Who doesn’t love pizza night? Whether you’ve purchased one that’s frozen, a few are being delivered from your favorite pizza joint, or you’re channeling Nonno by crafting your own, everyone craves a piping hot pizza pie oozing with gooey cheese, sauce, and toppings. Sometimes, though, pizza night can be a little, well, ho-hum.

Do you always have the same style of that iconic pie? Is the vegetarian pizza your usual choice? Is your husband never swaying from The Meat Lover’s Special?  If you’re nodding your head “yes” (and I understand), there is a solution. Simply find a bottle of wine that is unique, with a “wow” factor totally unlike your usual “just fine” choice.  It’s time to discover a new favorite pairing.

Mario Batali's Sicilian Pizza
Fortunately, I’ve tasted some incredible wines lately, all sent as samples, that will up your pizza night game in a big way.  A few may be a tad above your most comfortable price point, but each is so delicious and memorable that you’ll sit back and say “grazie” after each sip – don’t let the price intimidate you. Believe me, pizza night will never be the same.  You’re welcome.

Smith-Madrone Chardonnay 2013 – From Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena is this gorgeous estate grown Chardonnay, the entirety of which was barrel fermented and aged in French oak for 8 months. Aromas of tangerine, pink grapefruit, lemon peel, and almonds were absolutely lovely. Bursting with just-right acidity, notes of butter, oak, and citrus led to a lip-smacking finish that lingered… You may want to complement a margherita pizza or one with a white sauce (or no sauce at all) with this memorable Chardonnay. Cost is $32.

pizza night - Smith Madrone Chardonnay
Zaca Mesa Viognier 2014 – If you’ve never tried Viognier with pizza, you must. Melon and white flowers on the nose of the Zaca Mesa were subtle, smooth, and an enticing introduction to what was in the glass. Creamy flavors of pear, green grass, just-picked herbs, and spice led to a long finish replete with minerality.  So delicious with my pizza loaded with squash, black olives, broccolini, mushrooms, and plenty of cheese, I’ll be finding another bottle of this well priced wine from Santa Barbara County. Cost is $17.

pizza night- Zaca Mesa Viognier
Ciliegiolo 2015 (Rosato) – Glistening a brilliant dark strawberry color in the glass, this rose of Sangiovese from Bonny Doon Vineyard flaunted muscle, beginning with its intense aromas of tart strawberries and raspberries. Full bodied with lively acidity, the wine boasted flavors of fresh red fruit, sensation of minerality with each sip, and a more than satisfying finish. Rich and bold, try a glass of a chilled Ciliegiolo 2015 with a slice or two of vegetarian pizza for a pairing you’ll love. Cost is $24 for club members only.

pizza night - Ciliegiolo Rosato
Artesa Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 – This special wine from grapes cultivated in Napa Valley’s Carneros region will be a gracious complement to any pizza you choose. Wafting from the glass were gentle aromas of dark plums and blueberries, cherries and spice. Structured tannins and food friendly acidity went hand in hand to provide the foundation for bright flavors of more rich, deep fruit, hint of white pepper, and touch of spice. Lush with a long finish, the Artesa Estate Reserve Pinot Noir is worth every bit of $40.

pizza night - Artesa Pinot Noir
Passaggio Grenache 2013 – Cranberry red in the glass, I couldn’t wait for the first sip of this wine with grapes sourced from Paso Robles. Bursting with aromas of vanilla, cranberry, and dark, red fruit, I knew that this was going to pair beautifully with my “The Lou” pizza from world-famous Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. I wasn’t disappointed! Intense flavors of plums, cherries, more cranberries, cloves, and a touch of white pepper were braided with gripping tannins and bright acidity, all of which, when combined with a taste of the pizza, created a taste sensation that was truly notable. And the next best part? The Grenache was even more delicious the second night! Cost is $42.

pizza night - Passaggio Grenache
Scotto Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Of course there must be a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon on this list and this choice from Scotto Cellars in California delivers. What’s there not to love about a wine that exudes aromas of freshly burst blackberries, spice, and hints of earth and smoke? Flavors of rich dark fruit and chocolate were lifted by lively acidity and well integrated tannins. More spice on the elegant finish hit the spot with that “Meat Lover’s” pizza I mentioned earlier. At the price of around $15, you’ll want more than one bottle.

pizza night - Scotto Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
Septima Obra Malbec 2014 – Malbec lovers, this is for you (and anyone else who would like to try a quality Malbec at a reasonable price). From Mendoza, Argentina, this classic wine of 100% Malbec presented intense aromas of sweet spice, bit of florals, dark plums, and juicy red berries. On the palate, I loved the flavor explosion of chocolate, earth, herbs, and rich fruit. Fresh and balanced with chewy tannins and the right amount of acidity that did the “happy dance” in my mouth, the long finish will make any pizza taste so much better! Cost is $24.99.

pizza night - Septima Obra Malbec

Cheers! ~ Cindy

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  1. Charlene e johnson


    Super article . Love the Grenache. A favorite on the East Coast.

    • Cindy Rynning


      Thanks so much, Charlene! I’ll be sure to pass on your love for the Grenache to Cynthia Cosco, the winemaker and owner of Passaggio. Cheers!

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