OPINION

BOTTLE SHOTS: Perfect wine pairing for pizza depends on the pizza


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a hungry person in possession of an empty stomach must be in want of a pizza. Or, at least, I think that's what Jane Austen said. For me, pizza is just a perfect food. Even the worst pizza ... is still somehow completely satisfying. As Arkansans, we're lucky to have a glut of great options -- like Raduno in Little Rock, Pizzeria Ruby in Springdale and even Pine Bluff's The Big Banjo, where so many of my childhood birthday parties took place.

Of course, the only thing that makes pizza better is wine, and if you've ever wondered which wines go best with which pies, this is the column for you.

Sausage and Fennel

Lambrusco: Roughly translated as "wild grape," lambrusco hails from northern Italy, where it's typically made into sparkling wine and can be sweet or dry. It's a winner at the dinner table because it pairs well with everything. Its ultra-fruity flavors – think strawberry, rhubarb and hibiscus flowers – perfectly complement the subtle anise-like flavor of fennel you'll find in Italian sausage.

Margherita

Barbera: With flavors like tart cherries, oregano and black pepper, barbera is the "daily drinker" of Italian wine. I especially like it with Margherita pizza because it works so well with the basil (and to me, in this instance, pizza is really just a basil consumption device). White wine also works well here. If you'd like that, reach for something with herbal flavors like sauvignon blanc.

Fungi

Nebbiolo: If you've been reading this column for any length of time, you're probably familiar with how much I love the nebbiolo grape, especially from the Barolo or Barbaresco regions. As nebbiolo ages, it develops a unique umami savoriness that is perfect with pizza piled high with mushrooms.

Prosciutto and Arugula

Franciacorta: Think of Franciacorta as Italy's answer to Champagne. Made in the same style with the same grapes as those famous French sparklers, these wines show finesse and style, along with notes of lemon, peach, almonds and toasted bread. It works especially well here because the extra fattiness of the prosciutto works as the perfect foil against the soft, pillowy bubbles.

Spicy

(pepperoni, soppressata, and the like)

Zinfandel: I'll be honest, there are a lot of different pairings that could work here, but I think zinfandel is my favorite because of its unctuous, almost sweet fruit notes. At its best, zinfandel offers waves of chocolate, blackberry and plum, along with a weighty texture that I think plays very well with the spicier side of the Italian meat spectrum.

Cheese

Italian white wine: There are so many options here, more than enough to be its own column, but this is where Italy's native white wines really shine. These grapes aren't as famous as the native whites of France, but they're still delicious. Look for bottles of fiano, vermentino or falanghina. My personal favorite is verdicchio, which grows along Italy's Adriatic coast and tastes like salty sea air.

As always, you can see what I'm drinking on Instagram at @sethebarlow and send your wine questions and quibbles to

sethebarlowwine@gmail.com


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