Weeknight Dinner Pairings: Pizza and Wine

There's more to pizza wine than chianti

Pizza debates usually take on the critical question: thick crust or thin? Since more than a few of us hail from Chicago, deep-dish pie from a spot like Lou Malnati’s usually wins.

But what to drink with your preferred pizza? Pizza and beer comes close, but to our way of thinking, that combo’s not nearly as satisfying as a dinner of pizza and the right wine. It’s easy to stick to Italian varietals when it comes to pizza and wine pairings, but why not think outside the boot — or at least explore beyond Tuscany?

Here are some pizza and wine combos that we taste-tested for your dining pleasure:

Pepperoni — It’s crisp, salty, and fatty and the most popular pizza topping around. Your inner child would pair pepperoni with Orange Crush, but it’s surprisingly delicious with a well-balanced version of cabernet sauvignon.

Our pick: ANDREW LANE Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Rutherford, Calif.) $40

Sausage Pizza Bianca with Rapini and Egg — This is an odd one, since porky sausage usually says red wine. But the fact that this pizza is tomato-less, plus the earthy greens and the egg push it toward a white with some body.

Our pick: TERREDORA DI PAOLO Iripina Falanghina 2011 (Campania, Italy) $15

Fig, Prosciutto, and Blue Cheese — This has been one of our favorite fall pizzas, ever since we first tasted the Todd English version at Olives. These days, we like to toss on some arugula, too; it adds bite and makes the pizza seem a wee bit healthier. So what wine complements ham, blue cheese, and figs? Sherry, of course! Your only decision is between drier amontillado and sweeter oloroso.

Our pick: SANDEMAN "Character" Amontillado Sherry, non-vintage (Jerez, Spain) $15

Meat Lover’s Pizza — You might be thinking of the one from the national pizza chain, but we’re dreaming of the one from Pizzeria Mozza in LA. Topped with artisanal bacon, salami, guanciale, fennel sausage, tomatoes, and mozzarella, this begs for a fruity and dry red wine from a place where they understand salumi.

Our pick: TERRE Primitivo 2010 (Puglia, Italy) $9


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