Two part answer.
Part the First: It became a New Haven style pizza when the menu went into great length to describe it as such, and the proprietor and his extended family who all work there are all from New Haven, and they came here expressly to create The Red Grape as a pizza joint that serves New Haven style pizza.
I really don't care what they call it, as long as they keep making it. Damned good pizza, sez I. Their special last month was a Prosciutto, Pear, and Goat Cheese pizza. Wow! When we go to RG now, Roxi mandates that at least one pizza must be the "Mediterranean", and the other can be something else; that's how much she loves the place.
So: free standing offer (and this definitely includes you , Barlettano, because you come to town occasionally), anytime any of the habitues of this place come to Sonoma and want to grab a good pizza and some wine, we'll be happy to join you at the Red Grape. Don't be bashful.
Part the Second:
Good question, Gary.
My 'system' is one I've developed over about 30 years of wine tasting. Mostly as a professional, and mostly in an analytical approach. My initial approach was to learn, and I've always continued to do that. My secondary approach was as a buyer, so I was constantly assessing each wine I tasted. More often than not I was tasting several wines...several different types of wines...at one time, so there was inevitable comparison and contrast. It was also my job to pick the "best", given the choices (best being a variable that was constantly changing: best price, best bargain, best of type, best for a given situation, best for a customer's preference, etc.).
So the philosphy I developed was based on that. Eventually, over time, I developed a mental 'wine library'. I would attempt to classify a wine by those three criteria: the sense of the varietal (or traditional blends), the place or terroir, and a winemaker's or producer's style.
So while the idea of an Ur-Riesling is wonderful and amusing, it's not really what I'm going after, or basing my philosophy on. I think of it as a variety existing in...well, let's use the analogy of a spectrum, like the spectrum of light. Different varieties can show on different parts of the spectrum, but they should remain within the fairly well established range.
I've actually used (and still do) that analogy, by codifying the basic aroma/taste characteristics of a variety and then 'color-coding' those characteristics, linking aromas/tastes to colors in a vertical spectrum. Then I'll have folks taste the wines and see if it corresponds to them on the spectrum. Many newer tasters find this approach helpful, I've found.
So, anyway, now when I taste a wine, I speed through my vast and capacious wine library of sensory experiences for
Variety (Does it taste like a Riesling in general? What fruit is in there: lime, lemon, apricot, orange, honeysuckle, mango? What's the perceptual acidity? Does it have any minerality? So on.)
At the same time I'm accessing that library for
Place (Warm or Cold? Cold place in a warm climate? Hot vintage in a cold climate? Long or short growing season? Good phenolic development? Acidity or lack thereof? Soil---like maybe iron rich versus slate versus sandy loam?)
Winemaker's/Producers's Style (This is a bit more complex, but let's say as a general example, the prevailing style that often dominates a certain region at a certain time, like oaky/buttery Chardonnay in California versus steely/lean Chardonnay in Macon. Another would be perhaps Trimbach versus Zind-Humbrecht.)
To get back to the original Sangiovese that started this thread then, I could discern 'markers' that cried out the 'general terroir' fairly definitely. And being quite familiar with the area and many of the wineries, since I live here, I could understand the stylistic imprint, i.e., what Mike Benziger likes in a wine
. That left me with pondering the Sangiovese-ness of the wine.
And that was the only way, to me, that it came up short of excellence. I think part of it was that the Sangiovese might have been drowned in oak (for me). And it was too high in alcohol (so what else is new). The cherry nature was going over toward jam, and lacked that essential tart zing of fruit that I prefer...so while it was within the spectrum of Sangiovese for me, it wasn't firmly enough in that spectrum. It could've been a spicy Merlot, for instance.
All of this presupposes a vast library of taste references, of course. But that's what I've been doing over the last 30 or so years. And every time I taste I add another "byte" to the file.
You do it, I'm sure, to a certain extent as well. For instance: could you spot a Cline wine in the middle of a crowd? Could you pick out a Turley Zinfandel in the midst of a Bordeaux tasting? Bet you could.
On the other hand....that Ur-Riesling may be out there. So don't stop looking for it. It's a worthwhile search.