At times, even New Yorkers have to settle for grocery store gourmet when it comes to pizza. Few brands are as ubiquitous as Nestle’s DiGiorno. It might not be delivery, but it definitely deserves a side of booze. From the confusing (and salty) Pizza Bianchi to Three (Mystery) Meats and 4-Cheese wonder slices, we’ve got the right wines to match both the flavor and the budget of this self-rising classic.
Our discerning panel of drinkers, winemakers, wannabe winemakers and pizza enthusiasts gathered over a mass of pies to find the perfect vinous match for classic and nouveau DiGiorno varieties. All the wines we sampled cost under $15, and are widely available at grocery stores or bodegas nationally. Throughout our sampling, two elements stood out: sweetness and salinity. DiGiorno pizzas were really salty, whether covered in spicy buffalo sauce or simply cheese, and the puffy, fluffy pizza crusts were sweetly reminiscent of brioche buns or challah. Generally, with sweet and salty foods wines with tart fruit flavors and hints of minerality work best. That was true with these pizzas, though some full-bodied and even sweet reds surprised and delighted us.
In short, if you’re going for cheap pizza, DiGiorno delivers more flavor than most delivery, though their serving size of 1/6 pizza is downright laughable. If you’re feeling slightly adventurous but don’t want to try to deal with pizza dough, consider making some of these great flatbread recipes instead. Another mark for the freezer aisle, these slices won’t leave your fingers too greasy for gaming marathons or using touch screens. Read on for the results.
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This was definitely a basic variety, dominated simply by mozzarella. We liked the intensity and authentic pizza flavor, but were disappointed by the lack of gooey, stretchy cheese. The best match for this simple classic is inexpensive Cava, where the bubbles eliminated the pie’s salty aftertaste and left us feeling refreshed.
DiGiorno’s pepperoni was more sweet than spicy, which at first surprised all of our tasters. We loved the flavor overall, and were shocked that rich California Cabernet Sauvignon worked best with this pie. Normally, alcohol and spice don’t mix, but the combination sweet pepperoni and fluffy crust brought out the black fruit tones of our Cabernet.
Unless Stuffed Crust is on sale, don’t spend the extra dollar for this add-on from Nestle’s flavor scientists–this crust was like sad, lukewarm string cheese stick even as the top of the pie was piping hot. Crust aside, Supreme was one of our favorite varieties, loaded with flavors more complex than sodium and super rich, it had all the hallmarks of good pizza including an excellent toppings to sauce ratio. The best pairing was an off-dry red, in our case Zinfandel, but we agreed other sweet reds like Jam Jar or Lambrusco would be great here. Full-flavored pizza plus full-flavored wine equals bliss.
Cheese Stuffed Crust Buffalo Style Chicken Paired With Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
While flavor masterminds haven’t gotten the formula right for stuffed crust, they’ve got buffalo sauce down. The bright red drizzles on this pizza were classically spicy, making up for otherwise bland chicken. Tropical-fruit laden New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was refreshing and delicious, and made us question opting for beer with buffalo-flavored anything this football season.
The “Pizzeria!” label deserves its exclamation point–we all would’ve gladly shelled out dine-in prices for this thin crust combination of mozzarella, feta, garlic, spinach and chicken. Though crispy, this crust was also flaky and pastry-esque, and the toppings were truly flavorful (read: not for garlic haters). The white sauce and preponderance of rich flavors sent us diving for high-acid Riesling that quenched our thirst, and left this decadent pizza feeling light and, dare we say, classy.
Montepulciano is the red “work horse” grape of Italy and it certainly did work with this carnivore’s dream of a pizza. The “Beef Pizza Topping” label on the box scared us, but this pie was downright scrumptious, with just enough spice and hints of maple sweetness. With cherry flavors, medium body, and mild tannins, eating this entire pie was easy.