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. According to industry experts, nearly 40% of Americans get their pizza with pepperoni. The natural spiciness of pepperoni makes it a great partner for bold red wines with firm tannins and subtle spice notes.
Try it with: 2013 Outer Coastal Plain Syrah from Tomasello Winery
2013 Barbera from Alba Vineyard
2014 Malbec from Old York Cellars
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.
Try it with: 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Old York Cellars
2013 Reserve Malbec from Heritage Vineyards
2014 Signature Series Cabernet Franc from Hawk Haven Vineyards
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.
Try it with: 2014 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Beneduce Vineyards
NV Pinot Grigio from Hopewell Valley Vineyards
Meat Lovers Pizza
Pizza pies loaded with meat toppings are bold pies, and so they naturally pair well with bold wines 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’re looking for dark red fruits such as plum, blackberry, and black cherry.
Try it with: 2014 Estate Sangiovese or 2012 Estate Syrah from Working Dog Winery
2013 Outer Coastal Plain Chambourcin from Sharrott Winery
About the author: Michele Thomas is professionally curious; she likes to learn stuff. A certified sommelier with 15 years of experience writing about food, wine, education and the arts, she chronicles her wine escapades as the Bed–Stuy Sommelier (@BedStuySomm) on Instagram and Twitter.
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