The All-Purpose Guide To Pairing Pizza & Adult Beverages

As the daughter of two restaurateurs, I'm a stickler for fresh ingredients. Watching my parents cook, whether it was at their Italian restaurant or at home, always involved a ton of thoughtful prep work and careful planning. As I got older, I started tapping their knowledge of all things fresh and flavorful to not only make delicious food, but also find the right adult beverage to match. Since I mainly subsist on pizza, I'm always wondering what to drink with pizza.

When you think of the drink pairings that typically accompany pizza, your mind probably goes straight to beer. But with so many different types of brews to choose from (IPAs, wheat beers, lagers — the list goes on) it's hard to know which one will best complement the pizza you're planning on devouring. Not to mention, though this is a great pairing, you might be missing out on all of the craft cocktail options and wines that can help elevate the flavors of whatever pizza you're eating tonight. 

To help you choose the best drink to go with your pie, we teamed up with California Pizza Kitchen Frozen Pizzas to create a handy guide on pizza pairings. Here are the ideal brews, cocktails, and wines to go with all of your favorite slices. Be sure to pace yourself — the more you drink, the less room you have to eat all the pizza your heart desires!

1. Pair Pepperoni Pizza With A Sparkling Red

"Pepperoni pizza" is as fun to say as it is to eat. So you'll want to drink it with something that not only stands up to all the spicy flavors, but is also fun to sip on — like something bubbly! 

Pair Like A Pro: "From a flavor and bubbles perspective, a sparkling shiraz or Lambrusco have enough oomph to hold up to that intense pepperoni flavor," says Brooklyn winemaker Conor McCormack, "and the bubbles cut through the richness of the cheese."  

2. Sip A Pineapple Cocktail With Pulled Pork Pizza

At a Hawaiian luau, pulled pork is traditionally served with pineapple. So what better way to complement your pulled pork pizza than with a tropical-inspired take on the traditional Moscow Mule? 

Pair Like A Pro: "To make a 'pineapple Moscow Mule,' use homemade pineapple infused vodka topped with ginger beer, a squeeze of fresh lime, and a sprig of fresh mint," cocktail expert Emily Arden Wells suggests. "The tropical sweetness of the ginger and pineapple pairs well with savory and sweet pulled pork."

3. Wash BBQ Chicken Down With A Stout

If BBQ chicken is your pizza of choice, you'll want to select a drink that'll not only compliment the flavors in your pie, but also won't make you feel too full (because you've got lots of pizza to eat). 

Pair Like A Pro: Morgan Snyder, a certified cicerone and assistant brewer at The Bronx Brewery says: "An Irish stout like Guinness has that dark roasted characteristic that's going to complement the chicken, and the sweetness from the BBQ sauce that works well with the stout. Plus, it's an easy drinking beer that’s going to allow you to eat the whole slice of pizza (or three) without filling up."

4. Try A Glass Of Red With Your Margherita Pie 

They say that what grows together, goes together. So when it comes to which glass of vino would pair best with your margherita pizza, sommelier Shannon Westfall says to go with a wine from the same region as the tomatoes commonly found on this pie.

Pair Like A Pro: "Italy is home to some of the best examples of the key ingredients that make a good pizza," says Westfall, "like San Marzano tomatoes. So it makes sense that the flagship grape of Italy, sangiovese, would pair well with a classic Margherita pizza. Reminiscent of red currant, cherry, dried herbs, tobacco, and even roasted tomato, it goes really well with tomato-based dishes." Sangiovese grapes are used in Chianti or Brunello wine, so either one makes a great selection to go with this pie!

5. Stir Up A Whiskey Cocktail For Spinach And Artichoke Pizza

There are so many incredible flavors working together on a spinach and artichoke pie. You've got the pleasant bitterness of artichokes, balanced out perfectly with creamy garlic and cheese toppings. So when preparing a cocktail customized especially for this pie, Wells recommends striking that same balance in your drink. 

Pair Like A Pro: "I'm a fan of building flavors when doing pairings, so I would go with a Cynar Manhattan to double down on those bitter artichoke flavors, with a kick of spicy sweetness from the whiskey," she says. "Use spicy rye whiskey, Cynar, and sweet vermouth, garnished with a sweet cherry — a sweet treat for eating your vegetables!"

6. Pair White Pizza With A Soft, Fruity Ale

Savoring a slice of creamy white pizza pie calls for a drink that's light and refreshing to wash it down. 

Pair Like A Pro: For a beer pairing that'll do the trick, Snyder recommends a Belgian golden ale as the ideal beverage counterpart. "It's got a soft fruit quality, a little bit of spice, and it's nice and effervescent to compliment the rich texture of ricotta," he explains. "For a beer to satisfy that spice characteristic, try a Duvel."

7. Choose A Cool-Climate Wine For Your Spicy Meat Lover's Pie 

If meat lover's pizza is your go-to pie, you're all about strong, bold, spicy flavors. So you'll need a wine with qualities that are just as prominent to match. 

Pair Like A Pro: "The rich flavors of meat lover's pizza pair well with a cool-climate wine," explains Westfall. "Cool climate wines like syrah are known for their herbal tastes and peppery aromas, and make the perfect pairing for the smoked meats typically found on a meat lover's pizza."

8. Sip Refreshing Pilsner With Your Four Cheese Pizza

What's better than a classic slice of cheese pizza? A pie covered with four different delicious types of cheese, of course. When you're chowing down on a slice of pizza that's packed with cheesy goodness, you'll need a beer that preps your palate. 

Pair Like A Pro: "Go with something super light like a German pilsner," says Snyder. "You have all these varying flavors that are rich and dense, so you want to contrast that with something lighter. A pilsner like Radeberger or Kölsch both have herbal characteristics that add a little bit of extra flavor. They're super light and refreshing, with bready qualities that complement the crust."

This post is sponsored by California Pizza Kitchen Frozen Pizzas.

Images: Allison Gore

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