"If you're waiting for pizza delivery, I suggest using those 30 minutes to relax—grab your lightest bodied red wine available, be it a reasonably priced Chianti, Pinot Noir, or Gamay. Light body, low tannin, and high acid is the key to weaning yourself off of the impulse of a half-rack of beer.
What I am truly loving lately—Frappato from Sicily. Light and floral and fruity and absolutely stunning pizza. I have a stash of the 2011 Occhipinti Frapatto as well as the 2010 Valle dell’acate Frappato for these sorts of situations."—Chris Horn, Purple Café (Bellevue / Seattle)
"Greek reds across the board work well with pizza, as they often have the same mineral and savory notes found in Italian reds, but the fruit has a leaner quality. Xinomavro and Agioritiko are the rock star grapes to look for if you want to give Greek wines and pizza a try."—Caleb Ganzer, DB Bistro Moderne (NY)
Lambrusco or Other Italian Wine
"I must admit that root beer is my all-time favorite pizza pairing, but Lambrusco fills the role well. If you find an earthy style Lambrusco, it's especially great with mushroom pizza. A sweeter style will works great with a spicy pepperoni pizza.
Also, don’t be afraid to try a white wine with pizza—something like a northern Italian white from Friuli or Alto Adige. These wines tend to have enough body to carry the weight of a pizza."—Adam Chumas, Thomas Douglas Restaurants (Seattle)
"Sales reps like to tell you that their juicy/spicy little rustic Italian red is a "great pizza wine"... but what are these crazy pizzas they're eating? Neapolitan style pizza is all about finesse and purity, and the wines should mimic the food in this instance. I love blanc de noirs Champagnes with a classic Margherita pizza. The red fruit in the wine does great with the tomatoes. A good Bandol rosé is also a great call. I like Chateau Pradeaux and Domaine de Terrebrune. A crazy cheap option that is great is the Guilhem rosé from Mas de Daumas Gassac... it's like $10, and does do the trick on a budget. Cortese, from Piemonte, can be fun too. Oh, and older Muscadet from Luneau Papin or Pepiere. Those are good.
If you've got an arugula pie (or something with pepperoni or sausage), try some good Gruner Veltliner, or Roter Veltliner."—Collin Casey, Namu Gaji (San Francisco)
Depends on the Pie
"Since I live in Brooklyn right by the amazing Lucali's, on many nights off you can find me in my favorite BYO establishment trying to find the best wines with pizza. With a basic margarita pie, don't get too complicated. Go with a traditional Chianti that is not overly influenced with oak—something simple and pure. It has bounce and acidity and can complement the basic pizza better than any other wine. Change it up for other pies. My favorite bottle with pepperoni is a fruity Syrah and Grenache blend. If you want to experiment, try 100 year old Mouvedre vines from the Bonny Doon Cigare Volant with your next pepperoni pizza. For a white pizza, I like a crisp white with minerality. My go to is a great chalky and flinty Chablis. Brocard Chablis is always a great value that pairs well. For an overall pick if you want to have some fun, I love a great lambrusco as well. The Opera is my favorite pick as it is a bolder expression of the red bubbly."—Natalie Tapken, Burger & Barrel, Lure, and El Toro Blanco, NYC
Light Italian Reds
"Lighter italian wines are my favorite with pizza. You want freshness and acidity. Lighter wines like Barbera and Frappato do the trick with Neapolitan style pizza where Sangiovese and Nero d'Avola hold up to pizza with meat on it."—Josiah Baldivino, Michael Mina (San Francisco)
"Whenever you have a tomato sauce situation you need a wine with high acidity so it doesn't fall flat due to the acid from the tomatoes. I love Barbera for pizza night! Barbera is an Italian wine that is the most versatile wine I know. It can go with everything and since you might get pizzas with a few toppings, it's great to have a wine that can pair with so many different options. I love the Brovia Barbera from Rosenthal Imports.
Other great pizza night wines are simple sangioveses (leave the Brunello in the cellar, take out the Chianti), Loire Valley reds (Cabernet Franc), and Gamay from Beaujolais. All of these give you that acidity that you need to pair with the tomato sauce and cut through the cheese but with enough flavor to not be overpowered by the pizza."—Joe Campanale, dell’anima, L’Artusi, and Anfora (NYC)
"I like to do regional pairings sometimes…with pizza it is reasonable to drink a delightful Chianti or Brunello. One of my favorites is Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 2005. Barbera is another great choice with pizza. I am always impressed with La Spinetta Barbera D’Asti."—Amy Goldberger, Fifth Floor (San Francisco)
More Italian Suggestions
"Pizza presents many challenges and the best pairings always nod towards Italian. Keep it exciting with a Nerello Mascalese from Sicily. Grown in volcanic soils, it presents more finesse and acidity than the burly Nero d’Avola. Look for Tenuta delle Terre Nere.
I also crave bubbles to cut the doughy heaviness of pizza; the perfect solution here is Lambrusco, dry with red fruit and a refreshing tannic grip (look for the range of wines from Lini 910)."—Ehren Ashkenazi, The Modern (NYC)
Go Spicy and Meaty
"I love spicy pizza; regardless of how it arrives at the table, it is almost always dusted or dashed with some sort of chili powder, flake, or sauce. For this reason, I look for spicy and meaty wines to go with the pie. Syrah from the northern Rhone Valley is a favorite of mine, and lively negroamaros from Salice Salentino are another. Generally speaking, I look for lean, youthful, fruit-driven and spicy wines to accompany my pizza."—Eamon Rockey, Aska (Brooklyn)
[Photo: Nathan Rawlinson]
"For most pizza, I feel that the dominating factor would be the sauce, or the interaction between the sauce, dough, and cheese. I like to go back to the origins of pizza for the pizza pairing challenge. The Sangiovese grape is one that speaks to me when I think of Italy. I recommend Long Shadows “Saggi” Sangiovese/Cabernet blend from Washington State. Or if your boss is taking you out for pizza, upgrade to the Antinori “Tignanello” Sangiovese/Cabernet blend from Tuscany."—Lee Spires, Aqua by El Gaucho, Seattle