Top 7 Wines That Make A Perfect Match With Pasta Dishes

Nothing complements a pasta dish like a great wine. Pairing pasta and wine helps to really bring out the flavors of the pasta dish as well as adding a hint of its flavor into the mix. 

Getting the right wine is crucial… The wrong wine could ruin the whole dish by overpowering the ingredients in the sauce. Pairing pasta and wine is an art, an art to balancing flavors.

With so many different types of pasta sauces, it can be difficult to know which wine goes best with which sauce. 

To help you master the art of balancing flavors, this post will give you the top 7 wines that make a perfect match with pasta dishes. 

Other Italian food pairings you may be interested in: Lasagna, pizza or spaghetti.

Top 7 Wines That Make A Perfect Match With Pasta Dishes

Types Of Pasta Sauces 

Before we move on to the wine, let’s narrow down the different types of sauces that can be added to pasta. The most common pasta sauces are tomato-based sauces such as bolognese, pesto sauce, and cream white sauce such as carbonara. 

Top 7 Wines For Pasta 

Cabernet Sauvignon 

Cabernet Sauvignon is much loved for its acidic and savory flavor. Other than its acidity, this wine offers hints of complex flavors with undertones of mint and warm overtones of spice such as coffee and cedar.

This combination of flavors makes for a unique and versatile wine. 

Its high acidity along with its high tannin content makes for a great complimentary wine for a thick tomato-based pasta or a creamy tomato sauce as its acidity complements the acidity of the tomatoes.

Offering a medium to full body flavor, this is also a fantastic wine for tomato-based pasta dishes with meat. 

This wine works well with:

  • Tomato-based pasta 
  • Tomato-based pasta with meat
Delicious Pasta With Red Wine
You want to pair your wine with the type of sauce used in the pasta.

Pinot Noir 

Pinot Noir is considered a light red wine in comparison to Cabernet Sauvignon. It offers fragrant and earthy undertones. This wine offers a rich texture. Its texture in combination with its earthy undertones makes it a great complimentary wine for a pasta dish with mushrooms. 

Its high acidity makes it a great complimentary wine for acidic tomato bases such as marinara sauce. This combination will balance out the flavors in the dish to create a perfect symphony.

Its acidity and tannin also make it a great wine for pasta dishes containing duck, pork, or chicken. 

Pinot Noir is considered to be a versatile wine when it comes to pairing it with pasta. There are fruitier versions of the wine that work well with cream-based sauces and green pesto sauces.

This wine works well with:

  • Mushroom pasta 
  • Cream-based pasta 
  • A pasta dish with pork, duck, or chicken
  • Basil pesto pasta


Zinfandel is rich in color and flavor offering spicy and peppery undertones combined with a hint of berries. Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel has high tannins making it an ideal complimentary wine for tomato-based pasta such as a spaghetti bolognese. 

Zinfandel is available in light, medium, and full-bodied varieties making it a versatile wine for pasta dishes.

The full-bodied one works best for tomato bases, whilst a light version works well with a cream-based pasta sauce or with a light tomato base with meat such as meatballs, sausage, or bolognese.

The peppery undertones of Zinfandel in a light version work really well when paired with a spicy pasta sauce such as arrabbiata or puttanesca as it helps to balance and compliment the flavors. 

This wine works well with:

  • Tomato-based pasta 
  • Light tomato-based pasta with meatballs, sausage, or bolognese 
  • Spicy tomato-based pasta 


Chardonnay offers a delicate, subtle flavor. This is a wine that you need to be careful not to pair with strong flavors as its value will be lost.

Instead, Chardonnay works really well with subtle and light flavors such as light creamy and buttery pasta dishes, or creamy pasta dishes containing seafood. 

Chardonnay offers mild oaky undertones that also work really well with silky, cream-based pasta sauces such as carbonara, or a creamy mushroom sauce. 

This wine works well with:

  • Light creamy and buttery pasta 
  • Mushroom pasta


Merlot is a smooth wine, mild in flavor with a sweet and smooth taste. Low in acidity and tannins, this wine is without bitterness making for a great partner for a tomato-based pasta as there isn’t enough bitterness or zest to complement a creamy base.

This is a wine best kept away from creamy pasta. 

This wine offers fruity undertones such as plum and cherry. This wine can be found either medium or full-bodied. A full bodied Merlot nicely complements a meaty tomato pasta dish such as bolognese as it adds a complementary fruity taste to the rich sauce. 

This wine works well with:

  • Tomato-based pasta 


Riesling is considered a lighter white wine with a distinctive fruity flavor. Highly aromatic, this wine offers fruity and floral undertones with hints of fruity apple, pear, and peach combined with floral notes of honeysuckle.

This delicate and sweet flavor works well combined with the earthy flavor of a creamy mushroom pasta base. 

Its sweetness also works really well with rich, creamy, and spicy sauces such as puttanesca as it helps to mellow the spice of the dish without overpowering it. If you’re looking to make a meaty pasta dish, this wine nicely accompanies additions of pork or chicken.

Riesling’s complex undertones make it a versatile wine that works with a variety of pasta dishes. 

This wine works well with:

  • Creamy mushroom pasta 
  • Cream-based pasta
  • Spicy tomato-based pasta 


Sangiovese offers a mild but noticeable fruity flavor. This wine isn’t quite as strong as the Cabernet Sauvignon but it isn’t quite as mild as Merlot, it stands to be in the boundary of the best of both making it a versatile wine that works with a variety of pasta dishes. 

Sangiovese has high tannin content making it a great complimentary wine for tomato-based pasta as it works to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

Its acidity comes from fruity tones of cherry and violet making it a great choice for dishes such as lasagna and spaghetti as well as basil-based dishes such as pesto. Its fruitiness nicely complements flavors of garlic and basic making for an eclectic and rich flavor overall. 

Sangiovese offers a variety of flavors, some more vibrant and some earthy. If you have a creamy tomato base with mushrooms, an earthy Sangiovese would work really well with it. 

This wine works well with:

  • Basil pesto pasta 
  • Tomato-based pasta 
  • Creamy tomato base with mushroom pasta 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are tannins? 

Tannins refer to the bitterness and dryness of a wine. It’s often associated with the taste of red wine.


So now you have it, the 7 wines that make a perfect match with pasta dishes. It’s safe to say that you now have a clearer understanding of how to match your pasta dishes with the right wine.

Whilst the wine you choose for your pasta dish is down to your personal preference, you now know the art of balancing flavors. With these seven wines and the knowledge of what works well with them, you’ll never go wrong.

Each wine offers a unique flavor with undertones that work to complement specific dishes. You can now enjoy experimenting with flavor combinations with peace of mind. Have a go and switch things up. 

Emma Miller