Pi Day Wine Pairings

Posted March 14, 2016

Stacy Brody


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Pi day celebrates the mathematical constant Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference (edge, perimeter, okay the line that describes the circle) to its diameter (the line that cuts directly through the center of the circle). Just in case you needed a geometry refresher.

This constant is quite long, extending forever. One of our Orders Department team members memorized 100 digits to earn a prize in grade school. She was cool.

(She has since forgotten those 100 digits. I still like her.)

We approximate Pi to 3.14. In the American way of writing dates, this works out to March 14th. This doesn’t quite work in countries where they put the day before the month. It’s a bit confusing. I’ve tried to explain. It’s not worth the effort unless you happen to be in such a country on Pi day and the person you are speaking with also happens to be a great baker.  

Last year’s Pi day was a big one. The date: 3/14/15. The first 5 digits of Pi are 3.1415. This year is almost as important because the next digit is 9, so we can round it to 3.1416. Yes! Celebration! Tell your boss you need pie.

I told mine, and he let me write this article (thanks Brandon). There is hope.

The point of this article is not to talk about Pi. Rather, it is to offer ideas for celebration. Pi Day provides an intellectual excuse to enjoy pies between “real” holidays, like Thanksgiving - apple pie - and July 4th - berry pie.

A few ideas for wine and pie* pairings**

*Note: Really, you can celebrate with whatever you’d like, as long as the food is circular. Pie fills this niche rather well, though I suppose cookies would also do the trick.  

**Also note: Sweet wine with sweet pie is, in my opinion, overdone. To be honest, when I eat dessert pie, I want coffee and ice cream. When I drink sweet wine, I want cheese and chocolate. Savory pies, on the other hand….pizza, potpie and quiche offer fantastic wine pairing opportunities.

  1. Pizza

    Italian red, obviously. Not your Brunellos and Barolos. A more “humble” wine. One of Karen MacNeil’s top 10 wine pairing rules is to pair humble wines with humble foods. So, try a Sangiovese from a good producer. From the south, an everyday-priced Aglianico. Even a red from Siciliy or Sardinia.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a variety of pizzas. It’s the topping that really determines what wines work well. For a traditional pie, stick with classic Italian reds. If, like me, you add spicy crushed red pepper or any other spicy toppings, go for rose, always a user-friendly and refreshing pairing. For a mushroom pie, try something more earthy like a Pinot Noir, and if there’s truffle oil drizzled on top try a Langhe Nebbiolo. When you skip the sauce and order a white pie, you could - gasp! - try a white wine. Try Chardonnay. Go cool climate, i.e. Oregon, Washington, Finger Lakes, Chablis, for something with the character and acidity to meet the creamy, fatty delicious cheese.

    In order to fully celebrate the holiday, make sure not to get one of those rectangular pies.

  2. Potpie

    Try a Chardonnay that is slightly oaky, nutty, and buttery - to complement the crust - yet also has acidity to cleanse the palate from the actual butter. There are a number of Australian Chardonnays that fit the bill, maintaining bright citrus notes while also offering that oak character.  

    My boyfriend makes a mean potpie. He, unlike myself, makes his own pie shell. (I admit to storebought.) The fillings are dense, full of vegetables - classic selections like peas, carrots and mushrooms - and also seitan (vegetarian protein source). He adds a ton of black pepper. Because of that spice and the earthiness from all the baby bella mushrooms, the flavors in his pies are pretty strong and call for an intense, earthy red. If you make pies like him, try a cool-climate Syrah, say from Washington or the northern Rhone.

    Do you know your own crust from scratch? Shout it loud and proud to @WineLib_StacyB

  1. Quiche

    Imagine yourself at a French cafe, dining al fresco, watching all the people walk their cute little dogs. You’re enjoying a beautiful slice of quiche. As I said before, I am a big proponent of rose being a super-user-friendly wine, perfect with a variety of dishes.

    Want red? Try something a bit lighter, like Beaujolais, or with a slightly herbaceous hint, as in Loire Cabernet Franc. These wines can be served with a slight chill.

    For Quiche Lorraine, and other Alsatian-inspired quiches, pair by region. Chill a bottle of Alsatian white - maybe a Pinot Gris or a Riesling. These wines are full and have good acidity. With weight and brightness, they can really balance the creaminess of the quiche. At home, I went a little offbeat: I paired a delicious slice of Quiche a l’Oignon (pat myself on the back there, I made everything but the puff pastry shell) with an off-dry Finger Lakes Riesling.

    Last, but not least, don’t forget bubbly. With egg-based dishes, sparkling wines pair well. Why else would there be Champagne brunch?

Happy Pi Day & Happy Pairings! Test them out. Let me know what you love (and even what you don’t)! @WineLib_StacyB