Gulp-worthy wines from Ernie Els to enjoy with your next pizza

Who would have thought that the wines of Ernie Els will be pizza-worthy? Let’s face it, when someone mentions the man’s name, words like ”pro-golfer”, ”millionaire”, and ”out-of-price-range” pop into your head. Certainly not pizza, right?

Thankfully the winemaking team over at the golf legend’s wine estate in Stellenbosch produced a lifestyle range we can all afford, called the Big Easy. With prices ranging between R70 and R130 a bottle, it’s the perfect match for the world’s most comforting food.

Before you start picking wines from the Big Easy range to enjoy with pizza, it’s important to answer the following questions:

  1. Is the pizza sauced? With tomato? Or garlic oil? Cream or pesto-based sauce?
  2. Think toppings. If there’s meat, what type is it and how is it spiced? Are there vegetables to consider?
  3. Cheese: fior di latte or bufala mozzarella? Gruyere, goat cheese, blue cheese, smoked Edam? Cheddar?
  4. Once you have the answers to these questions, you can determine the pizza’s driving personality and select a wine around that dominant element.

    The Crust

    You don’t need to worry too much about the crust when you’re selecting a wine, unless it’s popping with personality, like a stuffed-crust pizza.

    The Base

    Tomato based sauces tend to be high in acidity. Pepperoni can be about heat or about salt, while basil pesto adds an sweet herbal accent that needs to be accounted for in your selection.

    The Toppings

    Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza – Wines that would work well with cheesy pizzas would need lower acid levels, since the tomato sauce will contribute plenty of acid on its own, and should carry fruit very forward to conquer the sugar/acid combination of the tomato. Consider a medium-bodied Shiraz-based blend.


    Recommended wine: Ernie Els Big Easy Red 2013 or 2014. Both vintages are superb examples of a lighter style of a predominately Shiraz-based wine.

    Meaty Pizza – If your pizza is topped with mince, salami or ham go for a hearty red like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

    Recommended wine: The newly release Big Easy Cabernet Sauvignon from Ernie Els.

    Recommended wine: The newly release Big Easy Cabernet Sauvignon from Ernie Els.

    Vegetarian Pizza – When it comes to veggie pizza with plenty of peppers, olives, onions and mushrooms, you can’t go wrong with a cool, crisp Sauvignon Blanc with plenty of bright acidity to take care of the variety of veggies. A dry rose wine would also perform well with all of the competing components of flavour.


    The Big Easy Rosé shows a suave, pale pink colour and is produced from 100% Shiraz in a classic Mediterranean style.

    Most importantly, a great wine and pizza pairing isn’t always about the ingredients or what’s in the bottle. Many times it is about who is making the pie and who is drinking the wine that matters more than anything else!

    For more information on the wines and where to stock up, visit