A Pizza Pairing Party!

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Story by Dave Eckert

It was an amazing late afternoon and early evening – a recent day when 14 or so of my closest foodie friends gathered at the Pizzeria Locale at Oak Park Mall for a pizza, wine, and beer pairing party!

Admission to the fete was a bottle of wine per person. Michael Crane of Raytown’s Crane Brewing supplied some beer, and we purchased a bottle each of the Bianco, Rosado, and Rosso that Locale has on tap.

There were no ground rules as to which wines attendees would bring, just something they thought would pair well with pizza. The goal was simple – see which wine or beer went best with which pizza, noting if there was a consensus or if any preconceived notions were either confirmed or dispelled.

We started with Locale’s four classic white pizzas, which were sampled with the whites, rosés, and a lip-smacking Capasaldo Prosecco. We all learned quite a bit during this portion of the tasting, including the following:

  • Pizzeria Locale’s white pizzas are delicious and underrated.
  • Prosecco is terrific with a white pizza, especially one that sports some heat like the Spicy Chicken and the Sausage and Broccolini!
  • A nice Pinot Grigio is lovely with a “softer” white pizza like the Mais. In fact, the weight of the Maso Canali and the weight of the Mais matched perfectly.  Soave is also a solid pick for white pizza. I would highly recommend the Pieropan Soave, which stood out with the Four Cheese and Mushroom pizza.
  • Crane’s Omar Porter was absolutely stunning with the Four Cheese and Mushroom pizza as it perfectly complemented the earthiness of the mushrooms and the funkiness of the gorgonzola! And, Crane’s Farmhouse IPA was surprisingly nimble with both the white and red pizzas.
  • Rose wines might just be the most flexible of all when it comes to pizza pairing. The Bieler Pere et Fils Rosé Sabine from Coteaux d’Aix en Provence (a mouthful, huh?), was like a gold medal figure skater, gracefully gliding from pizza to pizza scoring high marks from the foodie judges. And, Locale’s own Rosado, available by the glass and bottle, offered real value and provided good matches for several of the white and red pizzas. There were twice as many red pizzas to try and easily twice as many wines to taste with them. I won’t bore you with every pizza variety or a list of the wines we quaffed alongside, but I will pass along some highlights and some of the favorite pairings from the group.
  • Keith Paden, the Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri State Manager for Kobrand Wines and Spirits, thought the Italian red wines and the Beaujolais Villages from France worked best with the red pizzas.
  • Craig Adcock of Jude’s Rum Cake and Table Ocho fame, loved the Valpolicella, calling it “The perfect pairing for the saltiness of the crisp crust on the pepperoni pizza.”
  • Super Butcher and football star Chad Tillman said he “tried not to go with the classic pairing of the Renzo Masi Chianti with the Pepperoni Pizza,” but said “The pairing was hard to beat.” That was a group consensus.
  • My favorite red pizza pairing was also a classic of sorts – the Tenuta Arcenno Chianti Classico Riserva with Locale’s Supreme Pizza. A complicated pizza needs a complicated wine (sometimes), and this pairing was perfect.
  • Pizzeria Locale’s own Rosado, a straightforward red wine, was a pleasant match with a number of the red pizzas.

In the end, I don’t think there were any head-turning conclusions reached when it comes to pairing wine and beer with pizza. Old World wines, especially Italian reds, are terrific with red sauce-based pizzas. Rosés, especially European versions, are great across the board. Sparklers are a good choice for white pizzas. And, a well-made, like Crane’s IPA, and Porter, are good choices as wine alternatives.

I think Craig Adcock summed up the experience best when he wrote me the next day. “Just another tough day at work with good friends.” Right you are, Craig. Right you are.

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