Let’s talk Pizza. It doesn’t matter what age you are, where you’re from, what kind of food you’re into, one thing is for certain: you love fresh baked bread topped with melted cheese and sweet, tomato sauce.
My love for pizza has stayed strong since childhood, but now that I’m technically classified as an ‘adult’ the accompanying beverage that I choose to wash it down with has evolved from artificially-flavored pop to something far more mature. And I’m not talking generic American lager here, folks. I mean, to each their own, but have you tasted some of the world-class artisanal pizza being produced in major cities across the country these days? You wouldn’t go to a five-star dining establishment and finish off your fine filet mignon with cheap swill, so why would consider doing such with an authentic Neapolitan-style pie made with all-natural, locally-sourced ingredients?
800 Degrees (10889 Lindbrook Drive) in Los Angeles totally gets it. This innovative parlor offers an artful array of craft beer and wine on tap, all befitting of the top-notch, customized pies that continuously crank out of their wood-burning ovens. And yes, you read that correctly: they feature wine on draft, 4 to be exact, including Darcie Kent‘s 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tangent‘s 2011 Pinot Grigio from Edna Valley.
They recently opened their doors in the quaint village of Westwood, just blocks away from the heart of UCLA’s campus. But you don’t need an advanced degree to understand how such a simple-yet-seldom-used formula attracts the high-paced lines that frequently spill out onto the streets here. Fast, fresh, finely-crafted, and most importantly: flavorful.
I sat down with General Manager Jolie Duhon for a crash-course in pizza pairing and what I learned was as pleasing to the palate as it was informative and insightful.
First lesson: wines with strong acidity go well with fatty, robust flavors as the acid tends to cut through the fat and bring balance to the tongue. She recommended pairing their 2009 Laetitia Pinot Noir with the Tartufo Pie—a popular combination of truffle cheese, roasted mushrooms and arugula. The earth tones of the well-balanced red danced ever-so-delicately with the deep flavors of mushroom and truffle topping the Tartufo. Another good partner for emboldening thick and smokier flavors is a full-bodied IPA. In addition to New Belgium’s Ranger IPA on tap, 800 Degrees also serves bottles of Green Flash’s West Coast IPA—a holy grail for Hopheads.
Second lesson: fruitier wines go well with sweeter foods. The Sausage and Peppers special, made with the slightly-sugary house tomato sauce, sweet italian sausage, and caramelized onions begged for a bright Chardonnay or even better—a slightly sweet sparkling Lambrusco.
Final lesson: Prosecco goes well with everything, so pop the bub and celebrate some good grub.