Food Pairing: Wines To Pair With Your Pasta
Cooking up a pasta dinner at home? Heading to your favourite Italian restaurant and want a bottle of wine? Here’s a brief guide to pairing wines with your pasta, because hey, 25 October is World Pasta Day! Pairing wine and pasta is more art than science, and depending on what type of pasta you have, you’ll want to choose your wines accordingly.
The first step is to know what kind of pasta you’re having. Pasta on its own does not have much flavour – it’s all about the sauces! Aglio olio is an oil-based pasta, while bolognese or arrabbiata are red, tomato-based sauces. Then there are your creamy white sauces, pesto sauces, and etc. The flavour of your chosen wine must complement the flavour of the ingredients used in these sauces, bringing out more taste rather than masking or overpowering them.
For Red Sauces:
Tomato-based sauces are powerful, relatively high in acid and are often blended with rich meats. Because of the acidity in tomatoes, you’ll want to pair this with a relatively tart red with medium body. As you add more richness (more red meat or cream), you can move up in body. There are many grape varieties and blends that can fill this role – here are a few examples:
Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty much the most sought-after wine in the world. Why? Thanks to its highly acidic and savoury character. Its high tannin content, as well as primary flavours of mint, cherry, vanilla, tobacco, and other overtones like coffee and spice make it great for thicker tomato-based sauces, giving it the harmony it requires. This complex and layered wine is prized for its high tannin content, which makes it perfect for pasta prepared with thick tomato-based sauces.
See all our Cabernet Sauvignons here!
This relatively light red wine goes well with red sauce pasta because of its lighter structure. Its fragrant, earthy character complements lighter tomato-based sauces like marinara and arrabbiata. If you have a richer, creamier pasta sauce, opt for fruitier Pinot Noir (with flavours like strawberry and black cherry) to match the acid. In fact, Pinot Noir is so versatile that you can enjoy it with pesto pastas or mushroom pastas that don’t have much acid to begin with. Since Pinot Noir is also known as the most sensual wine, it’s perfect for a romantic dinner!
See all our Pinot Noirs here!
Zinfandel is known for its rich, darker colour and high tannin content, which makes it highly suitable to be served with tomato-based pastas – think spaghetti and meatballs and bolognese. What’s more, its spicy and peppery flavour with a hint of berries complements red sauces well. Zinfandel is also available in lighter varieties, including a white Zinfandel that can be enjoyed with cream-based pastas.
Buena Vista Sonoma County Zinfandel 2017 ($59)
For White Sauces:
It’s hard to find a wine that won’t pair fairly well with cream and cheese, but if you want to fully bring out the flavours of your white pasta, try some oaky wines to highlight the creaminess. Some lighter and more floral wines are also a good option. Here are a few options to try:
The most popular white wine variety in the world, Chardonnay is easily available in your nearest wine shop or grocer. This famous wine pairs well with pasta dishes prepared with creamy sauces like spaghetti carbonara, mushroom-based pastas, and even vegetarian pasta. The lighter your pasta is, the younger (and hence more lightly oaked) you’ll want your Chardonnay to be, like an oily vegetable or green pesto pasta.
See all our Chardonnays here!
Riesling is loved for its versatile and food-friendly nature. It may have a melony or a tart flavour to it, depending on where it’s grown, and it typically has a highly aromatic hint of apple, peach, and pear flavour. However, you also get the hint of lovely honeysuckle and floral tones which complements cream-based pastas, and also goes well with stuffed and mushroom-based pastas. Moreover, its sweet and spicy flavour makes it suitable for spicy pasta dishes as well.
See all our Rieslings here!
Of course, there are many more wines and their respective pasta pairings out there, so don’t limit yourself to what you’ve read above. As long as you’re convinced that your choice of wine complements your meal, go ahead and pour it!