The best pizzas pay homage to classic Italian toppings and preparation methods.
The real magic to authentic Italian pizzas are the flavor pairings in the toppings. For example, the most popular Neapolitan/Margherita pizza creates synergy with fresh, acidic tomatoes, aromatic basil and smooth creamy mozzarella. Of course, great pizza reaches a whole new dimension when paired with a well selected wine. Let’s take a look at 6 classic Italian pizzas and the wines that go with them.
The simplest pizza with several variations (you can add cheese or thinly sliced potato). You’ll find the true foundation of a great Bianco pizza is great dough (try Jim Lahey’s outstanding no-knead dough ), decent olive oil, salt and a sprig of rosemary (or sage).
WINE: Fiano di Avellino
Fiano di Avellino
To pair with such a blank canvas, I think a wine that highlights some of the subtle aspects of the salt and piney-herbal characters creates a really exciting, comparative pairing. Fiano di Avellino from Ciro Picarello, with its naturally smokey, piney aromas, its fresh, lees-y character and its balanced acidity make an exciting match.
The Margherita or Neopolitan pizza is a flat round of dough topped with nothing more than tomato gravy, pieces of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. It should be about as large as your plate and, honestly, it doesn’t have that much cheese on it. It’s one of those pizzas where a “proper serving” is the whole pie.
WINE: Barbera d’Alba
Because a Margherita is all about simplicity, I find a pure, expressive version of Barbera, like the Barbera d’Alba from Cascina Fontana, pairs very well as it mimics the freshness of the pizza and has a strong backbone of acidity to match the red sauce.