The Top Wine and Pasta Pairings

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Plate of pasta on a table

From large gatherings over the holidays to intimate, romantic evenings, you can't go wrong with a warm plate of delicious pasta and a bottle of perfectly paired wine. The culinary combination of wine and pasta is a palette pleaser for almost everyone. Pasta can be the foundation of extremely labor-intensive dishes or part of easy classics like spaghetti. Whether the saucy meal is vegan or loaded with meat and seafood, pasta and wine are delightful accompaniments when paired correctly.

Uncork Appropriately

Properly time your uncorking to go along with the cooking of your pasta. Wine pairing with pasta can be served Italian-style as a primo course or as the main entrée.

The key is to think ahead when uncorking. Red wines that have aged eight or fewer years should be aerated for at least an hour or two. Older reds require only about 30 minutes to breathe. Very old reds, whites, rosé and sparkling wines can be opened immediately before serving.

Using a decanter will help bring forward more subtle tasting notes of your wine, as well as reducing sulfides, ethanol and sediment. While the dinner wine is breathing and the pasta is cooking, consider offering an appetizer of caprese bites with a sparkling, crisp white like Prosecco. Have a dark chocolate cheesecake chilling for dessert.

Best Pasta and Wine Pairings

Consider pairing these classic pasta dishes with the following wines:

Pinot Grigio and Pesto

A sufficiently chilled, dry white wine offers a delightful contrast to the herb-forward qualifies of pesto. The high acidity of Pinot Grigio offsets the oiliness of the sauce, cleansing the palette for the next delectable bite. This light-bodied, crisp grape makes for a lovely wine pairing with pasta. Prepare the classic combination of basil, garlic and Parmigiano or try a spin with spaghetti with parsley almond pesto.

Chianti Classico and Baked Pasta

If there's a classic red table wine for a traditional, tomato-based pasta dish, it's Chianti Classico. This dry medium-bodied wine, a blend with at least 80% Sangiovese, goes well with lean beef, spiced lamb and poultry. Gourmet pizza is also a prized addition to an aged bottle of Chianti Classico. Try it with a warming, homecooked favorite, like three-cheese baked pasta. This wine varies significantly based on different vintages and regions, but it is dry with notes of tart cherry.

Pinot Noir and Herbed Meatballs

Angel hair pasta seasoned and tossed lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and roasted cherry tomatoes is an understated and elegant addition to a centerpiece of herbed meatballs. Appease the vegetarians with a vegan "meatball" option, and pair the dish with a full-bodied Pinot Noir. This grape's fruity, leather notes are a sophisticated complement to this satisfying dish.

Chardonnay and Mushroom Alfredo

Oaky qualities of Chardonnay bring out the earthy flavors of mushrooms swirled around a creamy fettuccine alfredo. This wine and pasta pairing can even begin in the cooking phase, by sautéeing wild mushrooms in the wine. The crisp, fruity tones will help to clear the palate of the cream sauce, without making you feel heavy.

Sparkling Rosé and Bowtie Primavera

Nothing says summertime like a Sparkling Rosé wine and pasta pairing of vegetable primavera with bowtie pasta. The flower and citrus flavors of the wine complement the light oils and creams of a primavera. Try a white merlot or a pink Moscato with a plate filled with properly roasted vegetables, wisps of cheese and easy-to-eat bowtie pasta. A crusty loaf of bread rounds out the meal, whether it's a picnic or a celebratory luncheon.

Riesling and Pho

For a noodle-based dish from another part of the globe, turn to Southeast Asia. An unoaked and citrusy Riesling would be a nice addition to Vietnamese pho, a brothy dish of meats, herbs and rice noodles. This sweet wine cuts through the spiciness of this filling street-food soup. Offer chopsticks, a big spoon and plates of fresh basil, bean sprouts and red chilis to your guests, who may be surprised by the German pairing.

Sauvignon Blanc and Shrimp Linguine

Shrimp scampi with linguine is a popular banquet meal that can be taken to another level at a private dinner party when paired with a special vintage Sauvignon Blanc. The garlic and butter sauce comes alive in the company of the dry wine's telltale fruity notes ranging from lime to peach.

Tempranillo and Marinara

While big, deep reds like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons can be too harsh and tannic for tomato sauces, a smoother Tempranillo can please a lover of red wines over a plate of simple pasta marinara made in the style of countryside Italy. Start with a salad of microgreens, fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes, drizzled with a high-quality balsamic vinegar for a refined take on a Sunday afternoon family favorite.

Spumante and Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a hearty favorite, also known as pasta fasul. A traditional Italian soup for cooler weather, it includes either pasta or polenta along with simmering vegetables, beans and a sprinkling of cheese. It goes beautifully with crusty breads for dipping and a Spumante. This aromatic, sparkling wine does the trick to lighten and refine the meal with a finish that is sure to bring smiles any time of year.

Discuss with an Expert

Not sure which wine would be best for a dinner party or intimate affair featuring wine and pasta? The experts with JJ Buckley's wine consultancy service can help you choose the perfect accompaniment to your meal. This free personal wine service is available to offer knowledgeable, impartial advice on the finest wines. These wines are produced in quality vineyards from around the world and available for purchase online to build and grow your wine collection.

Or, if you already know which bottles would work best as a pasta wine pairing, take a look at our wine collection at JJ Buckley Fine Wine. Same-day shipping is available directly to your home, business, or cellar service.