A hearty pasta dish is the ideal go-to meal when you’re in the mood for a good plate of comfort food. And, what goes better with a plate of warm cheesy pasta than a glass of quality wine?
Everyone knows authentic Italian pasta is best served with a glass of equally tasty wine. You might be tempted to reach for your favorite bottle of wine but, as any wine connoisseur will tell you, the wine you pick makes a huge difference.
Wine Pairings with Your Favorite Pasta Dishes
While wine and pasta are often served together, selecting the wrong type of wine could end up spoiling the entire taste experience! Read on to see why the right pairing is crucial to your flavor experience.
Red vs White – Does it Matter?
If you’re new to wine drinking, you might be wondering what the fuss is about? Surely you can just pair your favorite wine with your pasta dish. Wrong.
Many pasta dishes feature tomatoes as their main ingredient for sauces, it makes the sauce very acidic. Pairing that type of sauce with a wine that doesn’t match the acidity, will leave you with a very bland tasting wine.
Since many white wines have a much lower tannic, their acidity levels are also much lower. For this reason, a medium to full-bodied red wine is a much better option for a tomato-based pasta dish.
With so many red wine options, which would be the better choices? Do different pasta dishes taste better with specific wines? Do overtones and the subtility of notes play any part? Let’s find out.
4 Top Red Wine Choices
Many wine lovers will agree that there are very few meals that aren’t made better with a chilled glass of red wine. And when it comes to pasta, they’d be spot on. Some popular red wine pasta pairings include the following:
Cabernet Sauvignon is by far one of the most popular wines enjoyed by wine lovers around the world. Part of its claim to fame is that it pairs well with just about any dish.
Ordinarily, you can expect a Cabernet Sauvignon to feature a dark, warm, spicy flavor that hints at a mixture of coffee, black currant and vanilla. With its high tannin, it’s the perfect wine to cut through a tangy tomato sauce.
Ideal pasta pairings: Traditional Bolognese or any pasta dish that features a marinara sauce or any significant amount of tomato sauce in the recipe.
Another popular choice for tomato-based pasta dishes is the ever-popular Merlot. It’s an ideal option for people who enjoy a milder wine.
Ideal pasta pairings: Despite being milder than the average wine, the full-bodied version is the perfect partner for meaty lasagnas and Bolognese. Lighter kinds of pasta dishes with bacon or pancetta are better enjoyed with a light-bodied Merlot. Red pesto dishes are also great for pairing.
Experienced wine drinkers enjoy Zinfandel red because it has a high tannin and alcohol level. The superior alcohol content makes it the perfect choice for any tomato-based pasta.
Ideal pasta pairings: With its somewhat spicy peppery overtones, it easily complements any tomato sauce dish. So, aside from being a good match to Bolognese, it’s ideal for any pasta with puttanesca or marinara bases.
If you’re looking for a good red wine that’s not as strong as the much-loved Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese is right up your alley. Known as one of the most food-friendly wines on the red list, it’s an ideal match for any tomato-based dish.
Ideal pasta pairings: Since it shares its robust violet and cherry flavor with vibrant acidity, it adds a complementary taste to any tomato, garlic or basil dish. It’s perfect for Bolognese, meatballs and puttanesca dishes.
4 Popular White Wine and Pasta Pairings
If you prefer a glass of white wine, all this talk about red wine may leave you feeling left out. The good news is, there are a few instances when you can enjoy a glass or two of white wine with your pasta dish.
The rule of thumb is quite simple if your past has a creamy base as opposed to a tomato base, matching the acidity won’t be a problem. Some common white wine pasta parings are listed below.
For wine lovers who prefer a white wine lighter than the average Pinot Grigio, the good news is Pinot Bianco has got you covered!
While not as popular as the Grigio or Gris wines, Pinot Bianco exhibits notes of pear, apple and the occasional smokey flavor. With a light spicy almond aroma, it’s low enough in tannins to be enjoyed with most cheesy pasta dishes.
Ideal pasta pairing: One of the advantages of Pinot Bianco is that it pairs very well with cheesy pasta dishes. It goes a long way toward bringing out the creaminess of the varieties of cheeses that make up pasta sauces. Hard-cheese pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara make the perfect pairing!
If you enjoy a versatile, food-friendly wine, then a good Riesling needs to be on your shortlist. Its aromatic flavors often feature notes of peach, apple and pear.
Ideal pasta pairing: Riesling is the ideal match to any cream-based pasta sauce. Its sweet flavor will accentuate any mushroom-based sauce as well. Dishes include creamy salmon linguine, creamy sausage mushroom rigatoni, tortellini carbonara, traditional macaroni and cheese and creamy spinach and mushroom rigatoni.
Notorious for its fruity flavors like pear, lime, green apple and honeysuckle, Pinot Grigio has a higher acidity making it less sweet than most white wines. This lack of sweet flavor makes Pinot Grigio the ideal pairing partner for lighter pasta dishes.
Ideal pasta pairing: The crispness of this dry white is the perfect pairing with the fresh flavor of seafood pasta dishes. Common pasta pairings include shrimp Alfredo, Italian seafood pasta and linguine with seafood sauce.
One of the most appreciated white wines has to be Chardonnay. Essentially, Chardonnay is a dry, medium-to-full-bodied wine that features moderate tannin and acidity.
Ideal pasta pairing: With its tropical fruit-flavored notes, it’s the ideal pairing for vegetarian pastas or mushroom-based pasta dishes. Dishes that pair well with a good oaky Chardonnay include green pesto and cheese-based sauces, whole wheat pasta dishes and mushroom Carbonara.
The idea of pairing wine with your pasta dish should always be to complement or accentuate the flavor of the sauce. The good news is, whether you’re enjoying a robust marinara or puttanesca sauce, or whether you prefer a seafood or creamy cheese sauce, there’s a wine to create the perfect pairing.
It’s important to remember the rule of thumb: tomato and other high acidic sauces should be paired with medium to full-bodied red wines with a higher tannin. Lighter, creamier pasta sauces are best enjoyed with light, crispy flavored white wines. Create the most exquisite mealtime experience by pairing the right wine with your pasta dish!