Culinary trends come and go—Hawaiian poke bowls…Peruvian feasts…craft butter. But pizza abides. It is—yet again!—the most popular delivery food in the US, according to a 2018 survey by consumer-tracking firm NPD Group.
If you’re a wine lover, that’s good news. There’s always a great wine pairing that’s affordable whether your pizza of choice is regular, deep dish or thin crust…pepperoni, sausage and meatballs or even less traditional toppings. The truth is, pizza is one of the most perfect foods for wine.
If you want only one simple and foolproof recommendation, here it is: The kind of wine that goes with almost any pizza is a dry rosé. A French chef once told me that’s all he ever drinks with pizza. The Cortijo rosé from Spain (about $10) shows why. It has tart berry fruit, a crisp mouth feel and a long, refreshing finish. It’s light enough to match with any lighter style of pizza but also crisp and tart enough to balance the gooiest, fattiest pizza. These days, there are lots of dry rosés in US wine stores that will also do the trick. With something as casual as pizza, you can drink a dry rosé anywhere from slightly chilled to icy cold—whatever you prefer—30 minutes in the fridge to overnight.
But it’s fun to drill a little deeper and select specific wines that pair well with specific kinds of pizza. These wines, all great values for the price, go with three very different styles of pizza—and if you choose the pizza below that’s most similar to any other kind of pizza you get, the recommended wine will be a good match, too…
National-chain pizza, heavy on the cheese, plain, with pepperoni or other meat, or with just about any topping. Try Black Box Merlot from California (about $20 for a three-liter box, the equivalent of four bottles). It has lots of soft berry fruit with just enough acidity and tannins (which cause the astringent feel in the back of your mouth). All of this will nicely complement the pizza’s very cheesy approach. This wine has a bit more chocolate and oak notes than I usually prefer in a merlot, but it really works with delivery-guy pizza. Don’t worry about the fact that the box holds so much wine—even after you drink some, it will keep the remaining wine fresh for at least six weeks.
Thin-crust pizza with shaved prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano. This isn’t an especially heavy pie, but it is salty and rich. That’s why it calls for a rustic red wine. The Italians have a knack for making inexpensive red wines that are not overly refined and have great style. My choice: The Italian Rocca di Montemassi Le Focaie (about $11), made from the sangiovese grape from the Tuscany region. It offers earthiness with just a touch of tart cherry fruit, and complements this salty pie nicely. Other sangiovese wines will work well, too.
White pizza with roast chicken, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and provolone. White wine pairs well with white pizza—no surprise—but not every white wine. A large Spanish producer, CVNE, makes several top-notch $10 wines that do very well. Its Monopole Blanco, a white blend, is light and interesting, with floral aromas and stone fruit and baking spice flavors. It’s the kind of pairing that sneaks up on you—halfway through the pizza, you realize how well the wine goes with it. If your wine store doesn’t have this wine, ask for a Spanish white made with the viura grape.