Top off the tomato pie with a nice Chianti

Man has been eating pizza in one form or another for hundreds of years, but the first pizzeria in the United States didn’t open until the turn of the 20th century.

Gennaro Lombardi started selling pizza in his New York grocery store on Spring Street in the late 1890s. Lombardi’s paper-wrapped tomato pies quickly became a neighborhood favorite, and in 1905 he was granted a mercantile license to operate a pizzeria.

What began as a humble bread and tomato dish has become a vast canvas for the culinary world. Today, pizza is available fresh at a multitude of pizza eateries and can be bought frozen and in create-your-own kits at the supermarket. Television chefs and cookbook authors like Wolfgang Puck, Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali have devoted shows and cookbooks to the art of pizza baking. Gourmet stores offer pre-made pizzas in seemingly limitless – and indulgent – combinations with toppings such as caviar, truffles, goat cheese, salmon and even foie gras.

Beer has long been the traditional partner for pizza, possibly because it has been a staple offering in pizzerias. But if you consider the broad flavors of wine and the endless possibilities of pizza toppings, it’s easy to see the two are an ideal match.

For meat lovers:

  • Canadian bacon: a Chilean or California cabernet sauvignon, Italian barbera
  • Sausage or beef: Cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel or Southern Rhone syrahs, Australian shiraz or California/Oregon pinot noir

THE VALUES

  • 2006 Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone, France (about $13 retail)
  • 2006 Terra Andina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile (about $12 retail)
  • 2007 Cline Vineyards Zinfandel, California (about $11 retail)

THE SPLURGES

  • 2006 Seghesio Rockpile Zinfandel, California (about $38 retail)
  • 2003 Travaglini Gattinara, Italy (about $45 retail)

For fish and seafood lovers:

  • Sardines, anchovies or mussels: New Zealand sauvignon blanc, Gewurztraminer or unoaked chardonnay
  • Shrimp or lobster: Oaked chardonnay, Italian barbera

THE VALUES

  • 2007 Yalumba Unoaked Chardonnay, Australia (about $12 retail)
  • 2007 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $14 retail)
  • 2006 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $16 retail)

THE SPLURGES

  • 2007 Mud House Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $20 retail)
  • 2005 Chablis Premier Cru Montmain, France (about $40 retail)

For vegetable lovers:

  • Mushrooms or truffles: Barolo, barbera or cabernet sauvignon, Chianti, pinot noir
  • Mixed vegetables: Pinot grigio, chardonnay, Chianti, pinot noir and merlot

THE VALUES

  • 2007 Candoni Pinot Grigio, Italy (about $14 retail)
  • 2005 Luna di Luna Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, Italy (about $10 retail)
  • 2006 Santa Christina Sangiovese, Italy (about $14 retail)

THE SPLURGES

  • 2006 David Bruce Pinot Noir, California (about $45 retail)
  • 2007 La Crema Winery Chardonnay, California (about $24 retail)