Is there a more perfect pairing than Red Wine and Pizza? When you have a great pie and match it with a wine that works well alongside it, the possibilities are, well, simply delicious. Don’t over-think it or overwhelm the Pizza with a wine above its weight class. Assuming we’re talking about a classic pie topped in red sauce, what you want is a selection with great acid and red fruit. Sometimes the obvious choice is in fact the best choice. That’s the case here where you want an Italian red to pair with traditional pie. Italy has more indigenous grape varieties than any other country and a number of them would pair wonderfully with great Pizza. My choice is a Sicilian red from Cusumano.
Cusumano 2015 Nero d’avola Terre Siciliane IGT ($11)
This widely available Red Wine from Cusumano is made from Nero d’avola the signature red grape of Sicily. Cusumano farms more than 1,000 acres of vines and their wines are all produced from Estate fruit. Red plum, black pepper and hints of violets dot the nose. The palate is stuffed with red berry fruit flavors that are interspersed with black fruit characteristics. Plums, raspberry and cherry flavors are all in evidence. Peppercorn, vanilla and a bit of earth are all present on the solid finish. Firm acid keeps everything in check here.
I most often make my own pie at home from scratch, but I paired this with a local favorite. The Palermo from La Sicilia in Belleville, NJ is a distinct pie. Its square crust is on the thinner side, crunchy and perfectly cooked. There’s a very thin layer of cheese and the sauce sits above it. The sauce is rich with herbs and spices, bringing everything together. The Palermo and this Nero d’avola from Cusumano are a fantastic match. That said this modest, but flavorful Nero d’avola will pair well with just about anything that involves red sauce.