Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features In the Kitchen Ingredients
Matching Tastes

Matching bouquet and bordeaux with pizza


March 24, 2008
By Canadian Pizza

Topics

A little over a year ago, Ontario-based Topper’s Pizza
launched their specialty pizza and wine-pairing program. Now, several
months later, the program continues with strong results – so strong
that some of their larger competitors have moved towards similar
campaigns.

 toppersmay27-02
Topper’s patriarch Ron Toppazzini, left, and master winemaker Paul Bosc Sr., right, serve up a little lunch to contest winner Rob Delo. The Burlington firefighter was the grand prizewinner of the wine country getaway from the Ontario-based pizza company. 

A little over a year ago, Ontario-based Topper’s Pizza launched their specialty pizza and wine-pairing program. Now, several months later, the program continues with strong results – so strong that some of their larger competitors have moved towards similar campaigns.

For Keith Toppazzini, the idea of pairing certain specialty pizzas with Ontario wines was part of the evolution of customer care.
“We see the trend is moving towards more in-home (dining). We see it already in other areas,” Toppazzini said. “We don’t see ourselves as in the business of pizza, we see ourselves as being in the meal replacement business. In our research and development, we don’t think ‘pizza,’ we think flavour and experience.”

The Topper’s chain celebrated their concept with a customer contest. Recently, winner Rob Delo enjoyed a wine-country getaway with 15 friends and family, complete with a wine tasting, and food-pairing lesson at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s renowned Château des Charmes.

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“The key to a good match is the wine should taste the same before the food and after the food,” said Michele Bosc. The Bosc family has been making award-winning wines since the 1960s.

In presenting proper tasting technique, Bosc said there are a number of steps to determining what makes a good wine match:
1Look at the wine. Hold it against a white surface to analyze the colour. Ever wondered why fine restaurants have white linens? That’s part of the reason.

2Hold the glass by the stem, never by the bowl. That will warm the wine. Twirl the wine around in the glass to release aroma.
3Taste the wine twice. The first sip is meant to coat the palate and prepare the mouth for the full flavour of a fine wine. With the second taste the true flavours will be pronounced. The mouth can assess the weight and texture. “If you can still taste the wine after you swallow, you have a good wine.”

When Topper’s launched their campaign, the initial goal was a trial for a limited time. However, the success has led the pizzeria chain to broaden their matches and include more Ontario wines.

At the launch last October, Toppazzini explained that in developing the wine pairings, the goal was also to cater to the interests and tastes of a segment of their adult consumers who already consider themselves aficionados, as well as drawing a new experience to those who are interested in cultivating a taste for good wines.

Toppazzini has also recognized the potential of co-operative selling. Traditionally, family pizzas have been sold in pairs, with one menu for the adults, and a second for the children. Not to neglect these equally important decision-makers, Toppazzini has suggested some non-alcoholic beverage pairings might make it into the overall strategy.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the family dine-in-home experience. Our goal is to improve the dine-in-home experience, not the dine-out experience.”•


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