Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pizza Wine - An Effort To Not Revert To My College Days

Is there a topic outside of religion and politics that stirs the pot more violently than pizza? Maybe a few, but summon a round table of pizza aficionados, top with pies from three different pizzerias, add wine and behold the ensuing chaos. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on pizza, but I love a good slice and I have my favorites. Behind the Net in Darien is one of the best kept secrets in lower Fairfield County. It’s become a favorite lunch spot of mine and even the occasional “working late dinner”. I live further north so my hometown spot is Salerno’s on Barnum Ave in Stratford. Many don’t know that Salerno’s has one of the longest histories in the state. This time of year Carl Salerno makes an utterly toothsome pizza using locally grown fresh plum tomatoes. Those in the know begin calling the restaurant in early August to inquire on this incredibly fresh and flavorful pie.  Cases can be made for the perennial favorites: Pepe’s, Sally’s, Colony and the newly anointed Rico’s. These battles will rage on over pizza supremacy in CT, but I think we can all agree on one thing: the fact that CT has so many choices for great pizza makes it a great place to live.

So what do we drink with all these pizzas?
My friends @modernamy and @msquared720 (two voguish, smart and fetching young ladies you should be following on twitter) find Lambrusco to be a terrific compliment to pizza. I couldn’t agree more. But until recently, the CT market has been a Lambrusco wasteland.  The only Lambruscos visibly available were the likes of Riunite and, pardon my snobbery, I’m not a big fan of hangovers from grape juice. I hear @msquared720 has been hogging all the good stuff. Wink wink. But I finally found one I can work with.

Donelli Lambrusco Reggiano Amabile N/V
Violet fine foam with bright strawberry and blueberry aromatics. It’s a semi-sweet version of Lambrusco with plenty of acidity to accompany the residual sugar. Good depth on the finish, this is not your grandfather’s Lambrusco! With an ABV of only 9% it certainly has drink-ability but be careful, the residual sugar will come up and bite you in the morning.

But then there are the pizza nights where I feel like being a bit more serious with my wine. So now what? It all depends on what’s on it.

Pizza Margherita
Starting with the classic Margherita with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, the creamiest fresh mozzarella, and extra virgin olive oil, it’s easy to pair a red with bright acidity  However, don’t overlook a fruit driven white like Riesling or a fuller bodied Rosé. The below are all great choices.

Prunotto Barbera D’Asti Fiulot 2008
Coppo Barbera D’Asti Camp du Rouss 2007
Marziano Abbona Dolcetto Papa Celso Dogliani 2008
Torre dei Beati Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo 2010
Leitz Rudesheimer Klosterlay Riesling Kabinett 2010
Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Dautenpflanzer Riesling Spatlese 2010

Pizza Quattro Formaggi
Traditionally made with tomatoes, mozzarella, stracchino, fontina and gorgonzola although ricotta can be swapped for any of the cheeses except mozzarella. Call me crazy, but I invariably reach for the bubbles when enjoying this pizza. There’s something about drinking a grower Champagne with a hot slice of pie that is rather invigorating. Tannat is also a nice choice here. The soft, subtle fruit with plenty of backbone pairs well with the sharpness of the gorgonzola. Don’t overlook a great bottle of Barbera D’Alba, a terrific Cortese from Piedmont or a crisp, lively Rosé.

Pierre Peters Champagne Cuvee Reserve N/V
Pehu – Simonet Blanc de Blanc N/V
Vinedos de los Vientos Tannat 2007
Domaine Monte de Luz Tannat Reserva 2007
Gobelsburger Cistercien Rosé 2010
La Scolca Gavi Bianco Secco 2009

Pizza Capricciosa
Pizza Capricciosa is my pizza of choice. Topped with mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, and extra virgin olive oil. There’s no shortage of flavor on this pizza so I try to pair a wine that can bring the same to the table. Valolicella Ripasso works well here, but I do prefer a big Sangiovese blend. I’ve been known to enjoy a full bodied, smoky Chardonnay or a well balanced Vernaccia with this pie as well.

Santi Solane Valpolicella Ripasso 2008
Podere La Capella Chianti Classico 2007
Podere La Capella Rossini Atto Primo 2001
Red Tail Ridge Chardonnay 2008
Montenidoli “Carato” Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2006

I think I’ll revert to my college days, grab a pie and a box of Rocks.

In Good Taste,

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