Wine and pizza are synonyms of unity, like Dolce & Gabana or SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star. It has been a very long time since these two met. No need to argue which came first – wine and pizza have always been the sine qua non of a staple Italian meal.
Ok, so we established, they are inseparable. But which wine should we go for? Once upon a time, travelling through Italy’s antique Mediterranean townships with narrow, cobbled streets with its typical uproar, vocal vendors and laid back Italians watching the world go by I remember devouring pizza and flushing it down with whatever wine was available. Both tasted like ambrosia. I blame the ambience, holiday mood and lack of pizza variety.
Let’s get back to reality. For some unknown reason, classic Italian pizza has morphed into dozens of varieties. Picking the correct wine is not an easy task anymore. But, do not panic – as always, I’m here to help.
First, let’s start with Margarita. It’s the mother of all pizzas. Named after Queen Margherita, it’s the creation of a Neapolitan pizza maker. Consisting of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese (& lots of it!), garnished with basil, resembling the Italian flag. For those who think, white should dominate the flag, Pinot Grigio would be the perfect choice. The 2017 Amadio Pinot Grigio, although made in Australia’s Adelaide Hills, is made with true Italian spirit (pun unintended). This fresh and lively single vineyard Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio displays exceptional cool-climate characteristics with Nashi pear and lemon citrus on the nose with a stunningly crisp bluestone minerality. These aromas develop into guava, green lime and hints of honey on the palate concluding with a dramatic clean and crisp finish that identifies the true meaning of balanced acidity.
Well, pizza isn’t just cheese. What are we going to drink when we discover a pepperoni on top of it? Italian sausage loves wine. And pepperoni is no different. Red in the glass becomes dominant. Sangiovese would be a good pick, as well as the blended variety, such as 2018 T.S.S. Blend of – Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Shiraz. A blend of three amazing Mediterranean varieties working together in perfect synergy. Oaky, medium bodied, juicy, gently savoury, fresh and youthful: wine does not have to be complicated to be delicious! If we desire something slightly different, I suggest Anderson Hill Art Series Pinot Noir. It will bring a true Italian dolce vita into your glass. Clear, bright ruby colour. This cool climate Pinot Noir has a nose of sour cherry and raspberry with herbal and smoky clove characters. Flavours of raspberries, strawberries, cherries and violets. Herbal and earthy spices. Delizioso!
Many pizzerias serve pizza bianco, white pizza. It is essentially the same product minus tomatoes. Personally, I’m not sure why anyone would give up on the little red fellas, but variety is a spice of life. Anderson Hill Art Series Sparkling Chardonnay would be a perfect match here. Bright, light lemon colour with a never-ending chain of many fine bubbles. It has a peachy, pear and red apple nose with a little hint of yeast to add complexity. A clean, dry, delightful sparkling with intense fruit character and a fresh dynamic acidity. White pizza and sauvignon blanc are another match made in heaven. Anderson Hill Art Series Sauvignon Blanc would be my pick. Refreshing green apple, mint and pineapple aroma. The Palate is driven by lemon and passionfruit with clean, gentle acidity and finishes with a slight grapefruit sweetness that lingers on the lips.
It is not a secret that meat lovers especially prefer wine with their pizza, so it’s time to pull out the big guns, such as shiraz, cabernet sauvignon or even tempranillo. What has caught my eye and charmed my taste buds is the stunning Fork in the Road Reserve Shiraz 2017. With its brilliant display of depth and colour, a powerful and deeply flavoured wine. Blackberry and plum combined with spice and earthiness. Firm, yet elegant tannins and balanced natural acidity lead to a dramatic finish that will reward both short- and long-term cellaring.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon to spend almost an hour analysing the pizza menu in a restaurant. The creativity has no limits: seafood lovers, meat lovers, vegetarians, gluten free, full of gluten, with a choice of 50 add-on toppings. However, in my opinion, the most outlandish of them is Hawaiian pizza. Its name comes from pineapple, the active ingredient of this monster. Hawaiian pizza rules the world and has divided people across the globe. For some it’s a mockery of the famous dish, others worship it, but for wine lovers it is a great excuse to reach for riesling – perfect match with a pineapple. The region of the Clare Valley with its cooler climate is perfect for this variety. 2017 La Luna Riesling is my favourite. It has a high intensity of fruity aroma, such as lemon. On the palate the crisp acidity with the scent of citrus, inhabits the mouth for a long time.
If after reading this, you are still a bit lost, but suddenly developed a pressing urge to eat pizza, all I can suggest is to opt for a safe choice. Rose is a variety which will go well with almost all kinds of pizza. My personal favourite is Pindarie 2019 Rosedale Road Rosé. Delicate florals and cherry fruits, hints of pomegranate and rhubarb. Fresh and lively! Full-flavoured yet fresh and crisp, echoes the lively aromas. Dry and textured with a trace of tannin. Buon Apetito!