Every fall, we jump back into the same hectic routine.
School is back in full swing, work is heating up and the weather is cooling down. And even though this fall, the routine might include remote learning and remote working, there are still some evenings when trying to find time to prepare a home-cooked meal just isn’t in the cards.
That’s when we run up the white flag and surrender to the siren call of carryout pizza — and a good bottle of wine.
Each year, we look back on some of the wines that we have enjoyed over a slice or two of various combinations of toppings and take notes on our favorites. And while we may not always agree on the type of pizza we like to unwind with, we do agree on three simple rules for “pizza wines.”
The wine should be able to mix and mingle with a variety of toppings, it has to cost $20 or less, and it should be easy to find in local wine shops.
So, in an attempt to help reduce the stress of having to make one more decision at the end of a busy day, we offer our annual picks for the perfect wine to go with pizza.
I really like white pizzas, particularly with caramelized onions. White wines with crisp acidity tend to cut through the richness of the cheese, while fresh fruit flavors accent the toppings, so my selections run to the fresher, brighter end of the spectrum.
The 2018 d’Arenberg Marsanne/Viognier “The Hermit Crab” from McLaren Vale, Australia, is a wonderful Rhone varietal blend that will complement the sweetness of the onions and balance the richness of the cheese.
Pretty scents of melon, grapefruit and orange zest dominate the nose while lush flavors of peach, apricot and nectarine glide over a citrus-based frame. The noticeable acidity kept the wine in focus and accented the notes of lemon/lime on the medium finish. $15
Of course, no pizza wine article is complete without an Italian selection, like the 2019 Rocca Felice Roero Arneis from the Piedmont region.
The bouquet of this white wine features scents of stone fruit and white flowers. Flavors of nectarine, yellow peach and citrus are kept crisp and refreshing on the finish thanks to abundant acidity. $17
My favorite pizzas are usually red sauce-based and piled high with an assortment of meat toppings. This combination adds up to a lot of spicy flavors and greasy goodness, so I am seeking out Italian red wines that will be able to stand up to the flavorful challenges of various spices.
My “go to” pizza wine this year is the 2018 Villa Antinori Toscana Red from the Tuscany region of Italy. Made from a blend of Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine is easy on the wallet and easy on the palate.
Aromas of red berries and red cherry drift up from the glass while flavors of red plum, red berry and dark strawberry are balanced in the mouth by subtle tannins and bright acidity. $17
A big, spicy pizza needs a big, flavorful wine, like the 2018 Tenuta del Portale Aglianico del Vulture from the Basilicata region of Italy. It is made from 100% Aglianico (pronounced ah-lee-ah-niko) and is a bold red wine with a full-bodied backbone that supports flavors of blackberry, dark cherry and black plum.
The firm tannins provide a well-rounded frame and the hint of smokiness on the pleasant finish will complement pizzas topped with sausage and pepperoni. $16
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