How To Pair Wine With Pizza Like An Expert

Pizza is the ultimate crowd-pleaser and a staple of traditional Italian cuisine. However, when you pair wine with this pizza, you don't need to stick to Mediterranean bottles. Wine enthusiasts can find delicious vintages grown all over the world, from the fruit-laden cabernets of the Napa Valley to the zesty sauvignon blancs of New Zealand and Australia that work well with pizza. But, if you don't know a rosé from a Rioja, don't stress – wine pairing has a few simple rules that anyone can follow to find the perfect match for their pizza.


When experts talk about wine pairing, they usually mean finding a vintage that either complements or enhances the flavors and textures in food. The best way to judge which flavor profile will complement your pizza is to think about general aspects of the wine, like the body or mouthfeel, the acidity, the alcohol content, and the tannin level. All of these properties affect the wine's flavor and impact which pizza toppings are best suited to the bottle. So, if you want to serve pizza like a pro and impress your friends, this wine pairing guide is for you. 

Pair a sweet riesling with salty toppings

Salty and sweet is a classic combo. Think about popular salty-sweet pairings, like a PB&J or salted caramel ice cream. Many pizza toppings have a strong salty flavor, with items like cured meats, cheeses, and olives being among the saltiest. Rather than choosing a wine that enhances the salt factor, you'll want to pick a pairing that balances the salt with something fresh and slightly sweet. This creates an irresistible flavor profile that will have you swooning with every bite.


If you're looking for a perfect wine to pair with a salty pizza, a German riesling is an excellent choice as it's a great balancing wine, with a harmonious blend of acidity and sweetness. It is generally grown in cooler climates and often has soft notes of peach, honeysuckle, and tropical fruit. Pizzas often combine salty and sweet flavors as the high-saline toppings blend with sweeter elements, like tomato sauce. This balancing act is mirrored in riesling's tart, sweet profile making it an ideal complementary wine for a salt-heavy pizza. Meanwhile, riesling's strong mineral notes help cut savory flavors and provide variety on your palette.   

Fruity reds enhance rich flavors

Even if you only know the basics about matching food and wine, you've probably heard that red wine goes with red meat. Experts say this because rich flavors are enhanced by wines that are high in tannins, which most full-bodied reds are. The tannins in fruity reds, like shiraz and malbec, add a dry, punchy mouthfeel which can act as a palette cleanser between bites of rich food. Perfect if you love a meat feast or a creamy four-cheese pizza.


Young red wines, like a Beaujolais Nouveau or a sangiovese, can also beef up rich flavors and act as a welcome breather during heavier meals. Meanwhile, French Bordeaux wines, which often blend vintages like cabernet sauvignon, cabernet Franc, and merlot, are well-suited to carb-based dishes and have a full-bodied yet delicate flavor profile. You should also look out for red wines that have been aged in oak barrels as this boosts tannin production while reducing the gritty mouth-feel of tannin-heavy wine. These types of wines work well with deep-dish, crusty pizzas for a satisvfyingly starchy meal.

Pair a New Zealand sauvignon blanc with pizza Napoli

Pizza Napoli is the perfect order if you love fresh, salty flavors and high-protein toppings. The traditional Napoli recipe is usually a classic Margherita that's topped with anchovies, capers, and fresh basil. The oily flavor of the fish soaks into the creamy mozzarella to create an unbeatable combination for seafood lovers. However, all that oiliness can start to feel greasy on the palette. This is also true if you've added olive oil to your pizza or if you've included a fatty side, like french fries or onion rings. To cut oily foods, wine experts often recommend a high-acidity white, such as a sauvignon blanc.


When it comes to bang for your buck, New Zealand sauvignon blancs offer moreishly zingy flavors and are often in the low-mid-end price range. Grown in New Zealand's coastal climate, these sauvignon blancs have sharp grapefruit and green bell pepper notes that perfectly complement oily foods.

Pair pinot noir with a mushroom pizza

Pinot noir is a light-bodied red wine often praised for its earthy notes and complex flavors. This makes pinot noir an ideal wine to match with delicate foods that could easily be overpowered by a bigger, bolder red. If you love a mild ham and portobello pizza or a porcini-loaded pie, Pinot Noir is an excellent choice.


Mushrooms are a divisive pizza topping, but many of them actually have a fairly neutral flavor and can get lost when combined with stronger tastes. But, the light body of Pinot Noir supports rather than overwhelms the delicate fungus flavor. And, tannin levels are generally quite low in pinot noir, leading to smooth, drinkable vintages that pair easily with carby, comfort food.

Matching pinot noir with mushroom pizza also works because it already has hints of mushroom in its flavor profile. Most wine buffs agree that pairing food with a wine that complements its flavor profile is key to enjoying a harmonious meal. If you want to really make the most of your mushroom and pinot noir pairing, sprinkle some thyme on your pizza to bring out the wine's earthy and herbaceous notes.


Pair a refreshing rosé with spicy pizza

If you love to spice up your pizza with fiery toppings, like jalapenos, chilies, or peppery salami, a sweet, refreshing rosé can provide the perfect match. Rosé is an excellent accompaniment to hot food as it is usually quite low in alcohol (typically between 11 to 13 % ABV). And, as alcohol generally enhances heat, sipping a rosé means the spiciness in your pizza won't be as amplified as say with cabernet sauvignon. In addition, sweetness in rosés like white zinfandel can also help balance out spicy flavors, while a dry, acidic Provence rosé can add a juicy kick between bites and help cleanse your palate.


Sparkling rosé is also a great choice when you want to turn up the heat on your pizza. The carbonation feels light and refreshing — it's why Indian food is commonly enjoyed with beer – and the tingly bubbles add varied sensations to your tongue. This can act as a counterpoint to strong heat.

Other light sparkling wines, such as Cava and crémant, will also complement spice-heavy pizzas. Cremant's creamy, light flavors mix well with salt and fat, while Cava's fresh citrus notes and medium-sweetness will balance smoky, chilli-based heat from jalapenos or spicy red peppers.

Silky chardonnay balances creamy white pizza

White pizza or Pizza Bianca is a popular dish in Rome, Italy, and often refers to a crispy bread base topped with olive oil, cheese, or deli meat. If you're ordering white pizza elsewhere in the world, you will generally get a cheese pizza without marinara sauce or, sometimes, with a bechamel flour, butter, and milk sauce instead. Chardonnay is a medium-full-bodied white wine and is perfect to pair with rich, luxuriant flavors like those found in Pizza Bianca (outside of Rome).


To complement a creamy bechamel pizza, you'll want to go for a chardonnay that's been aged in oak. This process brings out the naturally silky richness in the wine and highlights alternate flavors, like vanilla, coconut, and butter. These notes will balance nicely with a dairy-heavy dish.

Oaking also helps develop the light, baking spice hints in chardonnay, which can add sweetness and variety to a more neutral-tasting dish. In general, it's a good idea to opt for chardonnays produced in warmer climates, like Spain or California, if you're eating white pizza. This is because the acidity in younger, cool-climate chardonnays may clash with richer flavors.

Pair bubbly Prosecco with Hawaiian pizza

Pineapple on pizza can be a little controversial and wine with a Hawaiian pizza may not seem like the most intuitive pairing. However, as with most things wine-related, it all comes down to finding the right match. A glass of crisp, bubbly Prosecco is a great choice if you like your pizza fruity and tropical. One reason for this is that Prosecco does a good job balancing salty and sweet flavors – think of the bubbly Italian drink with classic appetizers like parma ham and melon or figs and bacon.


Briny ham and sweet pineapple are the main flavors in a Hawaiian pizza and need a vintage to match and the light, sparkly mouth-feel of Prosecco is refreshing after salt. Meanwhile, the syrupy honeysuckle and pearnotes in Prosecco reflect back the tangy pineapple and help bring out fruit flavors.

Prosecco is also usually quite sweet and can have a creamy amount of foam, which will tone down the acidity in the pineapple and tomato sauce. Prosecco is also highly drinkable and usually has a low alcohol content which makes it perfect to drink at a low-key movie night with friends or in a more formal setting.

Pair bold malbec with BBQ chicken pizza

Even if it's topped with more neutral-tasting meat, such as chicken, BBQ pizza needs a bold wine that will complement strong, smoky flavors. Malbec's fruity, full-bodied profile is just the thing to stand up to a potentially overpowering BBQ sauce. The dryness and tannins in malbec will also suit the meaty texture of the chicken.


However, despite its round body and dark, plummy color, malbec has a moderate level of tannins compared with other big hitter reds, like shiraz or a syrah. This makes malbec smooth on the tongue and gives it a juicy sweetness that will work well with the caramelized notes in BBQ sauce. Malbec also has dominant black fruit and red berry flavors, which gives it a zing to the palate. This will complement the tangy flavors in the BBQ sauce, while the leathery notes in some Malbec vintages can enhance the smoky flavors in grilled chicken or BBQ pork.

Pinot grigio is perfect for a Margherita pizza

Sometimes there's nothing better than keeping pizza night simple and low-maintenance. And, a Margherita/pinot grigio combo will help you do just that. The light, crisp pinot perfectly offsets the juicy tomato sauce and the mild creamy cheese. Pinot grigio is a dry-medium wine that is smooth, drinkable, and a popular favorite among wine buffs and casual drinkers alike. It's best if you like light-bodied vintages with a touch of zest.


One of the main reasons to pair pinot grigio with a Margherita is that pinot particularly complements mozzarella – the centerpiece cheese for most classic margs. Pinot grigio does not have an overpoweringly complex flavor, making it a great wine for beginners or for when you want to stay in your comfort zone. Pizza is, after all, the ideal comfort food.

That said, you'll certainly notice sharp, citrus notes when you choose an Italian pinot grigio. This is ideal for a salty Margherita as a shot of acid can help tone down the saltiness. For a sweeter, more honey-fragranced pinot, an Australian vintage offers hints of peach and other soft stone fruits. This is perfect if you want a wine that's really easy to drink and that will bring out the tomato sauce on your pizza while still balancing the cheese's milky flavors.


Spanish Rioja brings out veggie pizza flavors

Somewhat bucking traditional advice that suggests red wine should be paired primarily with red meat, a warm, Spanish Rioja can really bring out the earthy flavors in veggie pizza toppings. This is because the leathery hints in some Riojas pair well with Mediterranean flavors, like smoky, sweet flavors present in bell peppers and eggplant, which commonly find their way onto vegetarian pizzas. Lighter Riojas produced in the northwest Rioja region, such as Rioja Alta vintages, also pair well with tomatoes. The tart, juicy flavor in the wine supports similar notes in the fruit, making them a congruent match.


Rioja also sits well with onions, which is perfect if you love some chunky-cut red onions or some strong-flavored shallots or scallions on your veggie pizza. But, if you're enjoying Rioja with a vegetarian meal, it is a good idea to go for a younger vintage as opposed to an oak-cask-aged Reserva.

Aging tends to enhance tannins in red wine and bring out the spicy flavors that can overwhelm lighter dishes. With a younger, brighter Rioja, such as a crianza, you'll get a more fruit-forward experience that will complement the light sweet flavors of a veggie mix.

Gavi livens up spinach and ricotta pizza

Spinach and ricotta make brilliant bedfellows and are particularly delicious on a thin, crusty pizza base. The milky ricotta cheese supports the slightly bitter and minerally spinach, while the salty base and tangy tomato sauce hold it all together to create the perfect flavor foursome.


Gavi wins in two senses when it comes to a spinach and ricotta pairing. This fresh Italian white has sharp, citrus notes to help cut rich, briny flavors. Meanwhile, the mineral bite common in Gavi complements the iron content in spinach. This slightly bitter tang is one of the defining features of Gavi and is often described as tasting like flint or like oyster shell. It's exactly the sort of wine you think of when you want to drink something crystal clear and exquisitely fresh on the palate.

Gavi also tends to pair well with starches, like pasta and rice, making it a great choice for pizza night. The Gavi's lightness and freshness are a pleasant contrast to the pizza's carby base. If you really want to glow up your Gavi pizza pairing, toss a handful of fresh basil leaves onto your pizza or drizzle on some pesto sauce. Gavi naturally pairs well with leafy greens and garden herbs, giving you plenty of choice when it comes to seasonings.