Push your pizza boundaries and match wines to toppings.

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Margherita pizza with red wine
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Pizza is the ultimate casual, fun food, which probably explains why people in the U.S. eat something around 3 billion pizzas every year. (That's right: 3 billion.) Given its ubiquity, dwelling too much on which wine pairs best with which pizza could seem a bit like perhaps you're missing the point. You want Sauvignon Blanc with your spicy soppressata pie? An IPA? A shot of tequila? Chocolate milk? Hey, go for it.

But thinking about wine pairings is, believe it or not, fun (at least if you don't take it too seriously), and the truth is that a wine that goes amazingly well with a veggie pizza topped with green peppers and broccoli might not be the one that sings out in harmony with a meat lover's pepperoni-sausage-ham extravaganza (far more fat in the latter: good with red wine tannins). As Randall Restiano, the beverage director at Serra by Birreria in New York City's Eataly, says, "Pizza and wine are among my favorite things to pair, but obviously, the toppings make a world of difference."

He's right (and I know that partly because he sent over about 10 different pies to our tasting to prove the point). So, for anyone who's game, here are a few proposals that will push your pizza-wine experience into perfection.

White pizza with sparkling rose
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

The White Pizza + Sparkling Rosé

The white pie divides people: Some love it, and some just walk away wondering what the heck happened to the tomato sauce. Regardless, losing the acidity that tomatoes provide changes the pairing equation. The gentle fruitiness and tingly bubbles of sparkling rosé work perfectly here.

NV Le Monde Sparkling Pinot Nero
($20)
Sparkling rosé Pinot Noir from Italy's Friuli region? Well, why not—especially when it's as appealing as this vibrant wine is.

NV Valdo Marca Oro Prosecco Rosé
($15)
This dry, zesty sparkling rosé from Italy's Prosecco region recalls the rosés of Provence: watermelon, strawberry, and a little raspberry.

NV Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rosé
($15)
Spanish Cava is superb with a slice of Manchego and bread, and what is a white pizza but bread covered in melted cheese? Segura Viudas' rosé version is delightful.

NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé
($89)
Who says Champagne has to be reserved for fancy foods like caviar? Billecart's elegant rosé is pricey, but why not try a half-bottle for date night?

Pizza Pairings
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Perfect with Pepperoni + Bold, Spicy Reds

There's such joy to be found in those upturned cups of heat-blasted pepperoni on the most popular pizza style in the U.S. There's also the (admittedly delicious) glistening oil that cured meats like pepperoni and soppressata release as they cook. Look for reds with some tannic oomph to balance the fat.

2017 Dow Vale Do Monfim Duoro
($12)
Made from varieties like Touriga Nacional typically used for port wine, this purple-hued Portuguese red is full of ripe berry fruit and soft, mouth-coating tannins. A hint of violets lifts the aroma.

2018 Cantina Colosi Nero D'Avola Sicilia
($15)
Terraced vineyards near the southern coast of Sicily provide the grapes for this dark-fruited, structured red—think black cherries and plums, fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel.

2019 Carlisle Sonoma County Zinfandel
($31)
Terraced vineyards near the southern coast of Sicily provide the grapes for this dark-fruited, structured red—think black cherries and plums, fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel.

2017 Pasqua Passionesentimento Rosso
($16)
This abundantly flavorful Veronese red uses the primary grape of Amarone, Corvina, at its core. It's full-bodied and rich—if there were such a thing as a wild boar ragù pizza, this would be your go-to.

Margherita pizza with red wine
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Classic Cheese + Pinot, Chianti, and Friends

Whether it's a plain cheese from Domino's or a Margherita made with buffalo mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil, and tomatoes straight from the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, the key here is simplicity (and not that much fat). Chianti Classico really does work like a charm, but so do other midweight reds, like Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or even Pinot Noir from Oregon.

2018 Badia A Coltibuono Chianti Classico
($22)
Chianti Classico refers to the region itself, not the style, but there's no question that this is spot-on Chianti Classico: crisp acidity, notes of dried herbs, wild berry flavors. It's a great weeknight dinner wine.

2018 Roserock Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir
($32)
Pinot with pizza? Why not! The fine tannins and savory notes that Pinot grapes attain in Oregon's Willamette Valley make it an ideal partner. This spicy, medium-bodied wine from Domaine Drouhin's Roserock estate is a go-to choice.

2017 Salcheto Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano
($24)
A short distance across the Tuscan countryside from Chianti lies the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano appellation. Sangiovese here tends to be riper and richer, and this wine from Salcheto—made from organically farmed grapes—is characteristic, with robust dark fruit.

2019 Bernabeleva Camino De Navaherreros
($18)
Grenache from Spain's Gredos region, near Madrid, tends toward supple elegance, with bright, red-fruit flavors and firm minerality. This one hits the target.

Veggie pizza with red wine
Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

The Veggie Pie + Crisp, Chillable Reds

When we taste-tested a range of pizzas with a slew of wines from around the world at the F&W offices, we found that the No. 1 fave for a veggie-topped pizza was a light-bodied and (if you want) chillable red. The crisp zip of the wine was inarguably excellent with zucchini, broccoli, arugula, and more. Light Italian reds like Piedmont's Freisa grape were standouts, but there are plenty of other options.

2019 J. Lohr Wildflower Valdiguié
($10)
Almost no one grows Valdiguié (once known as "Napa Gamay") in California anymore, but J. Lohr has been at it with determination for decades. Moderate in alcohol and full of lively pomegranate and pepper flavors, it's a total pleasure.

2018 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga Speziale
($28)
This plummy Pelaverga comes from a family who has been making wine in the area since 1870; they're masters of this unusual grape.

2018 Pio Cesare Barbera d'Alba
($27)
Pio Boffa, the irrepressible force behind this historic Piedmontese producer's wines, passed away this year from COVID, a terrible loss. But his family will keep the winery going (as it has for five generations now), making wines like this cherry-spicy Barbera. Raise a toast to him with it.

2018 Vietti Freisa Vivace
($28)
Lightly tingly, bursting with ripe raspberry notes, and just generally full of life, this Piedmontese red from acclaimed Barolo winemaker Luca Currado is a delight to drink—serve it lightly chilled.

October 2021

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