It’s no secret that pizza is delicious. Its dominance among popular food is no surprise. What is surprising, however, is the fact that pizza has developed its mega-popular status just over the last 70 years or so, following the end of World War II.
In the first years of the 20th century, pizza was mostly made and consumed by working class Italian immigrants as a taste of the Old Country.
However, by the late 1940s, American soldiers returning from the war front brought with them a new appreciation of Italian food, including pizza. Pizza developed a consumer base that extended beyond immigrant neighborhoods, and an industry was born.
And it’s an industry that has been growing ever since. Today, more than 90 percent of Americans grab at least one slice every month, earning the pizza industry nearly $40 billion per year, per the International Franchise Association. According to historians, there’s something else that American soldiers brought back with them from the great war in Europe – a taste for wine.
Here are some local pairings to try with your next slice of tomato pie, meat lovers or Chicago deep dish-style, pizza. Buon appetito!
It’s the ubiquitous go-to topping when pizza lovers are looking to jazz up their plain cheese pie. In fact, according to industry experts, nearly 40% of Americans get their pizza with pepperoni. Of course, the natural spiciness of pepperoni makes it a great partner for bold red wines with firm tannins and subtle spice notes.
This classic pie is named for Queen Margherita of Savoy. It features the colors of the Italian flag – red, white, and green – as well as some of Italy’s most iconic flavors – tomato, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. These flavors are ideally matched with wines that carry a hint of fresh earth and dried herbs, such as Bordeaux varieties like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.
A stark departure from the traditional red-sauce covered pie, white pizzas create an opportunity to play with brightness, or acidity, and texture. Look for barrel-fermented or moderately oaked wines with pear or tropical fruits on the nose or palate, and herbal notes that complement the basil and tarragon on the pie.
Meat Lovers Pizza
Pizza pies loaded with meat toppings are bold pies, and so they naturally pair well with bold wines; ones with ripe, round fruit, silky tannins, and green spice notes like fennel, thyme, and oregano. For these pizzas (as well as sausage-only pies), you want dark red fruits like plum, blackberry, and black cherry.
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Brent Hofacker/Adobe Stock