Posted: Jun 15, 2011 9:31 AM
Updated: Jun 15, 2011 10:06 AM
Wine and the Cliff House Margherita Pizza
Many of you have heard of the Cliff House at Pikes Peak, and many of you have eaten in our highly acclaimed dining room. Something new for our long-time guests, and a nice introduction for those unacquainted, is the Red Mountain Bar and Grill at the Cliff House of Manitou Springs. A two million dollar expansion, catering to a casual clientele with an appreciation of fine food, the Red Mountain Bar and Grill offers an affordable, high quality alternative to either dressing up, or rolling up your sleeves and filling the sink with dishes.
One of our most popular items in the Red Mountain Bar and Grill is the classic Margherita Pizza, a hand made pizza in the traditional Naples style. I offer some ideas upon how better to enjoy your repast.
The Margherita pizza was first crafted in Naples in 1889. The dish was created as both a handy, expedient lunch, and as an expression of national pride - representing the colors of the Italian flag in tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.
At the Red Mountain Bar and Grill, Chef Savage has recreated this traditional pizza using a house-made, hand-tossed crust, with vine-ripened Roma tomatoes, fresh basil and a stringy buffalo mozzarella.
Now to our purpose - pairing this classic dish with wine. As I offer my recommendations, you will likely notice a trend. Many of the wines will hail from Italy, and all of the wines will have light to medium body, fresh acidity, and bright, red fruit flavors.
Due to the inherent acidity of tomatoes, it is best to choose a wine with complementing brightness, lest your pie become tart, or your wine ponderous and flabby. Also true, the more versatile a wine, (i.e. one that doesn't stick its neck out too far), the more varied and complex your toppings can be - try to avoid oaky or overly assertive wines. With nothing else to go on, trust indigenous foods with indigenous wines - there's a good reason locals eat and drink what they do.
Let's start with some wines from Piedmont. Dolcetto is a versatile varietal from the North West of Italy. Typically a fragrant and light bodied red wine, Dolcetto is often un-oaked, with fresh, red berry flavors, and aromas of leather or fresh turned earth. Look to Prunotto's or Sori Paitin's Dolcetto d' Alba for appropriate and affordable options.
With just a little more body, Barbera is another great Piedmont option. The everyday drinking wine of the region, Barbera often smells like suede and tastes like cherries. Mattei is a go-to producer, with a consistent product that invariably pleases.
I would be remiss to ignore Tuscany. Chianti and its primary grape, Sangiovese, offer a classic pizza pairing - showing medium body, red plum and raspberry flavors, with fresh, bright acidity and an appealing minerality. Banfi is a good name to know, with an excellent Chianti Classico and a fantastic Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Should you enjoy a little more "fruit forward" wine, Pinot Noir from California's coastal regions, or a nice Oregon Pinot Noir will certainly fit the bill. One great choice is Domaine Drouhin, from Oregon's Dundee Hills. With a lush velvet texture, ripe black cherry flavors, a hint of purple flowers and a spicy, racy soul, Domaine Drouhin stands a great chance of improving your meal, as well as your day.
If you haven't joined us yet in the Red Mountain Bar and Grill, then please accept my invitation for a casual, fireside slice, a great glass of wine, and a taste of Italy.