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It may not be particularly apparent, but Zinfandel and pizza share a common origin. Zinfandel, which has become the California “work horse” varietal, is from Croatia, while pizza originated in Naples, less than 250 miles away.
Zinfandel, known as “Crljenak Kaštelanski” in Croatia, has a deep-rooted history in California. It established its tradition during the Gold Rush, when Zinfandel migrated from the Northeast region of the U.S. to the West. Its production skyrocketed in this time period because the grape could be easily cultivated using the traditional European “head pruning” technique, which didn’t require special equipment or scarce resources. The ready availability of Zinfandel, combined with its versatility and substance, made it highly popular with the area’s miners. Today, Zinfandel is an established red table wine and the third highest-grown grape in California.
Like Zinfandel, pizza in the United States has its roots abroad. Pizza migrated to the United States with Italian immigrants during the late 19th century, becoming popular in places with large Italian-American communities, such as New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Saint Louis. However, its popularity really took off after World War II, when returning troops created a large demand for the delicious dish they had discovered overseas.
When combined, Zinfandel and pizza create the perfect match—no Cupid necessary. Pizza is basically high gluten bread, tomato puree and mozzarella cheese seasoned with herbs and garlic, which produce fragrant odors. The brightness of the modest acidity of the wine is perfectly balanced by the tomato puree, which are typically very acidic. Zinfandel’s light tannins are perfect with the cheese and complement the tomato acidity. Both the wine and food have harmonious fragrance. Zinfandel is also very versatile and pairs well with a variety of pizza types, from the classic pepperoni and cheese to the heavy meat lover’s variation.
If all this talk about Zin and pizza made you hungry, be sure to come out for Endless Pizza Night on Fridays from 5 PM – 9 PM, where you can try this heavenly combination for yourself!