The Preferred Beverage Italians Pair With Pizza May Surprise You

Cappuccinos, Negronis, and Bellinis all have their place in Italy, but if there's one beverage that Italians love most, it's wine. Pre-meal drinks are for aperitifs, and post-meal tipples are digestifs — but everything in between is all about wine. To put the Italians' love for wine into context, Italy ranked second in its per capita wine consumption in 2020, and each Italian above the age of 15 reportedly drank an average of 46.6 liters of wine (per BK Wine Magazine). So it may seem natural to presume that Italians drink wine with everything, but despite its popularity, there is one food that Italians rarely pair wine with — and that's pizza. 

When it comes time to dig into a hot pizza, Italians prefer drinking beer over wine. While that could be because beer is having its moment of glory in Italy, the main reason Italians favor beer when it's time to eat pizza is more logical. Food and wine historian Jeremy Parzen explained that Italians typically eat pizza for dinner, and the epic amounts of dairy that pizzas come bubbling with require some help to go down (via Food52). "That's why beer and Coke (yes, Coke) are the preferred pairings: because Italians believe, and rightly so, that sparkling beverages aid in digestion," said Parzen. 

The best pairings for beer and pizza

The preferred beverage may change, but Italians put just as much thought into pairing their pizza with the right beer as they would with wine. While Peroni, Moretti, and Nastro Azzurro are all popular beers in Italy, the brew you choose varies depending on the type of pizza.

Spicy pizzas topped with meats like pepperoni taste spicier when paired with pale ales, and pizzas with pineapple go better with equally fruity beers. Plain pizzas, like a classic Margherita, do well with floral ales or the more hoppy IPAs that highlight the simple flavors of the pizza without overpowering them.

Ultra-rich, cheese-filled pizzas like quattro formaggi need lighter beers to offset the fat, whereas the saltiness of meat pizzas goes better with darker ales. Stouts paired with mushroom pizzas amplify and help balance the earthy notes. Pilsners shine next to any pizza topped with a medley of fresh veggies. Flavors aside, remember the main reason for beer-pizza pairing that Jeremy Parzen pointed out is carbonation. Because of this, Italians may still pair wine with pizza, so as long as it's fizzy — think Prosecco, Gragnano, or Lettere. If you want to enjoy an authentic Italian dining experience, don't shy away from drinking a foamy mug of beer with your slice.