How to Pair Zinfandel with Food

thirstybottles2When it comes to pairing Zinfandel with food, you tend to hear a couple of the same recommendations over and over again: Zin complements grilled foods and tomato sauces. In the summertime, you can count on Zin to be your go-to burger wine. In the wintertime, Zin will shine alongside an all-day Bolognase. What most people may not realize, however, is that you can also combine these two elements, and have the best of both worlds, by drinking Zinfandel with grilled pizza.

Of course, when it comes to any pizza (grilled or otherwise), homemade dough and homemade sauce is always the best. But not everyone is comfortable with making pizza from scratch, and I can empathize. Dough, in particular, requires an element of baking (and planning) that might place most folks outside of their comfort zone. Still, even if you settle on a high-end frozen pizza, you can achieve some surprisingly nice results on the grill.

There are some pretty decent frozen pizzas out there these days, especially at markets such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. As with most consumer items, you get what you pay for with frozen pizza, so if you opt for the two-dollar Mama Celeste version, please don’t expect any miracles on the grill. Pay the extra few bucks and purchase something edible (and don’t overlook the option of barbecued-chicken pizza — a slightly charred, smoky crust can elevate one of these to new heights).

I definitely recommend picking up a couple frozen pizzas whenever you’re having folks over for a backyard barbecue. It is so simple to grill a pizza or two as an appetizer, which can really help tide people over, especially if you’re barbecuing larger cuts of meats, such as tri-tip, pork loin or beer-can chicken. Just allow the pizzas to thaw for a little while as you’re doing your other prep work in the kitchen. Toss them on the grill once the charcoal has gone grey, like you would for anything else. Get some nice grill marks on the crust, slice the pizzas into wedges or squares, and serve.

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