Pizza and Wine Pairing for Australia’s favourite Pizzas
From depictions of pizza in your favourite comics or cartoon shows to pizza-inspired recipes appearing on your Facebook timeline, this cheesy flatbread is usually thought of as with pepperoni topping. If you think about it, there’s little wonder why – fine slices of paprika-seasoned, garlic powder-flavoured, moist meat on a bed of gooey Mozzarella cheese, subtly sweet & tangy tomato sauce, and crust. Can there be a better topping for beef and pork lovers?
In a previous blog post, we had mentioned pepperoni pizza to be a perfect Cabernet Merlot food match. This is for the same reason as pairing red meat with red wine, the rule of thumb for food and wine pairing. Bold reds cut into fatty meats, acting as palate cleansers. Here, the richness is even higher, owing to the Mozzarella.
You can also pair this classic with a Shiraz showing pepper aromas. These fragrances will echo the black pepper in the pepperoni.
A childhood favourite, Margherita is the classic pizza for vegetarians. Created in the colours of the Italian flag, green basil leaves are strewn over hot (Referring to the temperature, not the chilli here!), melting cheese (Some pizzerias may like to add a sprinkling of Parmesan too!), flavourful tomato sauce and baked crust. What’s not to like?
Considering that Mozzarella is very mild, it takes a backseat, while the tangy tomato sauce plays the significant role in the flavour profile of the dish. Pairing a low-acidity wine with this substantially acidic pizza would lead to the drink tasting flat. Also, since a Margherita isn’t as strongly-flavoured as pepperoni or peri peri chicken, pair it with a light and fruity red wine. A Pinot Noir beautifully meets this criterion, though we highly recommend a Barbera. Easily available in Australia, Barbera shows enough acidity to stand up to the tomato and cuts the richness of Mozzarella, for one. (You may have noticed a thin layer of oil over the surface. The drink counters this greasiness.) Secondly, it makes for a great match with Parmesan, if your pizza has any.
BBQ Chook & Bacon/ Rasher
A website claims that BBQ chicken has been voted Australia’s top traditional pizza. The average Aussie seems to love the combination of cooked chicken with really sweet, smoky, tomato-based barbecue sauce, red onion and bubbly cheese. Most famous restaurants in Australia make it even better by adding bacon! (By the way, if the menu of your preferred takeaway says ‘streaky bacon’, expect your pizza to be richer!) BBQ sauce replaces traditionally used tomato sauce here. With the lean, delicately tasting poultry, it is much lighter than a ‘BBQ meatlovers’, especially the bacon-free version.
When thinking of matching wine with pizza, think of the dominating ingredients, like barbecue sauce in this one. While the smokiness of the sauce goes well with the richness of oak-aged wines, not all of them will work with the high sugar content. Some drinks may taste slightly bitter with that sweetness. Look for a red that is fruit-forward to go with it. To us, that means Tempranillo! It also pairs nicely with both white and red meats, which means an enjoyable meal, regardless of whether your pizza contains bacon or not. Once again, Pinot Noir is a fine choice.
Aussie/ Egg & Bacon
It’s a shame that many pizzeria chains don’t make this traditional pizza anymore. Set & moist eggs, rich streaky bacon (which infuses the melting cheese with its meaty, smoky goodness as it bakes!), strong onion and garlic provide an experience full of flavour over a BBQ sauce-spread crust. Some pizza restaurants may like to substitute barbecue sauce with regular pizza sauce. Others use diced or shredded ham in addition to the bacon. Going by the egg and bacon toppings, coupled with the bread base, it makes perfect sense to have this Aussie Bacon & Egg pizza for breakfast.
Pairing this one with wine is tricky, mostly because eggs are known to be particularly not very wine-friendly. With their thick richness, yolks often block the palate and prevent the flavours in the drink from being tasted. Sparkling wines make for a perfect match with Aussie for multiple reasons. For one, a sip of these fizzy beauties ‘lifts’ the yolk, preventing it from coating your tastebuds, thanks to hundreds of dancing bubbles. The effervescence keeps the palate unblocked and the acidity of the drink cuts through the fattiness of the yolk. Two, they are ideal companions to bacon for this same reason. Not to miss, they are magical with the saltiness of bacon! Three, bubbly wines make for an excellent pairing with delicate cheeses such as Mozzarella.
This one is truly a polarising variety, owing to its sweet pineapple topping. No pizza topping has probably been a subject of debate as large and controversial as pineapple. That said, the fact that Hawaiian features in pizzeria menus (including billion-dollar restaurant chains!) across the island nation speaks of its undeniable popularity. Fans love the combination of pink, salty, moist ham with sweet, juicy pineapple, baked over a bed of creamy cheese, herbed tomato sauce and crust.
The most striking characteristic of Hawaiian pizza, in terms of taste, is obviously the sweetness of the pineapple. (This also depends on its form being used – fresh is usually more tart than the canned version.) Pineapple has very limited wine pairing options because of, A) high sugar content on one hand, and B) often excessive acidity on the other. It’s important to avoid a sickeningly sweet wine and pizza pairing by teaming it up a sweet wine. Similarly, a dry one may feel bitter because of the fruit. Go for an off-dry Riesling, our best pick! And don’t worry – A) Riesling has fine acidity which acts as an effective palate cleanser & prevents the sugariness from getting overwhelming, B) this drink is perfect partners with ham, and C) remember, the salty ham counters the sugar in the fruit anyway!