Each month members of the Court of Master Sommeliers, an international association of wine experts, suggest pairings for popular menu items. Here they offer us both premium and bargain suggestions to enjoy with pizza. The sommeliers do not have a financial interest in any of their recommendations.
Catherine Fallis, MS, Planet Grape, San Francisco
Premium wine: 2010 Tikal Malbec Natural, Mendoza, Argentina
Grape variety: Organic Malbec
Taste profile: This spirited and lively red has a backbone of vibrant acidity to reign in its luscious raspberry, blackberry and pomegranate fruit. Light French oak manifests itself as mocha in the background.
Pairings: Think barbecue. The Argentineans have that down with their asadas. Any barbecued pizza topping would be a win-win. Try a barbecue -topped pizza with Gouda cheese and red onion.
Average wholesale case price: $144
Bargain wine: 2010 Santa Julia Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Grape variety: Malbec
Taste profile: This really well-priced, elegant and understated wine expresses the plum and dark berry fruit of the varietal, along with notes of bitter chocolate, cocoa powder and satsuma. It is medium-bodied with only a very slight touch of oak.
Pairings: Because of its laid-back fruit, low tannins and high acidity, this is perfect for pizzas with salty toppings. Try it with a rich and hearty Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It stands up to the richness and offers a palate-cleansing freshness.
Average wholesale case price: $96
Jonathan Pullis, MS, The Little Nell, Aspen, Colo.
Premium wine: 2009 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône, France.
Grape variety: Syrah
Taste profile: Dried raspberry and strawberries, cherries cooked in a cast-iron pan with hints of red flowers, smoke and meat.
Pairings: Elk, venison or boar. Try it with a smoked boar pizza with red onion and mozzarella and manchego cheeses.
Average wholesale case price: $360
Bargain wine: 2009 Caldora Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo, Italy
Grape variety: Montepulciano
Taste profile: A lovely blend of raspberry, cherry and plum fruit with hints of sweet vanilla. The aroma has wild red floral notes and hints of anise. It’s medium- to full-bodied, well balanced and easy drinking.
Pairings: This wine complements Mediterranean dishes, such as pizza, grilled meats and antipasti.
Average wholesale case price: $90
Nunzio Alioto, MS, partner, Alioto’s Restaurant, San Francisco
Premium wine: 2009 Malbec, Colome, Argentina
Grape varieties: 85 percent Malbec, 8 percent Tannat, 3 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 2 percent Syrah, 2 percent Petit Verdot
Taste profile: A provocative, light, mountain-grown Argentinean thoroughbred with deep black berries and hints of spice
Pairings: A meat lover’s deep dish pizza with iron-laden game for the wine’s dark berry fruit, and ground beef, fennel sausage or pepperoni to be offset by the wine’s light smoke, full body and ample tannins.
Average wholesale case price: $128
Bargain wine: 2009 Tres Ojos, “Old Vine Garnacha,” San Gregorio, Catalonia, Spain
Grape variety: Grenache
Taste profile: An absolutely delicious, exuberantly fruity, old Spanish country-style red
Pairings: A thick-crust pizza topped with guanciale and wild mushroom, or a classic margherita pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and basil
Average wholesale case price: $84
Learn more: Meet the Master Sommeliers. Check out bios and photos.