There’s nothing like a good wine when you’re craving it, and the same goes for pizza!
And though these two aren’t paired as a rule, one can certainly enhance the other.
Meat Lover’s Pizza with California Zinfandel:
While the origin of the Zinfandel grape is hotly contested in the wine world, there is no question that Italians brought this grape to California in the late 1800s, and we’re so glad they did. The California climate produces a wine that is dark in color, spicy and loaded with fruit. So, sip a Zin between bites of a fully loaded, protein-packed pizza and discover a new favorite pairing!
Classic Cheese and Lambrusco:
Luckily for us, Lambrusco survived the sweet wines craze of the 70s and 80s. Its age-old Italian pedigree could have something to do with it, or its wide range of expressions — from very sweet to dry. For the perfect cheesy pizza companion, try a Lambrusco on the semisweet or dry side. Bonus: it even has a light spritz of bubbles!
Pizza Margherita and Chianti:
Chianti is one of Italy’s most famous and celebrated wines, and a true Chianti can only come from that very region in the Tuscan hills, which produces wines from young and fruity to aged and complex. The Margherita-style pizza, traditionally made with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, pairs delightfully with a light, young and fruity Chianti.
Chianti also has an American cousin! In the late 1800s, Italians immigrating to California brought cuttings of their Sangiovese grape with them. This version of Chianti, named for the grape, is fruitier and higher in alcohol, but also goes beautifully with the flavors in pizza. As with the Chianti, young and fruity is the way to go.
Deep-Dish and Barbera:
From the cool, northwestern Piedmont region of Italy, the Barbera grape came from Italy to California. It thrives in the Sierra Foothills region, is high in acidity and low in tannins. Light and refreshing, Barbera is packed with berry flavors and is the perfect complement to a thick, doughy pizza like a Chicago-style, a Deep Dish or a Sicilian.
Regardless of toppings, pizza typically requires a substantial wine, i.e., a red. But white wine lovers, I’ve not forgotten you! A crisp Pinot Grigio can be a lovely addition to pizza night, especially to pies loaded with fresh veggie toppings. A rule to go by: Italian wine and California wines with Italian grapes make for the very best wine-pizza pairings.
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
The perfect bottle of hand-crafted artisan wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Road. Wine by the glass, cheese platters and tastings are available Monday-Saturday from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. (843) 842-3141 or www.islandwinery.com.