T’was the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was cooking, not even a spouse. Why? Because America is preparing to unleash culinary Armageddon for the most wonderful day of the year – Thanksgiving!
So guess what America’s eating on the night before Thanksgiving? Pizza! Millions of them! They’re ordering in, popping frozen disks into hot ovens, dispatching friends and family members out into the cold to procure hot pies topped with bubbling cheese. It’s been reported that Thanksgiving Eve is one of the top five pizza-eating occasions of the year!
So you need some pizza wines, don’t you? How many times have I been at a wine tasting and said to someone – anyone near me, really – “Excuse me, do you happen to have a pizza in your pocket right now?” Because so many wines are awesome friends with pizza! Below are five suggestions to ponder for your pizza on Wednesday night – or any night!
Pizza with Red Sauce
1) Lambrusco! You might be saying, “Huh? Lambrusco? What the hell is that?” Well, my friends, it’s one of the best wines you’re not drinking. The other night I had a cheese-and-sausage pizza with Lambrusco and it was a mind-blowing pairing!
Lambrusco used to be known as a really sweet wine, but today, the wines are beautiful and fun – and dry, not sweet. They offer up intense red fruit notes, great acidity that cuts right through the richness of pizza and a final note of refreshing bitterness. Plus it’s frizzante – lightly sparkling – which is just fun in your mouth! The Cleto Chiarli Pruno Nero Lambrusco that I bought was less than $18 (at Eataly) and I’ll buy it again. Important note: Lambrusco is best served well-chilled.
2) Sangiovese This is the workhorse grape of Italy, and it is maybe the most obvious, most pizza-friendly wine of all. Did you know that Sangiovese is the key grape in seven delicious Italian red wines? Chianti, Morellino di Scansanco, Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, Sagrantino di Montefalco and Prugnolo are all made from the Sangiovese grape.
Chianti and Rosso di Montalcino are my two favorites with pizza, but I also just discovered a beautiful California Monte Volpe Sangiovese that is beautiful, too (and available at Whole Foods in Chicago for about $17). With the exception of Brunello (which is aged a long time), most Sangiovese wines are medium-bodied, with a lot of cherry notes, nice tannins and great, fresh acidity that stands up to the fat that makes pizza so delicious!
3) Nero d’ Avola This Sicilian grape is pizza-perfect. It’s heavier-bodied than Sangiovese, with deep blackberry notes and well-muscled tannins, so I recommend this with meat-topped pizzas and also deep-dish (yep, some people like it!)
4) Beaujolais – I just sampled a whole bunch of Villages- and Cru-level Beaujolais wines and they would be another great option for pizza – especially pizza with vegetarian toppings (my fave combo is mushroom, onion, green pepper). They are fresh, medium-bodied red wines that offer lively acidity to make your mouth water for another bite of pizza.
5) Chardonnay If you are having White Pizza, try Chardonnay. You want something with a little richness or heft to it, that will stand up to the cheese and whatever other toppings you might have.
With that, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving Pizza Eve!