Pairing Wines with Pizza

Donelan Chardonnay,
Columbia Crest Riesling
With all the outdoor work to do at this time of year, I don’t always feel like cooking on weekends.  But I can always make room for a slice of pizza and a good glass of wine.  I’m sharing some of my favorite pairings below, but substitute your favorites!

The relatively-new pizza type, the Hawaiian pizza,  always includes cheese, pineapple and some sort of ham, so it is both rich and sweet.   With this pizza, reach for the Riesling or a Chardonnay.

Last week I enjoyed a glass of 2008 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Riesling from Columbia Valley, Washington State.  This pale yellow wine is easily found in supermarkets and wine shops, costing about $10-12  a bottle.  Winemaker Ray Einberger crafted it with a fusion of Old World and New Work styles.  I liked the flavor of ripe peach and apricot, and the minerality provided enough acid to cut through the richness of the cheese.  12 percent alcohol.  If you can’t find the 2008, try one of the later vintages.

An alternative is a Chardonnay.  I paired my Hawaiian pizza slice with the 2011 Donelan Chardonnay “Nancie” from Sonoma County.  Donelan is a boutique winery; only 825 cases of this wine were produced.  If you can’t find this wine locally,  you can order it on the winery website. The nice minerality of this wine comes from fruit sourced in the higher elevations of Sonoma County.  Aroma of lemon, mandarin and ripe honeydew melon lead to a rich taste with some sweet spices integrated into the fruitiness. $45 the bottle.  13.7 per cent alcohol.

The traditional “meat lovers” pizza with salami, bologna, pepperoni, beef etc simply cries out for a big red wine.   Two wines I enjoy with this type of pizza are a Chianti classic and a Zinfandel.

The Santa Margherita Chianti Classico 2007 hails from Tuscany and has a great rich mouthfeel and the juiciness you expect from a Tuscan wine.  Plum, dark berry, maybe a hint of chocolate characterize this wine.  $18 the bottle, 13 per cent alcohol.

Or try the readily-available RavensWood Vintners’s Blend Zinfandel 2008, California.  This yummy Zin just bursts with  bright berry flavors like blueberry and raspberry, and that’s followed with layers of flavor with nice tannins and a warm finish.  I am fond of the winery’s motto:  “No Wimpy Wines.”  $18 the bottle, 14 per cent alcohol.

If you are a fan of Santa Margherita pizza and enjoy it herbal taste, you don’t want a wine with a lot of acidity.  Try a dry rose.

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, on April 11, 2013   

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