What's Best To Drink With Pizza And Football?

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Americans will consume a lot of pizza during the Super Bowl. Before you reach for that beer to go with it, NPR's Scott Simon speaks with food writer Katie Parla about the perfect beverage pairing.


This Super Bowl weekend millions of slices of pizza will be consumed and 51 million cases of beer. But there are a lot of beverages to wash down a slice. Katie Parla is a journalist and food historian. She's from New Jersey, where the game will be played, but she lives in Italy now and has written about beverages that go with pizza for Saveur magazine. She joins us on the line from Rome. Thanks very much for being with us.

KATIE PARLA: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: So what's your beverage lineup?

PARLA: I'm a total pizza purist and I also love champagne and fortunately these two items go well, really well together.

SIMON: But you can't drink the champagne until the team you're rooting for has won, or am I being old fashioned?

PARLA: That's a bit old fashioned. I mean, save your really great bottle for the end of the game, provided that your favorite team has won, but if you don't want to really start out with the nice champagne stuff, you can begin with a champagne-style sparkler from Italy called Franciacorta, and those go really well with Margherita pizzas as well.

SIMON: What about - I hope this doesn't expose me to ridicule, or any more ridicule - Chianti?

PARLA: Chianti is a really classic pizza pairing in American pizzerias and I think you can pretty much get away with it because the conventional, more industrial style cheeses that you find in the U.S. don't call for that crisp acidity and minerality that champagne or Franciacorta or any of the number of white wines would provide. So I won't ridicule you. It's a decent pairing.

SIMON: Thank you.


PARLA: You're welcome.

SIMON: Can I try and make the case for cider?

PARLA: Absolutely. Fruit-oriented beers can go really well with foods, especially sort of a lightly acidic cider isn't going to really challenge the acidic nature of tomato-based pies, so that's a fantastic pairing as well.

SIMON: What about non-alcoholic brews?

PARLA: For non-alcoholic brews, I think it's fun to actually look at the origins of pizza or at least we claim that Naples is the area that developed pizza as we know it. So I suggest going for lemon-based things - making homemade lemonade is great. More in the full throes of citrus season, you can even make sort of like a sparkling orange juice.

SIMON: You going to watch the game?

PARLA: I might. I might watch the game. Depends on how late I'm able to stay up.

So you're not rooting for one team in particular or anything?

I'm Roma sports fanatic, the original football, so...

SIMON: Oh, European-style football, what we call soccer here, you mean?

PARLA: Exactly.

SIMON: Well, Katie Parla is journalist and a food historian and author of a culinary travel blog called Parla Food. She joined us from Rome. Thanks very much for being with us.

PARLA: Thanks so much for having me.


SIMON: This is NPR News.


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