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Wine Advisor Express:
Revisiting wine and pizza

Pizza, in my opinion, is one of nature's most perfect foods. Crisp, chewy Italian-style bread topped with creamy cheese, tangy tomato sauce and your choice of toppings, it offers all the best elements of a sandwich and a hot meal in a package that's at least reasonably nutritious. What's not to like?

I also like wine, and I particularly enjoy matching wine and food.

So why can't I warm up to wine with pizza?

This seems particularly counter-intuitive when you consider that pizza is Italian and Italian wine, perhaps more than any other, is perfectly suited by nature and by heritage to go with food.

But when I think of a slice of crunchy, salty, sizzling pizza, I instinctively think of opening a cold BEER to wash it down.

Last night, too busy to cook, we summoned a pizza from a local purveyor, a healthy vegetarian pie topped with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black and green olives and tomatoes. Looking for a wine to match, I decided to pass over the usual Italian choices and go with something French: A Crozes-Hermitage, a Syrah-based Rhone from the relatively low-rent district that shares the name, if not the distinction, of its neighbor Hermitage.

It wasn't a bad choice. Plummy and herbal, with the characteristic Syrah signature of black pepper, it meshed nicely with the bell peppers and tomatoes and pizza spices. I'm adding Syrah to Chianti and Zinfandel on my roster of reasonable pizza wines. How about you? If you've found a wine that really works with pizza, drop me a note and let me know.

Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Gabriel Viale 1999 Crozes-Hermitage ($11.99)
Inky dark reddish-purple. Fragrant black pepper and rather herbaceous fruit. Black plums on the palate, tannic and tart; pepper and lemon-squirt acidity, flavorful if a bit one-dimensional. U.S. importer: Arcadia Imports Ltd., Atlanta.

FOOD MATCH: Pizza topped with red and green peppers, black and green olives and onions.

WEB LINK: The label lists a Website for the producer at http://www.laboure-roi.com, but this address yields an error message.

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This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. For archives of previous articles, and to read more about wine, visit Wine Lovers' Page, http://www.wineloverspage.com.

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Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2002
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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