October is National Pizza Month, and pizza and a glass of wine make for a natural pairing. Yet many food and wine matchmakers have never tried this tasty combination: pizza and Sauvignon Blanc.
Pairing pizza and Sauvignon Blanc makes perfect, palate-pleasing sense. While toppings can range from almost nothing to almost everything, tomato sauce and cheese lie at the heart of pizza’s scrumptious flavors, and Sauvignon Blanc complements both. Sauvignon Blanc’s forward fruit/herb character enhances the herb-infused flavors of tomato sauce, while its crisp acidity serves as a foil to the richness of the cheese.
When it comes to pairing pizza with Sauvignon Blanc, the style of the wine is key. A Sauvignon Blanc in which the fruit and herbal elements are in balance works best. An intensely herbal Sauvignon Blanc paired with pizza pushes herb flavors to unpleasant heights, while an intensely fruity Sauvignon Blanc can taste bland.
While pizzas with most toppings pair well with Sauvignon Blanc, a few are truly inspired. A simple tomato, basil and cheese Margherita pizza is heavenly with Sauvignon Blanc, as is a pineapple and ham-topped Hawaiian pizza. A veggie pizza likewise is spectacular and one topped with goat cheese is an experience to savor.
There also are a few pizzas for which Sauvignon Blanc simply isn’t a good match. A pizza with a spicy topping like sausage, pepperoni or barbecued chicken can overwhelm Sauvignon Blanc, while one that features a sweet tomato sauce – used by some big pizza chains – makes Sauvignon Blanc taste sour. In both these cases, a fruity, spicy red like the Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel should be served instead. Of course, red wine fans will want to drink the Kenwood Zinfandel – a very versatile red – with every kind of pizza and that is perfectly okay; the only rule in food and wine pairing that shouldn’t be broken is to choose a wine you will enjoy.
So grab a slice, pour the wine and raise a glass to National Pizza Month. The celebration may well last all year!