An Expert’s Guide to Pairing Wine with Your Favorite Pizza
Wine and pizza are a classic combination, whether enjoyed dining out or at home in the bath (hey, don’t knock it ‘til you try it).
Barano, an Italian spot in Brooklyn practically abutting the Williamsburg Bridge, churns out wood-fired pizzas and other classically rustic dishes while pouring from an extensive wine list that’s perfect for date night or dinner with that fun client. Its beverage director, Jason White, is known for his passion and expertise in all-things wine and pizza—he understands which vintages and pies pair better than others and why, so we sat down with the fermentation aficionado to find out his suggestions for the best wines to drink with our favorite pizzas:
“The simple yet robust flavor combination of crisped dough, mozzarella, and fresh tomato sauce calls for a wine that will balance out the brightness of the tomato; the savory and sweet flavors of the mozzarella; and the tart, savory char of the crust without under- or overpowering them. Going with a medium-bodied and more acid-driven Pinot Noir is a great choice but if you're looking for a wine with a little bit more body than Pinot Noir, a well-made lighter Cabernet Franc from a cool climate is outstanding.”
“One of our favorite styles of wines here at Barano to pair with spicy pepperoni is a medium- or medium-plus-bodied red with peppery notes and light to medium tannin. Our go-to currently is a lesser known varietal found in the south of Italy in Puglia called Susumaniello which, when made well, offers a bouquet of sweet and savory spices and a great black-and-white-pepper-covered cherry finish, balancing out the meaty notes of this very popular pie.”
“I really love funky and fun wines in addition to clean and classic selections. For this kind of pizza I always reach for a brighter, more energetic white wine with additional time on the skins, like an orange wine. Sauvignon Blanc is another grand slam with this dish, especially one with ripe yellow orchard fruit backed by a light backbone of volatile acidity. Think really light and fresh but also a bit sour with a pectin-forward tannin structure—and the older the better.”
“Oh ricotta, how I love thee and your playfulness with wines. For light and fluffy ricotta like the kind we make, I like to suggest white wines that are dry and mineral-forward with higher acidity from cooler climates. Another really fun and more old-school pairing would be a dry Chenin Blanc out of the Loire Valley in France.”
“With the light saltiness coming from the sea-soaked clams meeting our housemade mozzarella, we like crisp and clean whites from the old world. My favorite pairing is one with slight minerality and a fruity structure, bright and refreshing citrus character, and overall approachability. Be careful though, if you're not paying attention, these kinds of wines are gone before the you finish the pizza.”