Whether you’re enjoying pizza delivered to your home or you’re heading to your favorite Italian restaurant, nothing complements a slice of pizza like a glass of the right wine.
Unfortunately, pizza comes with so many variations in sauces and toppings that it can be challenging to choose the right wine pairing.
Some quick tips before we explore pizza and wine pairings in more depth:
- Savory red pizza with sausage or pepperoni pairs well with red wines.
- Creamy white pizza pairs well with full-bodied white wines.
- Delicately-flavored pizza pairs well with rosé wines.
As a guiding principle, the most effective wine pairings for pizza include light-bodied and fruity reds, as well as fuller-bodied whites loaded with character.
While some Italian wines work well with most pizza – Barbera, Lambrusco, and Sangiovese, for instance – the right wine pairing will ultimately depend largely on your pizza of preference.
With today’s guide, we’ll give you some general pairing tips and then highlight 10 of our favorite wines chosen to represent a wide variety of pizza. There should be something for everyone today!
Let’s get started with the basics of pairing wine with pizza.
Pairing Pizza with Wine
There are two core considerations when choosing wine for pizza:
- Pizza sauce
- Pizza toppings
Pairing wine with a traditional tomato-based pizza is one thing, but how about pairing wines with specialty pizza like white pizza or pizza with pesto sauce?
Well, fans of specialist pizza won’t be left out. White wines and sparkling wines make excellent choices with white pizza.
Once you have navigated the hurdle of the pizza sauce, it’s time to factor in the toppings on the pizza. If you have a simple pizza with just tomato, cheese, and basil, this will require a different wine pairing than a richer, spicier pie loaded with jalapeños and pepperoni.
So, rather than searching in vain for a universal pizza and wine pairing, instead focus on the pizza toppings when choosing wine. You want a wine pairing that complements or contrasts the flavors and ingredients in your pizza.
To guide you, consider this general framework:
- Tomato-based pizza: Pizza with a simple sauce like margherita or marinara pair effectively with light red wines and dry rosé wines.
- Cheese pizza: Four-cheese pizza and similar cheese-forward variants respond well to pairing with strong white wines or bolder and full-bodied reds like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Cannonau di Sardegna, Aglianico, or Sangiovese.
- Meaty pizza: Meat-based pizza is typically packed with flavor, so balance this out with a softer, fruitier wine like Sangiovese, Barbaresco, or Barbera.
- White pizza: White pizza – pizza bianca – pairs well with whites like Falanghina, Pinot Grigio, and Prosecco.
- Mushroom: Mushroom pizza like pizza con funghi is well-supported by a complex and savory wine like Chianti.
The above pairings cover most standard-issue pizza, but don’t let it put you off if you prefer a more adventurous style of pie. With a little patience and experimentation, you can find the perfect pairing. Consider these five general pointers:
- White wines pair well with seafood.
- Red wines pair well with red meat.
- Wine should always be less acidic than the flavors of the pizza.
- Fatty meats respond favorably to pairing with full-bodied or medium-bodied red wines.
- Ensure the wine is always sweeter than the toppings on the pizza.
Before we give you our rundown of 10 of the best wine pairings with pizza, it’s time to answer the age-old question – red or white?
Should You Pair Pizza with Red or White Wine?
Many people who have never tried pairing wine with pizza before ask whether red or white works best.
There is no universal answer to this question, with some wines responding more favorable to certain pizzas.
For a traditional thin-crust pizza made with cheese and a tomato sauce, hearty red wines make the best choice. The richness of a red will complement the yeasty, doughy crust, as well as the overall earthiness of the pizza.
As you’ll discover below, though, some foods – seafood, for example – call for a white wine.
If you’re stuck for ideas, use the following wines as a starting point and experiment until you find the perfect pairing for your pizza.
10 of the Best Wine and Pizza Pairings
- Dry Rosé
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Beaujolais Cru
- Côtes du Rhône Blend
- Pinot Noir
1) Dry Rosé
All rosé wines pair well with light and simple pizza like margherita.
Rosé wine is made using red grapes that have had skin contact for only a few hours. Contrast this with red wines which often spend several weeks on the skins.
While rosé wine varies substantially in terms of both taste and color, there are some flavors common to this type of wine like melon, strawberry, and citrus zest that offer the ideal contrast with the simplicity of a margherita.
For all lovers of Hawaiian pizza, semi-dry Riesling makes a commendable pairing with the pineapple in this type of pie.
The sweetness of great Riesling wine draws out more sweetness from the pineapple, although this is tempered and balanced by the acidity of the wine.
3) Sauvignon Blanc
Do you love salad pizzas loaded with spinach and arugula? If so, you’ll need a wine capable of slicing through all that greenery.
Choose a sauvignon blanc, a wine filled with flavors from kiwi and lime to sweet green apple.
There are quite high levels of acidity in this wine, a refreshing palate-cleanser while chowing down on pizza.
Meat feast pizzas piled with pepperoni and sausage call for a robust red wine to bring out the best in the pie.
Syrah is one of your best options. This wine will intensity the spices in those meats, and at the same time enhancing the wine’s flavor profile. Additionally, using Syrah wine will introduce some new flavors like olive, blackberry, and plum.
This sparkling Italian red wine will powerfully cleanse your palate after overloading on cheese.
Make sure you serve this red wine chilled and straight from the wine cooler so it acts as a reviving pick-me-up during a meal that can make you sleepy.
Dry Lambrusco is the most effective style of you’re looking to enhance the savory side of your pizza.
6) Beaujolais Cru
Beaujolais cru wines are the ideal accompaniment to vegetarian, mushroom, or potato pizzas.
This style of light red wine is delicate and tasty, and it’s also reasonably affordable. This wine will provide you with the earthy and mushroomy profile of pinot noir wines without the stiff price tag.
Due to the earthiness of this wine, it matches well with a mushroom pizza.
Chardonnay is a full-bodied white wine that not only intensifies the creaminess of your pizza, but also adds structure and body.
Ideally, pair chardonnay with creamy white pizza.
8) Côtes du Rhône Blend
For those who can’t get enough cheese on their pizza, Côtes du Rhône blend brings out the very finest qualities in your four-cheese pie.
As an acidic wine, Côtes du Rhône will work well with the pizza’s tomato sauce. There are enough tannins in the wine to add valuable structure and to help cleanse your palate.
The Grenache present in this blended wine introduces flavors of candied fruit, cinnamon, and raspberry. The Mourvèdre adds more tannins, more structure, and more color to your wine. The third wine in a Côtes du Rhône blend (Syrah) adds notes of blueberry, plum, and black olive.
Chianti is arguably the most popular pairing with pizza. Made in Italy, Chianti comes from Sangiovese grapes.
If you find a top-notch chianti, it will be savory and spicy. A fruity wine, you’ll taste bitter herbs, balsamic vinegar, and faint notes of leather. Imagine drinking an olive and that’s how chianti tastes.
Brunello di Montalcino, made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, is the optimum example if you’re looking to give yourself a treat.
10) Pinot Noir
If you love white pizza but hate white wine, pinot noir is a red that pairs well with this type of pizza.
Since this red wine is subtle, it won’t overpower the pizza in the way a Shiraz would. The earthy notes work well with green herbs and mushrooms, too.
You should now have a sound overview of the various types of wine that work well with different pizzas.
Remember: with most traditional pizzas, it’s a safe bet to stick with red wine. Even with white pizza, the right red wine can make a great pairing.
We tried to include wines at different price points so there should be something for everyone here today.
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