Pairing Wine and Beer with Pizza

Beer Taps

Pizza is delicious, but it always happens: the more slices you eat, the thirstier you get! With all that bread, it sure does balance things out to have a tasty beverage to gulp down with each slice. But what pairs best with pizza? If you ask me, pizza and beer go hand in hand; nearly every proper pizza parlor has at least one brew on tap. These days, wine has also joined the (pizza) party; while not quite as popular in pairing with pizza as beer, wine still makes a great beverage to enjoy with pizza. So without further ado, here are our tips for pairing wine and beer with pizza!

Beer Bottles

Taps, Suds, and Plenty of Ale

While you really can’t lose when you crack open any type of beer with your next slice, there are certainly beers that go better (or worse) with different pizza combinations. Here are some general guidelines in selecting a beer based on what type of pizza you’d like to eat.

  • Take note of what flavors you’ve got going on with your pizza. Does it have a light flavor profile or a heavy one? Are you using a lot of meat or are you making a vegetarian pizza? Try to pick a brew that compliments the style of pizza you plan on making.
  • Vegetarian pizzas: Not too many rich, heavy flavors here. Think of a beer lighter in flavor for this pizza category. You’ll want your beer to not overpower the fresh, light taste of the vegetables you’ve selected. Try a Pilsner, lager, or wheat beer.
  • ”Meat Lover” pies: These pizzas have heavy flavors and often a little greasy. Pair them with something that can really hold up to these flavors like an IPA, stout, or Belgian-style ale.
  • Pilsner and lager-style beers can be good “all around” choices in case your pizza doesn’t fit neatly into any one category. They also work well with two ingredients that are almost always on a pizza: tomato sauce and cheese.

Wine Bottles

Wine & Cheese (plus sauce, dough, and toppings please)

If beer isn’t your thing, no worries – let’s talk about how to find a good wine to go with your pizza. With a few exceptions, you’ll find it’s easier to pair red wines with a pizza over whites. Why? Well, to quote an expert:
Pizza, regardless of topping, is always fairly earthy and substantial fare that begs red over white.
~Mary Gorman-McAdams, Master of Wine, "The Six Best Wines to Pair with Pizza" via The Kitchn

Translation? Pizza usually has a lot of earthy flavors and is usually a very filling food – which requires a beverage that’ll stand up to those qualities. Sommeliers, wine enthusiasts, and vintners all agree that wine should be low in tannin, and medium-to-high in acidity to pair well with pizza (due to the flavor characteristics of cheese and tomatoes). One type of wine that fits this profile well is Zinfandel, named after the grape that is used to produce it. After quick phone call to our neighborhood wine expert, and we can recommended four different varieties of Zinfandel wines perfect for your next pizza night: Predator, Brazin, Zynthesis, and Klinker Brick.

Pro Tips

Since personal taste is, well, personal, it might take some trial and error to find what you like - even if you make beverage choices based on expert advice. While it’s a great idea to use this advice as a starting point, here are a few more ideas we thought were worth trying:

  • If any pizza parlors in your area offer beer “flights” (a sampler-sized glass of three or four ales) make it a point to stop in and try your favorite pizza with a flight. This way, you’ll get to sample a few varieties and see what tastes best to you.
  • Some supermarkets (and liquor stores) offer a mix-n-match 6 pack option now. Locate a local market that offers this service and get an assortment of six brews you think you’d like. Pair them with different pies and see what tickles your fancy.
  • Some liquor stores still sell singles (what a concept, right?). Check to see if your local store does and pick up a single bottle of a few different types of beer you think would go well with your usual pizza stylings.
  • Even if serving your favorite beer and favorite pizza together is a violation of pairing “rules,” don’t be afraid to try it! After all, you may just find your favorites trump the suggestions of others.

Whether it’s wine or beer, these tips should set you up to pick a winning beverage the next time you eat pizza.

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