Monday, July 23, 2007

Another Pizza Wine: Negroamaro

I adore pizza. Takeout, home-made, eat in a restaurant-- anything but frozen, although I have been known to weaken and chuck an American Flatbread pizza into the oven in moments of desperation, and they're pretty good, too.

As any wine-lover knows, contrary to legend and rumour, finding a good wine to go with pizza can be a bit of a challenge. Tangy sauce, lots of cheese, and a multitude of possible toppings complicate the issue. I don't like super-jammy wines with my pizza, since they seem to clash with the acidity of the tomato sauce, but a green cabernet isn't quite the thing, either. Sangiovese is my usual default option, but they can be expensive since Chianti is such a well known wine region. So when you find a good red wine to go with your pizza--heaven. That's why I'm always on the lookout for new varietals that might yield plausible wines for pizza and don't cost a fortune.

My recent varietal discovery is negroamaro. Native to southern Italy, negroamaro produces dark red wines that are known for their earthiness and rusticity. (Curious about rusticity? See the conversation about "rustic wine" over at Dr. Vino). I prefer a slightly rustic, spicy wine with my pie to a jammy, fruity wine so when I saw the 2002 La Corte Negroamaro from Puglia in a box of bin ends at an independent grocery store up here on the coast for $15.99, I grabbed it. Turns out the price was a steal. If you want to get some of this wine, Adel's in San Francisco has it, but you will pay close to $30. For the price I paid, this was an excellent QPR red pizza wine. It was a deep purpley-red in color, with aromas of black tea leaves, tobacco, and plum. Flavors of plum filled your mouth from the first sips, then there were notes of herbs and toast and the tannic grip and flavor of tea to carry you through to the herbal-tobacco finish. I found that this wine was surprisingly complex and sophisticated for a varietal known for making rustic wines. And it was smooth and easy to drink too, without being jammy.

It was excellent with a homemade pizza made by my dad, that was loaded with pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions. The wine brought out the herbs in the sauce, the tobacco and tea notes paired well with the earthiness of the mushrooms and onions, and the smoothness was an excellent companion to the gooey mozzarella cheese.

As this was my first bottle of wine made with negroamaro I'm not sure if it was typical, but it sure was good. I'd be interested to hear from Italian wine fans about their experiences with the grape. This is a varietal I'm going to keep my eye out for in the stores and continue to explore in the coming months--if I can find some more wines to try.


winedeb said...

Yep, pizza is a tuffy to pair a wine, especially a white one! But I usually hit the zins for my choice. But your new grape has sparked an interest. Going to make a trip to the BIG wine store today so I am going to look for one to try. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I live just in the middle of the Negroamaro region that is called Salento. I suggest you this variety for pizza, yes, I usually drink this wine with pizza. But it is good also for other foods like meat, especially with roast meat. The wine made with Negroamaro is very strong, let's say 'rustic', if you like 'light wine' it isn't for you. Actually I live where Salice Salentino is made. I would like to suggest you to try more Negroamaros, they're so good, but I don't know if they are available where you live. So, just try ;)

Dr. Debs said...

Good luck finding Negroamaro, Deb. I've never seen it before. But Fabio's suggestion below is a good one--salento I see more often and it, too is a good pizza wine. Welcome back, Fabio! The wine was certainly robust, but is was complex and sophisticated too. Nice combination in a wine.

Anonymous said...

A great negroamaro wine to try is Mezzo Mondo Negroamaro Rosso Salento. I live in Ontario, Canada, and purchase it for $8.40 (CDN). Superb wine, amazing value! Great on it's own, with pasta, and yes, pizza too.

silvestro silvestori said...

I run a cooking school in the Salento and will be launching a wine program early next year. If you'd like to know more about negroamaro- or any other wine from the Salento- consider signing up for my newsletter at
Silvestro Silvestori

Cellar Tours said...

I totally agree! For more pizza and wine pairing ideas, have a look at


Pam Strayer said...

Chiarito Vineyards in Ukiah California makes a great Negroamaro wine - Its even practicing organic and dry farmed.