By Amy Chen
October, perhaps the most delicious month, is home to Thanksgiving, Halloween and now… Pizza Month.
To show support for North American’s growing pizza love, Gerry Durnell, pizzeria owner and founder of Pizza Today Magazine, launched a national pizza-focused magazine in October 1984 and designated the month as Pizza Month. If you don’t already know, Town Hall is all about celebrating the bounty of good food and great wine. When we sat down with our team to plan this special foodie month, we unanimously agreed that any idea we came up with needed to include what we love most: wine. With this in mind and a certified wine scholar on the team (Sujinder Juneja), it only made sense for us to do a series of wine and pizza pairings to share with all of our friends! For the next five #WineWednesday in October, grab a slice of pizza, sit-back, and follow us on our blog to find the perfect wine pairing for that slice in your hand. Let us know if you have a favourite wine and pizza pairing that we can share with our readers. Looking forward to celebrating Pizza Month and #WineWednesdays with you this October.
WEEK 1 (OCTOBER 1)
October 1st is not only the start of Pizza Month but also World Vegetarian Day. It makes perfect sense for our very first #WineWednesday #PizzaMonth post to pair great wines with vegetarian pizzas. Michael Pollan, in his acclaimed book In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto (Penguin Books, 2009) suggests that as a responsible species, we should “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With a cornucopia of sustainable, locally-sourced and delicious fruits and vegetables to choose from in British Columbia, the possibilities for veggie-themed pizzas are near endless. Here are a couple favourite pairings from two of Town Hall’s sustainably-minded wineries:
Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s 2013 Small Lot Pinot Gris is a certified-organic custom blend from winemaker/viticulturalist Eric von Krosigk, which includes 8% Chardonnay and 5% Viognier, both fermented in oak barrels, plus 2% Pinot Blanc, each of which add gorgeous aromatics and balanced structure. The bright stone fruit and citrus tones of this wine will pair perfectly with pizza topped with fresh sliced pear, caramelized onions, extra virgin olive oil, organic goat cheese and coarse sea salt.
Already well-known for terroir-driven Pinot Gris, Summerland’s Haywire Winery has created quite a stir with their 2012 Gamay Noir, which offers a nose of bright red fruit and sweet earth, leading to flavours of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. Consider pairing with a vegetarian pizza topped with spinach, Portobello mushrooms, sweet and spicy peppadew peppers with a homemade garlic pesto base.
WEEK 2 (OCTOBER 8)
100% Okanagan and 100% to charity. The gold-medal winning (2014 BC Wine Awards) 2013 Rosé from The Girls (produced and distributed by Time Estate Winery) is a food-friendly blend that shows a soft pink colour with an intensely fragrant, floral nose of raspberry and wild strawberry. It’s dry and medium-bodied, with a thread of refreshing acidity. Pizza toppings with a bit of “spice” would work very well with this vivacious charmer – try with your favourite ground meat (spiced and pan-fried before baking), black olives, green onions, fresh BC tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and a mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese.
A new favourite of ours is the just-released 2012 Quill Red blend from Blue Grouse Estate Winery in the Cowichan Valley. It’s a unique and deliciously balanced blend of Cabernet Foch, Marechal Foch, Merlot and Cabernet Libre sourced from Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley. This robust red calls for a hearty pizza with pepperoni, spicy capicola, Italian sausage, red onions and mozzarella cheese with a tomato sauce base.
Both wines are priced at under $20 – you might just want to grab two of each and share with friends.
WEEK 3 (OCTOBER 15)
Well Seasoned is THE foodie paradise in the Fraser Valley. The store has just celebrated 10 successful years of being the go-to gourmet superstore in the region and has just moved to a brand new location at #117-20353 64 Ave in Langley. Angie Quaale,Well Seasoned’s owner, believes that the best pizza can only be made with the best ingredients and a few key tools.
Angie says the best homemade pizzas are made in the oven with a pizza stone, guaranteeing your pie even heat distribution so that the crust cooks evenly on the top as well as the bottom. You can get a good oneat Well Seasoned for around 20 bucks. She also recommends a pizza ‘peel’ – a handle with a flat wooden carrying surface – to keep the pizza from falling on the floor as it goes in and out of the oven. They are a great investment for any serious pizza maker.
Of course, it’s not even toppings that matter most, but the base that will make the pizza perfect.
Angie suggests always having a package of frozen pizza dough on hand (she uses the ones from local Calabria Bakery). Making your own sauce from canned and peeled Italian tomatoes is always a great idea, seasoned with your own choice of dried herbs and specialty salts. Well Seasoned has plenty to choose from. Be creative. Have fun. Eat Pizza!
Need more inspiration? Well Seasoned is offering a “Killer Pizza” class with Chef Carl Sawatsky on October 30 at 6:30pm. For just $60, you can learn to make pizza like a boss.
WEEK 4 (October 22)
This week, we’re pleased to introduce you to a newcomer to the BC wine scene – Kamloops’ Monte Creek Ranch. Their wines are now arriving at select liquor stores and restaurants across the province and we know you’ll be impressed. Amazing flavours, great packaging and a unique history all add up to a sensational experience. Their 2013 Riesling offers mid-week friendly low alcohol, fresh acidity and notes of balanced minerality, along with a crisp lemon/lime citrus and grapefruit finish. Try it with a pizza topped with savoury grilled chicken and pineapple, on a freshly-made crust brushed with olive oil, lemon juice and citrus sea salt. A dollop or two of gooey mascarpone cheese would round things out nicely.
While the debate rages on about what a “signature grape” could or should be for the British Columbia, there’s no doubt that Syrah is often name-checked as one of the front-runners. Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery has been farming grapes throughout the valley since the late 1960s and their passion for the land is evident in each and every one of the wines they produce. Their 2010 Syrah is sourced from family-owned vineyards in the picturesque Similkameen Valley. Aromas and flavours of dark plum, blackberries, leather and black pepper lead a velvety long finish. To balance the rich fruit and spicy notes of the wine, we’re thinking Genoa salami, bacon and ham with a blend of mozzarella and parmesan cheese over a tomato sauce base.
WEEK 5 (October 29)
Ever since we first met Judy and tasted through her wines, we were hooked. The love, care and attention that she and her team devotes to every bottle is earning them accolades beyond our provincial borders. Planning a visit to Naramata? Make sure you stop in to say hi to Judy and her second-in-command, Katie, who are always there to greet visitors with a smile and a glass. We’ve long been fans of their Viognier, and the 2013 vintage shows notes of orange blossom and tangerine with notes of toasted coconut, blood orange and apricot, balanced with refreshing acidity. How about a pizza with a creamy Thai curry sauce base, topped with wild shrimp (Ocean Wise, naturally), red onions, red and orange peppers, pineapple, coriander and mozzarella.
Oliver’s legendary Sundial Vineyard was planted on the Black Sage Bench in South Okanagan in 1992. For more than 20 years, the vineyard has produced some of the most sought-after and award-winning wines in the province, based mostly on Bordeaux varietals. TIME Estate Winery, launched by vineyard owners Harry McWatters and Bob Wareham continues the tradition of producing premium fruit under direction of viticulturist Richard Cleve. The 2011 Meritage (Red) is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It offers classic aromas of red berries, black cherries and pepper with a character that suggests rose petal and sage. Inspired by the artisan thin crust pizza from Summerland’s Local Lounge • Grille, we suggest a pizza topped with olive oil, arugula, roasted local garlic and braised short rib.
Thank you to everyone that followed along with our #PizzaMonth wine and pizza suggestions. Were you inspired to try these recipes yourself or do you have other suggestions to share? We’d love to hear from you. Send a photo, write us an email or leave a comment below. Happy eating!