidity are front and center, perfectly cutting through the richness of this creamy slice and lifting it up on a bevy of bubbles.

White Pizza Slice

Mushroom Slice

Mushrooms

Wine Pairing: Aged Pinot Noir

Find a Pinot Noir with at least five years of age, and you’ll notice there’s an earthy mushroom-on-fresh-forestfloor quality to it. Meanwhile, Pinot’s innate high acid and red fruit profile will balance that umami and bring a freshness to the palate.


Pepperoni

Wine Pairing: Syrah

Pepperoni has a strong savoriness brought on by a plethora of spices—cayenne, aniseed, garlic. So, you’ll need a wine that can stand up to this intensity, like a bold, spice-filled Northern Rhône Syrah.

Pepperoni Pizza Slice

Olive Onion Slice

Black Olives & Onions

Wine Pairing: Provence Rosé

This South of France blush has a linear acidity that perfectly complements the saltiness black olives bring to the palate. Typically made with a high percentage of Grenache Noir, the fruitfulness of the variety will bring out the sweetness of tomatoes and caramelized onions.


Classic Plain

Wine Pairing: Chianti Classico

A classic pizza calls for a classic pairing. Chianti Classico, made from predominantly Sangiovese, offers vibrant sour cherry notes and elevated acidity to both cut through the richness of il formaggio and parallel the fruity salsa di pomodoro.

Cheese Slice Pizza Slice

Pizza Primavera slice

Pizza Primavera

Wine Pairing: Chenin Blanc

Loading up a pie with an abundance of veggies calls for a fuller-bodied white like Chenin Blanc. The grape’s ripe stonefruit and honey notes aren’t at risk of being overwhelmed by even the most cruciferous veg.


Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Wine Pairing: German Kabinett Riesling

Spicy foods often enhance the burning sensation of alcohol. Look for something with a lower abv and a little bit of residual sugar— like a Kabinett Riesling—to help fan the flames.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Slice
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Grandma Slice

Grandma

Wine Pairing: Barbera

A rustic square Grandma’s slice calls for the rougher edges of Barbera. With its high acidity, the wine cuts through the sauce and tomato and its tobacco notes and herbaceousness bring out the best from the oregano and garlic.


Margherita

Wine Pairing: Gavi di Gavi

A light, fruity, fresh and floral Gavi di Gavi (from the Cortese grape) will not overpower the simple perfection of a margherita slice, and the wine’s slight grassiness on the finish matches up well with the fresh basil and Buffalo mozzarella.

Margarita Pizza

Sicilian Pizza Slice

Sicilian

Wine Pairing: Nerello Mascalese

Sicily’s contribution to the pizza canon boasts a focaccia-like base and goes heavy on the sauce and cheese. Bring out a Nerello Mascalese or an Etna Rosso blend (which almost always heavily features the grape). These Etna reds are enjoying a volcanic surge in popularity and can stand up to anything a Sicilian slice throws at them.

Pizza toppings

TOPPING UP

Adding toppings is what elevates things from a kid’s Saturday afternoon pizza party to a satisfying dinner best enjoyed with a glass of unexpected wine (and presents some challenges). Get ready to put that wine fridge you picked up last summer to good use.

Clams | The round, rich texture of oaked Chardonnay brings out the creaminess of clams.

Anchovies | Salty fish calls for a crisp, high-acid white like Greek Assyrtiko.

Broccoli Rabe & Cherry Peppers | Open a deep, cherry-red Negroamaro from Puglia to tame the bitter green—a wine layered enough to not get lost.

Artichokes | The slight fizz, lower alcohol and kiss of RS in Vinho Verde are a perfect match for this briny topping.

Meatballs | From cooler climes, Cabernet Franc often has a green capsicum note that works so well with this meat-packed slice.

Shrimp | Typically fuller-bodied, riper and rounder, Tempranillo rosé will bring out shrimp’s natural sweetness.

Bacon and Ranch | Creamy dressings call for fuller bodied whites with balanced acid structure like Alsatian Pinot Gris.

Ham & Pineapple | Go for a New World Sauvignon Blanc with tropical notes—look to New Zealand, California and Chile.

Jalapeños | The salinity and tanginess of a Manzanilla Sherry will stand up to this spicy pickled pepper.

Broccoli | Dry, zesty, floral and herby, Grüner Veltliner fits the bill—for a more concentrated style, find a Smaragd from Austria’s Wachau DAC.

BBQ Sauce | The overripe, jammy nature of the fruits (and sometimes a little RS) in California Zinfandel brings out the sweetness in the sauce.

Green Peppers | The pyrazines present in Carménère mirror those you’ll find biting into a crisp bell pepper.

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2023 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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