Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. As a matter of fact, all over the planet, there are around 350 varieties of it.
And when figuring out which type of wine, whether red or white, will go perfectly well with a particular pasta dish, it’s not the appearance of the pasta you should take into account but the pasta sauce — the base or dominant ingredient.
Generally speaking, pasta dishes with a tomato-based sauce and red meat should be paired with red wine. The same is true for spicy pasta dishes and those with filling ingredients, like pulses. Meanwhile, pasta dishes with cheesy and creamy sauces or with seafood or vegetables pair well with white wine.
Across the globe, pasta dishes are the most popular.
It’s customary, too, for pasta dishes to be served with wine. But don’t reach for just about any bottle of wine the next time you are about to enjoy your favorite pasta dish — opt for one that will complement the sauce, thus making the entire experience elevated and unforgettable. You got two options: red wine and white wine.
Read on whether you are totally clueless as to which type of wine goes nicely with which type of pasta dish or you are second-guessing your initial instinct. Below, we will talk about the best pasta sauce and wine pairings.
Let’s kick things off with this table providing an overview of the entire article:
|SAUCE||PASTA DISHES||WINE TYPE|
|Tomato-based||Puttanesca, paccheri al forno, pasta all’arrabbiata, pomodoro||Red wine|
|Cheese-based||Cacio e pepe, agnolotti del plin, fettuccine alfredo, gnocchi al castelmagno||White wine|
|Creamy||Penne alla vodka, gorgonzola spaghetti, tagliatelle al tartufo||White wine|
|Pesto||Genovese, pesto agli agrumi, testaroli al pesto, lasagne al pesto||White wine|
|Meaty||Sunday spaghetti, lasagna, meatball spaghetti, sabounee||Red or white wine|
|Seafood||Pasta al tonno, spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti allo scoglio||White wine|
|Spicy||Amatriciana, Cajun chicken pasta, chicken riggies||Red wine|
|Vegetable||Ravioli di zucca, pappardelle ai funghi, orecchiette con cime di rapa||White wine|
But different red wines and white wines have different characteristics besides their colors.
For instance, some red wines are light-bodied while others can have so much more alcohol in them. Some white wines, on the other hand, are dry, while others can have so much more sugar content.
And this is exactly why you should not stop reading until the very end of this article in order to have an idea of which red wine or white wine precisely will go perfectly well with the pasta dish you are about to make or enjoy.
Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce: Medium-Bodied Red Wine
If the pasta sauce is red, chances are that it’s tomato-based. The color of the pasta sauce in front of you provides a clue as to which type of wine you should pick: red wine.
Since a tomato-based pasta sauce is acidic, consider having a medium-bodied red wine, which is something that’s capable of matching the natural acidity of the pasta dish. Something that’s not acidic enough or excessively acidic can make the tomato-based sauce seem bland — the goal should be to drink something close to its acidity level.
The following are some of the top medium-bodied red wine perfect for just about any tomato-based pasta sauce:
Castellani Sangiovese 2016
Costing less than $17 per 750-ml bottle, Castellani Sangiovese 2016 has an intense ruby red color that will surely look great right next to a pasta dish with a rich tomato-based sauce. Its flavor consists of a bunch of red fruits with sweet woody notes. Its texture is silky and its tannins are mild.
Dark Wood Red Wine
The moment that you take a sip of Dark Wood Red Wine, your mouth will be immediately filled with the flavors of dark-colored fruits such as blackberries and plums.
Hailing from California, the medium-bodied red wine has the simplicity of having smooth tannins and subtle spicy notes, which is why it goes so well with an assortment of pasta dishes.
Related Article: Best Red Wines for Cooking Spaghetti Sauce
Cheese-Based Pasta Sauce: Floral White Wine
Just about any white wine with a bright flavor and floral aroma is perfect for a pasta dish whose sauce is laden with cheese. It doesn’t matter what cheese is used — white wine will bring out the natural saltiness and creaminess of it.
Generally speaking, white wines have fewer tannins than red wines, which is why one must practice caution when pairing a cheesy pasta dish with red wine — too much tannins can make light cheese taste somewhat chalky and even metallic.
It’s so much harder to go wrong if you enjoy a pasta dish with a cheese-based sauce with white wine.
Here’s a couple of great floral white wines that will help elevate a cheesy pasta creation:
MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019
The moment you uncork MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019, your nose will pick up floral notes of jasmine and orange blossom without delay. It’s not unlikely for it to also detect some tropical fruits such as guava and pineapples.
Produced in California and costing less than $25, many can’t help agree that it’s clean, pure and luxurious.
Kitchen Sink White Reserve
Medium-bodied Kitchen Sink White Reserve is a mix of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Semillon and Viognier, which is why it’s never short of fruit notes through and through. The product is textbook table wine, thanks to its subtle acidity and welcoming hints of peach, lychee and even candied apples.
Creamy Pasta Sauce: Dry White Wine
When cooking a cream-based sauce for a pasta or meat dish, seasoned chefs go for a dry white wine. That’s because it complements the richness and heaviness of the sauce and does not overpower the key ingredients.
Dry white wine is also the perfect companion for a pasta dish with a creamy sauce at the table. Something with an intense flavor can cut through the sauce’s opulent taste and texture without dazing your mouth.
As such, it’s one of the most versatile types of white wine, capable of going well with vegetable dishes and spicy courses, too.
Let’s take a quick look at some dry white wine that will surely go well with a creamy pasta sauce:
Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul
It may have a fruity, ripe citrus flavor alright. However, Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul is far from being sweet, which is why it’s great for creamy sauces. Coming straight from France and costing less than $12 per 750-ml bottle, the product is practically a house wine that will not intimidate tastes and wallets.
Quivira Fig Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2019
What makes Quivira Fig Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2019 pair hassle-free with creamy sauces and also fatty dishes is the fact that it’s bursting with citrus flavors, with fig, raspberry and cherry notes. Its bold and complex aroma and taste will complement rich treats rather than compete against them for the attention of your taste buds.
Pesto Pasta Sauce: Herb-Driven White Wine
There are a couple of things that come to mind when talking about a pasta dish with a pesto sauce: Italian and herby. It’s for this reason exactly why it’s not that difficult to figure out which bottle of white wine in the wine market you should reach for each time the kitchen fills with the unmistakable scent of basil.
Highly recognizable Italian white wines such as Pinot Grigio and Soave are perfect for the job. Something whose flavor can match the herbaceous flavor of pesto sauce is nice, too, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
The following are some white wines that will make your pesto pasta dish experience more complete:
Tesoro Della Regina Pinot Grigio
Since pesto was born in Italy, it isn’t surprising why Tesoro Della Regina Pinot Grigio, which, coincidentally, also originates from Italy, is perfect for just about any pasta dish with a pesto-based sauce. Almost $10 per 750-ml bottle, the dry white wine is a lighter type of Pinot Grigio with bright citrus and green apple flavors.
Suavia Soave Classico 2018
What makes Suavia Soave Classico 2018 perfect for a pesto pasta dish is the fact that it has a fresh herb flavor, too, just like the quintessential Italian sauce. Many will find the lemon-yellow white wine perfect for summer nights or whenever there’s something with a pesto-based sauce around to savor.
Meaty Pasta Sauce: Bold Red Wine or Bright White Wine
When it comes to pairing pasta dishes with wines, perhaps nothing is simpler and quicker than looking for one that will go so well with a meaty sauce. In most instances, all you have to do is determine the meat added to the sauce. If it’s red meat, it’s hard to go wrong with red wine. And if it’s white meat, the way to go is white wine.
However, other key ingredients are considerations, too. For instance, if the meaty pasta sauce is made rich and hearty by tomatoes, a bold type of red wine is the spot-on companion no matter the type of meat.
Below are a couple of wines to consider when on the hunt for something to consume with a meaty pasta dish:
Chateau Saint Roch Roubials Rouge 2017
The boldness of Chateau Saint Roch Roubials Rouge 2017 is what makes it ideal for a pasta dish whose sauce is packed with beef, pork, lamb or veal. It has a smooth texture and a lush flavor abounding with dark-colored fruits such as plums and blackberries, with a hint of muscovado sugar and leafy herbs.
Kia Ora Sauvignon Blanc
A pasta dish with chunks of chicken, turkey or any other white meat is commonly best paired with a bright and fresh-tasting white wine such as Kia Ora Sauvignon Blanc. Coming from the Land Down Under and having a price tag of less than $13, the product has a fruit-forward flavor and a welcoming acidity.
Related Article: Best Red Wines for Cooking Chicken
Seafood Pasta Sauce: Dry and Light-Bodied White Wine
The go-to white wine for seafood pasta dishes is one that does not contain a lot of alcohol and sugar, too. This type of white wine will allow the seafood in the sauce — no matter if tuna, tilapia, scallops or shrimp — to shine without restraint. Meanwhile, its crisp and refreshing quality will prep the mouth for every bite.
Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are some white wines that are immediately paired with seafood pasta dishes or just about any seafood delight — no questions asked!
These are some white wines that should be served together with your favorite pasta dish with seafood:
Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2019
At the first sip, you will notice right away the clean and fruit-forward flavor of Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2019, which is exactly what makes it a must-have if you have a seafood pasta dish to enjoy. From South Africa and costing less than $10 a 750-ml bottle, it’s so light and crisp that it also goes so well with salads.
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio
While it may have an intense aroma of Golden Delicious apples, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio has a surprisingly clean and well-balanced taste. This gives it the versatility necessary for it to be able to be paired with anything from white meat, seafood to vegetables and highly accessible during a planned dinner date or a spontaneous gathering.
Spicy Pasta Sauce: Dry and Sharp-Tasting White Wine
The zestiness of a pasta dish with a hot and spicy sauce can easily be killed by the wrong wine. In order to attain a contrast of flavors that a spicy pasta sauce could use, consider a dry white wine with a sharp taste.
Spearheading the list is Riesling. It has the reputation of being a sweet kind of white wine, which is why you should opt for a dry variety that will not overpower a spicy pasta dish. A popular choice among those who love pasta whose sauce can make them flush is Vouvray, a French wine with complex smoke and citrus flavors and mild minerality.
Just check out the following white wines that you should give a go the next time you whip up a spicy pasta dish:
Relax Riesling 2020
Hailing from the Mosel wine region of Germany, Relax Riesling 2020 is cold-fermented in stainless steel vats, which is what gives the product its refreshingly crisp taste and balanced acidity. It boasts of a fruity flavor with a hint of bright citrus. Budget-conscious? Relax! That’s because Relax Riesling 2020 got your back — a 750-ml bottle is just a little over $10.
Bougrier V Vouvray
Medium-dry Bougrier V Vouvray is ideal for people who want a little sweetness in their white wine. It has a soft cream flavor with some nutty notes, which gives the assurance that it won’t get in the way of the dish it’s paired with, including pasta with a hot and spicy sauce. Produced in the Loire Valley region of France, it’s also superb with cheeses.
Vegetable Pasta Sauce: Dry and Mild-Flavored White Wine
Whether you welcome only vegetarian pasta dishes to your diet or you simply love adding some fresh and crisp veggies to your favorite pasta sauce to give it a healthy spin, a dry white wine with a mild citrus or floral flavor is your best option. French white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are great with vegetable pasta sauces.
On the other hand, full-bodied and excessively savory and sweet white wine varieties can easily obscure the vegetables in the pasta sauce, causing the dish to go from garden-fresh to meh.
Here’s a couple of white wines that will surely delight the vegetable-lover in you:
Olema Sauvignon Blanc Loire 2020
Crisp and light-bodied Olema Sauvignon Blanc Loire 2020 boasts of grapefruit, pear and green papaya flavors. It has a fruity and somewhat herbaceous aroma, which is exactly why it pairs well with a number of vegetarian dishes, including pasta with a vegetable sauce. The white wine’s tangy acidity makes it great not only for sipping but also for cooking.
Rombauer Chardonnay 2020
Take a whiff of Rombauer Chardonnay 2020 and its peach and lemon aroma will immediately remind you of bright sunshiny days. And it’s due to this why it can help elevate vegetable pasta dishes no matter the season. Thanks to the product’s balanced acidity, the bitterness of tannins and alcohol should not get in the way of your vegetarian meal.
Just Before You Enjoy Pasta and Wine
No matter the pasta dish you love making from scratch for your loved ones or ordering for yourself when in a time crunch, you can rest assured that there is a wine that will go really, really well with it.
Which wine you should go for — either red or wine — will depend on the sauce. Identifying the base or key ingredient of the sauce of the pasta dish before you is the first step to take in determining whether you should go for a glass of red wine or white wine, dry or sweet, or one that’s light- to medium-bodied or full-bodied.
But if you don’t like rules, then feel free to go for the kind of wine you like to drink with your favorite pasta dish — any pasta dish. In the end, if the pairing feels perfect to you, then that’s all that really matters!
Read Also: Best Whites Wine for Spaghetti Sauce