Wine and Pasta Pairings: What Goes Best With Every Sauce?

pasta pairings


You know, in life, there are a few things that just go together perfectly, like pasta and wine, right? But, as with all good things, there are some unwritten rules to keep in mind when you want to enjoy the best pasta and wine pairings.

Red, White, or Rosé Wine to Pair With Pasta

Selecting the right wine for your pasta depends on the sauce. Red wine pairs with tomato sauces, white wine complements creamy or seafood pasta, and rosé suits lighter sauces. The key is understanding your sauce to find the perfect wine match.

raw pasta and wine

Red Wine with Pasta

When selecting the best red wine to pair with pasta, it’s essential to consider the wine’s “body.” The body of a wine refers to its weight, texture, and mouthfeel, which can be light, medium, or full-bodied.

For heartier pasta dishes with robust, tomato sauces and rich, meaty ingredients, like bolognese, opt for a full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Merlot. These wines have a dense, bold character that can complement the intensity of the sauce.

When it comes to lighter pasta dishes with delicate flavors, like those featuring seafood or mushroom-based sauces, choose a lighter-bodied red wine .

Lighter-bodied red wines, such as Pinot Noir or Sangiovese, have a more delicate and nuanced profile that won’t overpower the dish, allowing the pasta and sauce to shine.

White Wine with Pasta

The choice of the perfect white wine depends on the pasta sauce and ingredients. Light and crisp white wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are excellent companions for pasta with seafood-based or citrusy sauces. These wines complement the fresh, zesty flavors and prevent overwhelming the dish.

seafood pasta and wine

For creamy pasta sauces, such as Alfredo or carbonara, go for a fuller-bodied white like Chardonnay. Its buttery and rich texture harmonizes with the creamy elements of the sauce, creating a luxurious combination.

If you’re enjoying a vegetarian pasta with lighter, herb-based sauces, consider a Vermentino or Chenin Blanc, known for their floral and herbal notes.

Rosé Wine with Pasta

Rosé wines are known for their versatility and they pair beautifully with pasta dishes.

rose wine and pasta

For lighter pasta dishes like veggie pasta or those with seafood, a crisp and dry rosé, such as a Provence Rosé or an Italian Rosé, is a splendid choice. Its acidity and fruity notes complement the delicacy of these dishes.

When indulging in pasta with tomato sauces or vibrant, spicy flavors, a medium-bodied rosé, like a Spanish Garnacha Rosé or an Italian Rosé, can provide a harmonious balance. Its red fruit undertones harmonize with the tomato’s acidity and the spice’s kick.

Creamy pasta dishes, like Alfredo, pair well with a richer and more full-bodied rosé, such as a Rosé from Bandol, France, offering a velvety texture that complements the creamy sauce.

8 Mouthwatering Pasta Wine Pairings

Okay, let’s explore 8 amazing wine and pasta combinations:

Seafood Pasta

The general principle for seafood pasta is to choose a wine that complements the delicate flavors of the seafood without overpowering them.

seafood pasta paired with wine

For a classic and harmonious pairing, consider a crisp and fresh white. A Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio works wonders with seafood pasta. Their citrusy notes and bright acidity enhance the brininess of seafood and the freshness of the dish.

On the other hand, if you prefer a red wine, opt for a lighter one like a Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais. Its subtle fruitiness and gentle tannins can complement the seafood without overwhelming it.

For those who enjoy rosé, a dry rosé, such as a Provence Rosé, is a versatile choice. Its light and fruity character can bridge the gap between white and red wine, making it a delightful option for a wide range of seafood pasta sauces.

Pesto Pasta

If you’re having pesto pasta, choose a wine that complements the vibrant and herbal notes of the pesto sauce.

green spaghetti

For a fantastic white wine pairing, opt for a crisp and herbaceous option such as Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, or Grüner Veltliner. These wines echo the herbal elements of the pesto while providing a refreshing contrast.

If you prefer red wine, go for Pinot Noir. It can enhance the dish without overpowering the pesto’s delicate flavors.

Veggie Pasta

When pairing with veggie pasta, consider a light and zesty white wine option such as Pinot Grigio or a Chenin Blanc. These wines offer a versatile and fresh pairing for vegetarian pasta, complementing the vegetables’ natural flavors and the dish’s overall lightness.

penne with vegetables

If you prefer red wines, go for a medium-bodied selection like a Merlot or a Sangiovese. These wines have enough body to stand up to the pasta’s richness, particularly if it includes tomato sauces or hearty vegetables.


Carbonara deserves a wine that complements its rich, creamy, and savory characteristics. Choose a wine with enough acidity and body to cut through the creamy sauce and enhance the dish’s flavors.

tagliatelle and wine

A classic and popular choice for carbonara is a white wine, and a crisp Chardonnay or a dry Vermentino can be an excellent option. These wines provide a lovely contrast to the creamy, cheesy elements in the dish while offering a refreshing counterpoint. The always versatile Pinot Grigio will work as well.

If you prefer red wine with carbonara, opt for a medium to full-bodied selection like a Pinot Noir or a Merlot. These wines can enhance the dish’s savory notes without overpowering them.

Rosé wine lovers can also enjoy carbonara with a dry rosé. A dry sparkling wine will also pair beautifully with the carbonara sauce.

Spicy Pasta

When it comes to spicy dishes, selecting the right wine can elevate them to a whole new level. The general principle for spicy pasta is to choose a wine that can cool down the heat while complementing the dish’s bold flavors.

hot pepper and spaghetti

For a white wine, opt for a slightly sweet and fruity choice like a Gewürztraminer or a Riesling. These wines can provide a pleasant contrast to the spice.

When pairing red wines with spicy pasta, consider a medium to full-bodied selection like a Zinfandel or a Syrah. These wines can stand up to the heat while complementing the dish’s bold flavors.

For rosé wine enthusiasts, a slightly off-dry rosé, such as a Rosé from Spain, can be an excellent option for spicy pasta. Its mild sweetness can counteract the heat while adding a fruity dimension to the dish.

Mushroom Sauce Pasta

The key for mushroom sauce pasta is to pair it with a wine that complements the earthy, umami flavors of the dish.

mushrooms with tagliatelle

For a white option, consider a medium to full-bodied option like Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris. These wines offer a delightful contrast to the savory, mushroom-rich sauce, enhancing the overall taste.

When it comes to reds, a light to medium-bodied choice like Pinot Noir or a Merlot can be a great fit. These wines harmonize with the mushroom sauce without overpowering its subtlety.

Rosé wine can also pair well with mushroom sauce pasta, particularly a dry rosé with balanced acidity, adding a touch of versatility to your meal.

Meat Sauce Pasta

If you’re having a meat sauce pasta, choose a wine that complements the rich, meaty flavors and balances the dish’s robustness.

red wine with italian food

For a red wine pairing, consider a medium to full-bodied option like a Chianti, a Sangiovese, or a Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines offer the perfect balance to the meaty sauce, with their tannins and red fruit notes complementing the dish’s savory elements.

White wine can also be an option, especially if the meat sauce has a tomato base. A full-bodied white like a Viognier or a Chardonnay can provide a unique contrast, bringing out the dish’s tomato and herbal notes.

Rosé wine enthusiasts can go for a medium-bodied, dry rosé.

Tomato-Based Sauces Pasta

The general principle for tomato-based pasta dishes is to choose a wine that complements the acidity and bright flavors of the sauce.

tomato sauce spaghetti

For a classic wine pairing, white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio are excellent choices. They offer a refreshing contrast to the tomato’s acidity while enhancing the dish’s freshness.

If you prefer red wines with tomato-based sauce, opt for a lighter option like a Chianti or a Barbera. These wines have a pleasant acidity and fruitiness that can harmonize with the tomato sauce.

Rosé wine can also pair well with tomato-based sauces, especially a dry rosé with a good balance of acidity and fruitiness, which can add a delightful dimension to your meal.

Rules to Follow When Pairing Wine and Pasta

Wine and pasta, when paired thoughtfully, can create a harmonious symphony of flavors that elevates your dining experience. The key to a successful pasta and wine pairing lies in understanding how the wine’s characteristics can complement or contrast with the flavors of the dish.

dinner with friends

Let’s expore these essential rules to help you make the most of your wine and pasta pairings:


One of the fundamental principles in wine and pasta pairing is complementing the flavors. This means selecting a wine that shares similar characteristics with the pasta dish.

For example, if you’re enjoying a creamy pasta, such as Alfredo, a white wine with a rich and buttery texture, like Chardonnay, complements the dish’s creaminess and enhances its flavors.

Similarly, if you have a seafood pasta with bright, citrusy notes, a crisp white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, can complement and enhance those flavors. The idea is to find a red or white wine that enhances the key elements of the dish.



On the flip side, contrasting can create a dynamic and exciting pairing. Contrasting wine and pasta involves selecting a wine with different characteristics to balance and cut through the dish’s flavors.

For instance, when enjoying a spicy pasta, a slightly sweet white wine, like Gewürztraminer, can cool down the heat and create a delightful balance.

Red wines can also provide contrast when paired with dishes that are traditionally served with white wines, offering a new perspective on familiar classics.

Place of Origin

The third rule to consider in pasta and wine pairings is the place of origin. The region where both the wine and the pasta come from can offer valuable insights into compatible pairings.


Basically, if you have an Italian pasta dish, such as a classic spaghetti with marinara sauce, consider pairing it with an Italian red, like Chianti. Italian wines tend to harmonize beautifully with Italian pasta dishes, creating a genuine and authentic dining experience.

Or, if you’re enjoying a French pasta dish, such as a rich Coq au Vin pasta, a French wine like Burgundy can create a complementary pairing, celebrating the flavors of the region.


So, the best wine with pasta is, drumroll, please… the one you have on hand! All jokes aside, pairing wine and pasta is an art that combines science and personal preference.

You can choose to complement or contrast the flavors, and pay attention to the place of origin, but the most important rule of all is to savor the experience. Experiment, trust your palate, and explore the vast world of pasta and wine pairings.


What wine pairs best with Italian cuisine?

Italian cuisine offers a wide range of flavors, so wine selection can vary. For hearty dishes like Ragu alla Bolognese, opt for robust Italian red wines such as Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, or Barolo. For a simpler pasta dish like Aglio e Olio (pasta with olive oil and garlic), light and crisp Italian white wines like Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, or Gavi di Gavi complement the flavors beautifully.

What to pair with creamy sauces?

Cream-based sauces benefit from wines with good acidity to cut through the richness. For white sauces (e.g., Alfredo or carbonara), consider Chardonnay or a light bodied white wine like Pinot Grigio. When dealing with red sauces (e.g., tomato-based cream sauces), a light red wine like a Pinot Noir can provide a balanced pairing.

Can I pair pasta dishes with sparkling wine or with rosé wine?

Certainly! You can pair pasta dishes with rosé or sparkling wines, depending on the type of pasta and sauce. Sparkling wines, such as Prosecco or Champagne, work well with lighter pasta dishes like seafood pasta, as the effervescence complements the flavors. Rosé wine is versatile and can pair with a wide range of pasta, especially those with tomato-based sauce, creamy sauces, or light, fresh pasta with vegetables.

Stan Kushkin

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