"Pizza wine" is a moniker that once conjured up images of red-checked tablecloths and straw-basket bottles. Nowadays, lots of wines claim to go with pizza, but few have what it takes to work.
Pizza is usually about tomato and cheese, and to sing with both, a wine needs a fresh, snappy acidity to go toe to toe with a high-acid food like tomato and to clean up the fatty textures of mozzarella. Check out these three charmers that have what it takes to pair with pies.
For those nights you call a local chain for delivery, you'll want something that covers the basics without costing more than the pizza. Try a bottle of Entrada Malbec 2010 ($8, The Country Vintner) with its inviting cherry and black-plum flavors, bright, juicy acidity, and enough structure to handle sausage. Argentina produces a boatload of cheap Malbec—not all of it very good—but Entrada delivers a healthy dose of balanced flavors at a comforting price.
If you're treating yourself to a gourmet pizza experience that emphasizes fresh ingredients and traditional preparation, then spring for Podere il Palazzino "Rosso del Palazzino" 2009 ($15, Bacchus Importers Ltd.). Palazzino is highly regarded for its stunning Chianti Classico offerings. With its blend of Sangiovese from the winery's Chianti vineyards along with a little Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Colorino, this wine announces its Tuscan heritage with bright cherry, snappy red currant, subtle earthiness, and a beguiling blend of savory herbs and minerals. Bonus: Its vineyards are on track to be certified organic by next year.
Not every pizza is about tomato, so what do you serve with pesto or white pies? Valdinera Roero Arneis 2010 ($20, Potomac Selections) is up to the task. Italy makes a dizzying range of crisp, crackling whites that seem to flow effortlessly from seafood to cheese to pasta and back again. This one is a great example. It has subtle peach notes but also quenching lemon zest and even a hint of almond. It's a classy white wine that deserves great ingredients, so save it for your homemade pizzas.