Wine And Gourmet Pizza Pairing Tips And Recommendations


Hailing from the island of Mauritius, Chef Julien Li, who has been living in Singapore for seven years, works as a business consultant on weekdays and transitions into the role of a pizza chef during weekends for his private dining called Zuzu Kitchen.

His childhood memories revolved around pizza, whether it was his grandma making mini pizzas after school or dining out at Italian restaurants with his Italian food-loving dad. Growing up in a family where food was a shared joy,  Julien developed a profound appreciation for food. His journey into pizza-making began when a friend gifted him a pizza kit which sparked a personal challenge to perfect his pizza skills. This passion eventually led him to invest in a Effeuno pizza oven from Italy and as the saying goes the rest is history.

Through hours of research and development, his recipe revolves around five basic ingredients: water, flour, yeast, salt and ‘love’. The dough undergoes a three-day fermentation process and high hydration, resulting in a crust that is crispy on the outside and chewy in the centre.

To further his pizza know-how Julien has also worked under Bjorn Shen who provided him with the opportunity to experience kitchen life and to learn diverse techniques as well as explore different ingredients and flavours.

Essentially he wants to introduce his guests to Mauritian flavours that comprises French, Indian, and African influences. He is also always on the lookout for interesting ingredients during his travels and brings them back to Singapore and incorporates them into his pizzas. Zuzu’s menu is shaped by the availability of ingredients that Julien finds at the markets. The primary inspiration, however, stems from his Mauritian background and the diverse experiences gathered during his travels.

Despite the perception of it being a carb-heavy meal, Zuzu’s secret lies in the high hydration of their dough and the extended fermentation process. This results in a light, airy, and easily digestible dough. The goal is to craft an enjoyable and memorable dining experience for all guests – achieved through simple and balanced ingredients that allow each component to shine. With reservations full and a waiting list, Zuzu Kitchen is clearly achieving its goal.

Julien adds, “Pizzas are delightful on their own or paired with wines. Given our mix of seafood and meat, both red and white wines adapt well to the meal”.

Wine & Pizza Pairing

Rules are meant to be broken so the adage goes, but in general there are some basic rules for pizza and wine pairing. Pizzas usually come with a tomato or white sauce as a base. Tomatoes with their burst of acidity will influence the type of wine you choose to serve, while, in general, a white sauce base should complement most wines. The key here is simplicity. Select a good quality wine (if possible one from the Grand Cru).

Champagne Pol Roger Pure Extra Brut, France: From the House of Pol Roger, this cuvee was launched in 2008. Made from the classic Champagne grape varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, this champagne with its high minerality, citrus notes and clean flavours is extremely versatile and pairs with both tomato and white based sauces. The pure fruit and mineral notes work perfectly with the pizza dough especially “pizza fritta”.

Ferrari Perle 2010 Trento DOC, Italy: Made from 100% Chardonnay, the sparkling wine house of Ferrari produces some excellent wines, and what better than an Italian glass of bubbles with pizza. The 2010 vintage with over 10 years of age has produced a wine of  intense flavours of brioche and toast. This paired well with the rich flavours of the Carrot and Beef Neapolitana Pizza. This sparkling wine will also go with a good salami or tomato based pizza.

Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2019, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand: Cloudy Bay’s Te Koko comes from the older vines planted on the floor of the Wairau Valley in New Zealand. Displaying precision, minerality and freshness, this was a great pairing with the Tomato & Octopus pizza. Whilst you may not think of pairing beef with a white wine, Te Ko Ko also paired well as the Mauritian inspired Carrot & Beef pizza. With a carrot and celery cream, beef salami, pickled carrot and chilli, it was the green chilli and lime paste that brought this pairing together.

Duckhorn Goldeneye 2016, Anderson Valley, USA: This delicate Pinot Noir offering from Duckhorn was displaying rustic elegance with aromas of wild strawberries, confectionery spices and cherries.The Pizza al Padellino is pan-baked and typically found in Torino. With its thick soft crust and  toppings of negitoro, fresh peas and ricotta cream, this pizza paired well with the Pinot Noir which had a bit of age. Coming from the cooler part of the Anderson Valley, this Pinot Noir had depth and complexity but was still restrained and elegant.

Terrazas de los Andes Grand Malbec 2019, Mendoza, Argentina: For those who are not champagne or white wine lovers, a slightly chilled Malbec may be the answer to your pizza and wine pairing. Made from 100% Malbec from three different locations in Argentina, this Grand Malbec was exceptional thanks to one of the best vintages of the decade. Hand harvested with 12 months aging in French oak, this wine was showing intense aromas of raspberries and cherries. The palate was creamy with firm but fine tannins. This wine matched nicely with the meat based pizzas, and serves as a good way to end the meal as it goes well with a cheese board.

Zuzu Kitchen’s Menu

Panuozzo with Panzanella Salad: Panuozzo, a pizza sandwich bread cooked at high temperature is drizzled with garlic nut oil and served with a Panzanella Salad (main ingredients: tomatoes, onions and stracciatella).

Montanara alla Carbonara: Deep-fried pizza dough balls stuffed with carbonara sauce (egg yolk and pecorino only) and topped with some smoked pancetta.

Padellino with Tuna & Peas: Pan pizza baked with furikake inside the dough, topped with truffle ricotta cream, negitoro, fresh peas and wasabi pearls.

Parigina with Prosciutto: A puff pastry pizza (puff pastry on top with pizza dough at the bottom) stuffed with mozzarella and gorgonzola cheese then topped with prosciutto, fresh black berries and tarragon.

Neapolitana Pizza with Tomato & Octopus: Chef Julien’s take on the Neapolitan pizza; the base uses Mauritian tomato chutney (called rougaille). This pizza, topped with fresh mozzarella, confit cherry tomatoes with dollops of saffron mayo, features octopus marinated in a green harissa sauce.

Neapolitana Pizza with Carrot & Beef: Roasted carrots with cherry cream at the base and topped with fresh mozzarella, this Mauritian beef curry is cooked in red wine, cinnamon and cloves and topped with pickled carrot freshly shaved celery, fresh coriander and papadum. Accompanied with a homemade green chilli paste.

Black Sesame Semifreddo: Half frozen Italian ice cream made with black sesame, accompanied with macerated berries and pizza crackers tossed in icing sugar.