What Wine Goes with Pizza: Red or White?

by Kaia

Pizza is a beloved dish enjoyed by people worldwide, and its popularity continues to grow. Whether you prefer a classic Margherita, a hearty meat lover’s, or a veggie-loaded pie, there’s no denying the universal appeal of pizza. But when it comes to pairing wine with this iconic food, the question often arises: what wine goes with pizza, red or white? In this article, we’ll explore the various factors that influence wine pairing with pizza and provide guidance on whether red or white wine is the better choice.


Understanding Pizza and Wine Pairing

Pairing wine with food is an art form, and the key to a successful pairing lies in complementing or contrasting the flavors, textures, and characteristics of both the dish and the wine. When it comes to pizza, the wide range of toppings and styles presents a unique challenge for wine pairing. From the acidity of tomato sauce to the richness of cheese and the savory notes of meats or vegetables, there’s a lot to consider.


Considering the Pizza Toppings

One of the first factors to consider when choosing a wine to accompany pizza is the toppings. If you’re enjoying a classic Margherita pizza with its simple combination of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil, you’ll want a wine that won’t overpower these delicate flavors. In this case, a light-bodied white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc can be a good choice. However, if your pizza is loaded with bold and spicy toppings like pepperoni, sausage, or jalapeños, a red wine with more body and intensity, such as Chianti or Zinfandel, may be a better match.


The Influence of Sauce

Another crucial element in pizza and wine pairing is the type of sauce used. Tomato-based sauces tend to be acidic, which can affect the perception of wine. If you’re enjoying a pizza with a tangy tomato sauce, a red wine with good acidity, like Sangiovese or Barbera, can help balance the flavors. On the other hand, white pizzas or those with creamy sauces, like Alfredo or white garlic sauce, may pair better with a crisp and refreshing white wine, such as Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, to cut through the richness.


Considering Cheese Varieties

Cheese plays a starring role in many pizzas, and its characteristics can greatly influence wine pairing. For pizzas topped with mild cheeses like mozzarella or fresh goat cheese, a light-bodied white wine is often a safe bet. However, if your pizza features richer and more pungent cheeses like Gorgonzola, blue cheese, or aged Parmesan, a full-bodied red wine with robust flavors, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, can stand up to the intensity of the cheese.

Regional Pairing Traditions

In addition to considering the specific characteristics of the pizza itself, it can be helpful to look at regional pairing traditions for inspiration. In Italy, the birthplace of pizza, local wines are often enjoyed alongside traditional pizza varieties. For example, in Naples, where pizza Margherita originated, it’s common to pair this iconic dish with a light and refreshing white wine like Falanghina or Greco di Tufo. In Tuscany, where hearty meat-based pizzas are popular, you’ll find red wines like Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino being served alongside.

Personal Preference and Experimentation

Ultimately, the best wine to pair with pizza is the one that you enjoy the most. While there are general guidelines to follow, personal preference plays a significant role in wine pairing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different wine styles and pizza toppings to find your perfect match. Whether you prefer a crisp white wine with a vegetable-loaded pizza or a bold red with a meat lover’s pie, the most important thing is to choose a wine that enhances your dining experience.

Balancing Flavors and Textures

When pairing wine with pizza, it’s essential to consider how the flavors and textures of both the food and the wine interact. A well-balanced pairing will enhance the overall dining experience, with neither the pizza nor the wine overpowering the other. For example, a pizza with spicy sausage and peppers may benefit from a fruity red wine with a hint of sweetness to counteract the heat, while a pizza topped with earthy mushrooms and herbs might be complemented by a light and herbaceous white wine.

The Role of Acidity

Acidity is another important factor to consider when pairing wine with pizza. The acidity in both the food and the wine can either complement or contrast with each other, depending on the overall flavor profile of the dish. For example, a pizza with a tangy tomato sauce may pair well with a wine that also has bright acidity, enhancing the freshness of the flavors. Conversely, a creamy white pizza may benefit from a wine with higher acidity to cut through the richness and cleanse the palate.

Experimenting with Wine Styles

When it comes to pairing wine with pizza, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Different wine styles can complement various pizza varieties, and the key is to experiment to find what works best for you. If you typically prefer red wine but find that it overwhelms your favorite vegetarian pizza, try opting for a lighter-bodied white wine instead. Similarly, if you’re a fan of white wine but crave a heartier meat-based pizza, don’t hesitate to reach for a robust red.


In conclusion, when it comes to pairing wine with pizza, the choice between red or white depends on a variety of factors, including the pizza toppings, sauce, cheese, and personal preference. Both red and white wines can be excellent companions to pizza, depending on the specific characteristics of the dish and the wine. By considering the flavors, textures, and regional traditions, as well as experimenting with different wine styles, you can discover delightful pairings that elevate your pizza dining experience. So, whether you’re enjoying a classic Margherita or a loaded meat lover’s pie, don’t hesitate to explore the diverse world of wine and pizza pairing. Cheers!



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