Food and Wine Pairing

Pizza and Chianti

Italian pizza in Chianti, vineyard landscape in Italy

Italian pizza in Chianti, famous vineyard landscape in Italy.

From time to time we go out for a pizza, right? It was one of those evenings. This time we were going to one place of a well-known trattoria chain in Bucharest. We expected a good wine list to be displayed there. It seemed the right moment to get an impression of what pizza and wine is about.

When it comes to Italian food, we often think of wine in terms of matching the terroir, that is Italian food – Italian wine or local dishes of a particular wine region with wines produced in that region. My thoughts quickly converged to the iconic Chianti appellation, whose wines’ association with pizza is often praised.

Getting to the restaurant, I took a first glimpse of the wine list and found what I was looking for. They had a Chianti by the glass, of which neither I noted nor remember the name. However, 3 out of 5 stars would be a fair rating of that wine.

Of course, Chianti’s high acidity would help to cut through the fatty cheese topping, but what about Chianti’s high tannins? Would they be able to live along with the umami taste of cheese and tomato sauce? What if, even more worrying, one of us would get a hot sauce with their pizza?

The wine was not as acidic as expected for a Chianti. Its acidity was a bit above medium, but the tannins were there. My pizza was slightly spicy, so the reaction with the tannins was tolerable. The wine’s intense fruit also helped. In contrast, my friend got a pizza Mexicana, so the Chianti simply did not work with her dish.

To tell the truth, I think an appellation such as Valpolicella from Northeast Italy, again with high acidity but low tannins, would be a better match for pizza. And, if you are willing to leave Italy for once, a light, quaffable Merlot will hit the spot. Still, I will try a better quality Chianti with pizza next time, with higher acidity for example, and promise to come back with a new post.

Of course, there are specific pizza toppings with which you might prefer a white wine to a red, seafood pizza being an example.

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