Monthly Archives: March 2009

Wine with Pizza but not Pizza Wine


Wine with Pizza but not Pizza Wine


            When it comes to beverages to accompany pizza, Neapolitans prefer drinks that sparkle.  Beer, soda, and acqua minerale gassata are the most popular choices, but for those who prefer wine, it is likely to be Gragnano, an inexpensive sparkling red made from piedirosso, sciascinoso, and a little aglianico.  The late Sheldon Wasserman, author of two seminal wine books, Sparkling Wine and Italy’s Noble Red Wines, loved champagne with his pizza Margarita.


Neapolitans eat pizza because it tastes good and is a complete and inexpensive meal.  Naturally, their beverages of choice are also inexpensive.  At Da Michele, one of the best pizzerias in Naples, only soda, beer and acqua minerale are served. They make only two types of pizza:  marinara and margarita.  The pizza is always perfect and the cost of a pizza and a drink is under ten dollars. Needless to say, the place is always packed with long lines out the door.


I used to think that as good as pizza can be, a nice inexpensive wine was all I needed to go with it.  When I say “Pizza” I mean Neapolitan style pizza. The only place to get true Neapolitan pizza is in Naples or in the Naples area. (   Pizza Any Way You Slice It, the Best is in Naples)  Wine lists in pizzerias in Naples are sometimes not very good but I can be perfectly happy with a Gragnano, Aglianico or Lacryma Christi.  But now, when given the opportunity, I enjoy pizza with more “important” wines.  The first time I had Barolo and pizza was in Piedmont.  Alfredo Corrado of the Vietti winery in Castiglione Falletto took us to a pizzeria owned by a Neapolitan. We had pizza bianco (fontina Val D’Aosta cheese) topped with funghi porcini with a magnum of 1961 Barolo, the first wine Alfredo had made at the winery. The combination was wonderful.  Since then, I have tried the best wines that Italy has to offer with pizza.


             When Michele and I were writing Pizza Any Way You Slice It, we spent a lot of time in Naples and ate pizza twice a day.  Last May we did a tour of Naples and the Amalfi Coast based on our book. Our group of pizza-lovers happily ate pizza at least once a day and we even made our own pizza at a farm just outside Naples. The pizza was so good that on the last day for lunch we went to Da Michele and each had a pizza, then went across the street to Pizzeria Trianon and had another!  (  “Great Places to Eat Pizza in Naples)


Trianon Pizzeria in Naples

Trianon Pizzeria in Naples

            l eat only certain types of pizza:   Margarita (the Queen of Pizza-there is no King) tomatoes, mozzarella, and a touch of fresh basil;  Marinara with  tomatoes, garlic and oregano; and Pizza Bianco with white truffles or funghi porcini.  Sometimes I will go over the top and have Arugula and Prosciutto on a Margarita. These are the best types of pizza to have with wine.  


Pizza Margarita at La Pizza Fresca

Pizza Margarita at La Pizza Fresca



            My favorite place to have Neapolitan style pizza in New York is La Pizza Fresca.   I go there often with many friends and not one of them has ever complained about drinking great wine with pizza.  My drink of choice with pizza is red wine. The wine has to be traditional. Modern and international style wines do not work. All that oak, vanilla, and jam does not go with pizza.  I have not had a traditional wine from Italy or France that did not work with the pizza. Some of my favorite wines with pizza include the 1996 Carmignano Riserva,  Villa di Capezzana; 1995 Taurasi “Radici” Mastroberardino;  1995 Chianti Rufina  Riserva Villa di Vertice; 1961 Barolo Giacomo Borgogno & Figl;, 1996 Barbaresco Riserva “Asili” Bruno Giacosa,  1990 Barbaresco Produttori  del Barbaresco;  1996 Ghemme “Collis Breclemce” Antichi Vigneti di Cantlupo;  and 1988 Amarone  Bertani.  Recently some friends ordered the pizza bianco and we drank it with the 2002 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from E. Valentini and it was a great combination.


Everyone has their favorite place for Neapolitan style pizza. Let me know what places you like best, which toppings, and which wines.


















Filed under Pizza and Wine

The League of Gentle Men

The League of Gentle Men

Once a month I a have dinner with a group of men. One of the members named us the League of Gentle Men and we all liked it. There are no pretenses or egos involved.  We come together to drink wine, talk, and have a good time. The dinners are usually at a restaurant but sometimes at a member’s house. The dinner revolves around the wine. There are no officers or rules, except that each member brings one bottle of wine, eight members equals eight bottles. This rule is always broken.


     We pick a theme — Barolo, for example, and each member will bring a bottle of old Barolo.  However, one member always brings a bottle of Krug to start us off. Another always brings a dessert wine from Austria. Someone else will just bring something because they feel like drinking it.

The Krug

The Krug





            At the last dinner, at a member’s home, the theme was Bordeaux.

 We, of course, started with the Krug, which was not as toasty as it has been in the past but it is still the champagne with the most body and character.

Our host felt that the first course, his specialty, did not go with red wine so he served an Ayala zero dosage, very dry and a great food wine.  The first three red wines were Cos D’ Estournel 1988, 1986 and 1982.  The 1988 was young, with red fruit, a hint of barnyard, bell pepper and spice.  The 1986 needed time to come around but when it did it was it was showing very well. The 1982 was corked and we tried the trick with the Saran Wrap, but were divided on how well it worked.


Ayala Zero Dosage

Ayala Zero Dosage

            Next there were three vintages of Haute Brione 88, 76 and 70, The 88 was tight and needed time.  At first, it had bell pepper, vegetable aromas but they went away and the wine had great fruit and body.  The 1976 and 1970 were not showing their age.  Then the Latour 79, my favorite Bordeaux, did not disappoint.

La Mission Haut Brion 1976 was the wine of the evening in my opinion; it had everything going for it.  Baron de Pichnon – Longueville 1982 was cooked.


The Bordeaux

The Bordeaux

1995 Nouvelle Trockenbeerenaualese # 7- (Austria) Alois Kracher-a great desert wine, was the perfect ending to a great wine dinner..















Filed under Bordeaux