Are you puzzled over which wine to drink with which pizza?
If this is making you lose sleep at night, the site VinePair — "Learn about wine. Drink in delight" — has built an app designed to relieve your anxiety. It's called the Wine & Pizza Pairing App and it lives not on your phone, but on the VinePair site, where you can go to find lots of basic information on wine.
"Tell our handy pizza pairing app what kind of pizza you're eating and it tells you the perfect wine to pair with your meal," reads the copy on the page.
So, if you're eating cheese, pepperoni, spicy sausage, veggie or any of 15 variations on the pizza theme, including one I've never encountered -- namely ziti (presumably pizza topped with pasta) -- you simply click on the drawing and up pops your wine recommendation in red or white.
OK, so I'm thinking of ordering a mushroom pizza, say. The only option is Mushroom Truffle, so I click that. Next question: Do you want to drink red or white wine? I click red — and here comes my wine pairing: Nebbiolo. "The classic wines of Piedmont are made for truffles and while Barolo is too expensive, the less expensive and completely delicious Nebbiolo is a great choice. You could also try Gamay."
Wouldn't that be the classic red wines of Piedmont? I hesitate, too, at the bald statement that theses wines are "made for truffles." They're made for a lot of other things, too, such as brasato al barolo (beef braised in barolo) or carne cruda (raw veal tartare).
It might be helpful to add that Nebbiolo is generally made in a more youthful style, with less concentration and tannins than Barolo. And a better alternative to Gamay might be fruity, quaffable Dolcetto d'Alba from the same region as Nebbiolo.
What do I get if I choose Brussels sprouts pizza (of course) and red wine? Barbera, "not only a great wine for most pizzas, but delicious with one topped with brussels sprouts, especially if those sprouts are cooked with bacon." No arguments there.
For an anchovy pizza, if white, the answer is Verdicchio "to cut through the salinity of the fish." Sensible enough.
What red goes with a spicy sausage pizza, though? Syrah. Seriously? "One of Syrah's most famous flavors is bacon fat, and we can think of no red that would go better with sausage pizza than one whose flavors include delicious bacon." I disagree. This is a natural for Barbera, a wine with a bright acidity that cleans the palate after a bite of something rich and fatty.
What about veggie pizza? The app suggests a rosé: "Red wine can often overpower veggie pizzas, so we like to play it safe here with a nice rosé." And for Hawaiian pizza? If you want to drink red, choose a Zinfandel. If you go with white wine instead, the app suggests that Riesling pairs with the pineapple.
If you don't have a clue which wine might go with pizza, then you might have some fun with VinePair's Wine & Pizza Pairing app. For anybody with more wine knowledge, the recommendations are just too general to be useful — since each of the wines recommended are made in many different styles.
In an effort to be accessible and not seem pretentious, the site's founders and authors (all knowledgeable wine people) have perhaps gone too far in the other direction. It's tricky to find the right tone, isn't it?
But this isn't WinePair's first foray into wine recommendations for the clueless.
Check out the Wine and Takeout Food Pairing App, which generates recommendations for Chinese, barbecue, fried food, Indian, burgers, Thai, wings and more. It works the same way as the pizza app, suggesting (and this is a surprise) little known Blaufrankisch from Austria or a semi-sweet German Riesling for Chinese takeout. And Champagne or Lambrusco for fast-food fried chicken.
Champagne for KFC? That's where they lost me.