Pairing Wine with Pasta


Are you curious to learn about what wine should be paired with pasta? The secret to wine and pasta pairing is not about the pasta as I learned many years ago when we would frequent a little family-operated Italian restaurant housed in the basement of a social club in our hometown. It was nothing fancy, but the food was simple and delicious!

I recall some advice Etta our waitress and restaurant co-owner gave us – pasta is pasta. It’s not the kind of pasta you choose but what you put on the pasta that makes the difference. Pairing wine with pasta really comes down to the type of sauce that is added to a pasta dish. Here are 5 types of pasta sauce dishes with wine pairing suggestions:

Red tomato-based pasta


Pasta dishes with a red tomato-based sauce can be anything from traditional spaghetti and meatballs to pasta Bolognese, marinara, lasagna, tomato and basil, or pasta with spicy sausage. The tomatoes bring a natural acidity to these dishes and require wines that will complement rather than compete with the acidity.

For lighter red tomato-based pasta sauces, choose a Sangiovese or Nero d’Avola for red wine, or a crisp Pinot Grigio for white wine.

For meatier red tomato-based pasta sauces, choose a Zinfandel or Merlot.

Cheese and green pesto-based pasta


Dry white wines such as Chardonnay or Verdicchio compliment the creaminess and texture of cheese and pesto-based pasta dishes. For red, light to medium-bodied wines will work best. Try a Pinot Noir or Merlot.

Seafood pasta


Pasta with seafood is a Mediterranean staple. These dishes often include clams or mussels, but scallops, shrimp, fleshy fish, crab, calamari and lobster are also popular ingredients. For lighter seafood pasta dishes choose an acidic white wine such as Pinot Grigio, Frascati or a dry Rosé.

For meatier seafood pasta dishes such as lobster, mussels or crab, try a Chablis or Albariño for white wines or a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais for red.

Vegetable pasta


Pasta with vegetables is widely known as Pasta Primavera. This dish often includes garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli, but many chefs will also add seasonal vegetables in this pasta dish.

A light-bodied white wine will complement the melded flavors of the vegetables. Try an Italian Sauvignon Blanc, an Italian Pinot Grigio or a Soave. For red wine pairings, try a Pinot Noir or Barbera d’Alba.

 Creamy pasta


Creamy pasta dishes such as Fettucini Alfredo, Pasta Carbonara or ricotta-based dishes need wines that will balance the creaminess of the dish. Choose a Pinot Grigio, Soave or Chablis for white wines to pair with these pasta dishes. For reds, try a Nebbiolo, a Nero d’Avola or Primitivo.

A big part of food and wine pairings is the enjoyment of trying different wines and foods. There are no hard and fast rules to pairing wines with pasta so don’t be afraid to experiment. Cheers!

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