You can’t just have a pizza without a cold beverage to complement the flavours and round out the experience, can you? And we don’t just mean alcohol, we want a drink for everyone at the party.
Every pizza has its own flavour profiles, so no one drink is ‘the one’ but, this pairing guide more tries to point those of you, who may be new to the pizza culture, in the right direction to help you have the best start to your exploration and refining of your tastes and likings. Many searches on Google are very set in their pairings, but we hope in this article to go over different flavour profiles, to help you choose what you like and then start to explore according to YOUR tastes, not according to what you ‘should’ like!

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Pairings for Light, Simple Pizza such as Margherita or Mozzarella Cheese Pizza

These pizzas are very simple and have a more delicate flavour profile so we would suggest that you start with a beverage that is more subtle in flavour and not bold or overpowering to allow yourself to still enjoy the taste of the pizza. Beverages in this area would be white wines, sparkling water, light lagers, and gin cocktails to name a few.

Our Pairing Suggestions:

Wine

We would go with white wines that tend to be lighter and airier to allow the simpler pizzas to shine through. A glass of good quality champagne also wouldn’t be a bad idea!

Beers and Cider

Light Lagers, in taste and alcohol content, are the perfect refreshing beverage when ice cold to pair with a plain cheese pizza. Pear cider is lighter in taste than apple or mixed fruit which is why we suggest pear for these simpler pizzas.

Spirits and Cocktails

Here again, we would suggest staying in the realm of neutral grain spirits such as vodkas and gins and spritzers with lighter fruits such as strawberry, watermelon and lime.

Non-Alcoholic

Adam’s ale will never fail! Sparkling water with the added carbonation just helps to cleanse the palette and allows every bite of pizza to taste as amazing as the first. Non-Alcoholic lager and wines we would suggest keeping within the same categories as their alcoholic counterparts recommended above. Soft drinks such as Sprite or 7UP would be the most likely pairing for simple pizzas, as the slight citrus and sparkle will refresh as well as cleanse the palette.

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Pairings for More Exciting Pizza such as a Hawaiian or Pepperoni/Salami Pizza

You will hardly ever go to a pizza party and not find these two classics being cooked! The ham and pineapple of the Hawaiian add the perfect sweetness to complement the char on the fresh pizza crust (for the purists, we know that pineapple is an abomination! We are just trying to help everyone here!). And as for pepperoni…pepperoni was made for pizza. For these pizzas, we would get a bit more adventurous with the beverages and start to introduce some more flavours and mild profiles stepping it up a notch from the lighter beverages.

Our Pairing Suggestions:

Wine

With more complex flavours being introduced, we would start to reach for the Rose wines and the drier red wines. The dry reds especially will help to cut through and complement the stronger pepperoni and salami flavours.

Beers and Cider

Italian lager such as Peroni and Japanese lager Asahi would be our go-to choices for these types of pizza. Asahi we will admit is not everyone’s choice as it is a dry lager. Apple or strawberry and lime cider are wonderful flavours to complement pepperoni or hawaiian pizza and are also refreshing.

Spirits and Cocktails

The selection of spirits open to our choice, as the pizza flavours increase in complexity, begins to open up to a realm that we cannot cover in this blog alone and indeed could possibly never cover! For the Pepperoni and Salami pizzas, a lightly malted scotch with a dash of water, or cognac and lemonade we have known to be quite a match. Also well suited here would be gin and vodka with a mixer of your choice. For the Hawaiian pizza, coconut rum such as Malibu or Koko Kanu mixed with Coke or in a cocktail such as the aptly named Blue Hawaiian is the perfect match.

Non-Alcoholic

Soft drinks such as Coke and Lemonade will always be a refreshing and thirst-quenching pairing for pizzas. There are also fruity sodas such as Rio that would be a good pairing with Hawaiian. If you are wanting water, but want to add a little enhancement, sparkling water is also a go-to here. However, make sure there is still water available at your party, as like pineapple, people have a love-hate relationship with sparkling water!

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Pairings for Meaty and Heavy Flavoured Pizzas such as All Meat or Spicy Chicken Pizza with Jalapenos

These two types of pizza tend to be the boldest on the flavour profile. For all meat pizza, we would go with pepperoni, salami, sausage, and diced chicken on a base of Fior di Latte and Rustica pizza sauce. This will give any meat lover immense satisfaction! For the spicy chicken pizza, use the same base of the sauce and mozzarella cheese topped off with diced Mexican chicken and a generous portion of jalapenos will give that spicy kick and liven things up! Beverages to pair with this really open here and you can start to include heavier flavours as they will not hide the pizza flavour and you can enjoy both.

Our Pairing Suggestions:

Wine

These pizzas really lend themselves to red wines such as an Italian Primitivo or a Malbec. These wines are full-bodied and rich in flavour pairing well with both the meat and the spice.

Beers and Cider

For those that like the richer, deeper, darker flavours of dark ales or stouts, you will be happy here! An ice-cold Guinness or one of Hobgoblins vast range of ales would slip down quite nicely and complement either of these pizzas. On the ciders, the mixed fruit and dark fruit flavours would go along very well. For the Spicy option, a cold Aspalls Draught Cyder is, in our opinion, the perfect match!

Spirits and Cocktails

We can start to get into the richer spirits here with single malt whiskeys and other whiskeys from Scotch to Irish variants and beyond. Whiskeys are quite subjective when it comes to taste, so we would leave that for you to explore your taste as far as the whiskey goes, but you can explore without fear of hiding the pizza, that’s all we care about! With these two pizzas, the meat, and spicy ones, you almost have a free hand to drink your preferred drink of choice really. Whether that is cognac, brandy, whiskey, bourbon, plain or flavoured gin or vodka or any other spirit or cocktail of spirits, the choice is quite wide with these heavier types of pizza.

Non-Alcoholic

In the non-alcoholic choices, the suggestions are really, as above for the alcoholic counterparts, that it is down to personal preference and with these two types of pizza, you have more freedom of beverage choice as the pizza flavours are stronger and more potent. So, if your preference is a fruit flavoured soda, or coke or even a tropical fruit punch to cool the spice, you can enjoy both pizza and beverage equally!

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Finally, 5 General Rules of Thumb for Beverage Pairing with Pizza

We realise that we have probably not mentioned everyone’s favourite beverage in this guide, and we are sorry! If we were to do that, we would need a book, not a one-page guide.
However, we do have a few rules of thumb that you can use to help you make your choice, based on what beverages you already like!

  1. If the pizza is plain, keep the beverage simple too.
  2. As your pizza style gains complexity, so can your beverages.
  3. Alternatively, if you want to have plain pizza and not be constrained in your beverage choice, have water with lemon or sparkling water or any other plain and palate-cleansing drink as well as your beverage to allow you to taste the beverage and the pizza at their peak flavours individually.
  4. There are NO RULES! This is a guide for those that may be just want to start somewhere and not want a bad experience!
  5. Flavours are very much a personal choice, and pizza and beverages are to be enjoyed together. There is not a wrong beverage, if it makes you happy, that’s all that matters!

We hope that this guide is helpful to the freshmen of the pizza culture and wish you all the best on your journey of exploration into different pizza flavours and beverage pairings! Why not post a picture of your pizza and beverage of choice and tag @virtuepizza on Instagram or Facebook? We would love to see your choices!
Happy Drinking!