When you’re drinking and eating a pie, pizza and beer is the obvious choice. But sipping wine with your next slice promises a seriously delicious alternative—and might have you ditching the brews-with-pies for good. While adhering to stringent food and wine pairing rules isn’t entirely our jam, following a few basic tips will absolutely lead you to a much better pairing than grabbing a bottle blind.
First and foremost, understanding the basics of food and wine pairing is key. This comes down to acid and tannins in wine, coupled with salt and fat in food. Acid in wine complements saltiness in food, which helps to bring out a given dish’s flavors and is also key in cutting through fat to refresh the palate with every bite. Tannins, however, are a whole other beast. When sipped on their own, tannic wines can be rather unpleasant, as they can leave an overly dry sensation in your mouth; however, when sipped with fatty foods, a chemical reaction takes place in your mouth that both softens the wine’s tannins and amplifies flavor in food all at once. Think of it as a food-and-wine-pairing win-win.
Beyond dough and cheese, considering a pizza’s sauce and toppings (or lack thereof) is key. While pondering the amount (and type) of cheese to have on your slice also think about the toppings on your pie, that’s the key to finding the best bottle to pop alongside it. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got a few great places to start.
Check out our guide below and be on your way to being a certified wine-and-pizza sommelier in no time.
Cheese and red sauce are the name of the game here – and there’s no better pairing with tomato sauce than Sangiovese. This classic Italian grape is the backbone to Tuscany’s signature wines, including Chianti Classico, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, and more. The wine’s bright acidity and robust tannins—and above all, tomato-driven undertones—perfectly complement the ingredients on a plain slice.
Dare we say it, but this might be the quintessential pizza pairing wine. Period.
Volpaia Chianti Classico, Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino, Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino
Pepperoni / Meat Lovers Pizza
Pairing: Bold Reds (Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot)
While Sangiovese-based wines would also be delightful here, grabbing something with a bit more oomph is key to ensuring that the wine in question stands up to the copious amount of meats found on pepperoni or meat lovers’ slices. Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot all have the body and structure to accompany these hearty slices, though the nuances are simply a matter of taste. For something juicy and fruit-forward, reach for Zinfandel; for something more peppery and savory, Syrah is your choice. For an earthy-yet-silky dance between the two, look no further than Merlot.
Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Zinfandel, Pax North Coast Syrah, L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Merlot
Pairing: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay
Pairing wine with white pizza is a little more flexible, as the best wine marriage ultimately depends on the preparation of the pie. Should you be reaching for a simple plain white slice, then there’s no better pairing than Chardonnay (especially White Burgundy). The wine’s medium to full-bodied nature, coupled with its zesty acidity, brings the best out of the ricotta and mozzarella flavors found in the pie. Pinot Noir or Gamay could also work here, especially if the pizza is topped with mushrooms, as these light-on-their-feet reds are the best pairings in town for everyone’s favorite fungi.
Camille Giroud Bourgogne Blanc, Flâner Wines Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly
Margherita / Grandma Pizza
Pairing: Dry Rosé or Sicilian Reds (Etna Rosso, Frappato, etc.)
Margherita and Grandma pizza is quite similar to your plain slice, though these two picks generally boast less—both in quantity and pungent flavor—cheesiness than the shredded mozzarella used on a cheese pie, as fresh mozzarella is the name of the game here. While a number of types of wine could work, we’ve found that dry rosé is an excellent choice, as the wine’s fruitiness, acid, and lack of tannins make the sweetness of the sauce shine.
For a more savory pairing, reaching for a bottle of light to medium-bodied Sicilian red—think Frappato, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, or Etna Rosso.
Go-to Bottles: Baudry Chinon Rosé, Benanti Etna Rosso, COS Frappato
Pairing: Jack of All Trades – Crisp, Zesty Whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner) or Chillable Reds (Gamay, Valdiguié, Schiava)
Veggie pizza is all about versatility, and when it comes to pairing wine with it, the same theme rings true. Due to the number of veggies, the potential use of sauce, and the variable amount of cheese found on these slices, a number of wines could work here. Zesty, acid-forward whites promise to complement the veg and also cut through the fattiness of the cheese, though chillable reds will pair a bit better with red sauce, should your veggie pie bear a thin layer of it.
Either way, you really can’t go wrong here.
Sohm & Kracher Grüner Veltliner, Te Mata Sauvignon Blanc, Elena Walch Schiava
BONUS TIP: When In Doubt…
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.
As most industry professionals will tell you, dry sparkling wines—both white and rosé—are the most food-friendly wines on the planet. Their bright acidity, coupled with refreshing, fruit-driven notes (as well as their lack of tannins) makes them perfect for sipping with basically every food on the planet. Whether Champagne, Prosecco, or sparkling rosé is more your jam, you really can’t go wrong here, no matter which type of pizza is on the table.