You don’t need to visit Rome of Florence to know the Italians are the authority on all things pasta. Pasta is a dish that has had a long, deep love affair with wine. Pairing a beautiful wine with a well-executed pasta dish is one of life’s simplest pleasures.
And it’s not difficult either! We’ve split pasta dishes into three categories based on the flavour base of its sauce. There are a few recommended wine varieties that will complement the pasta sauce, and getting it right will truly make for a food and wine match made in heaven.
Tomato-Based Pasta Dishes
There is no better accompaniment to pasta than a rich tomato-based sauce. It is uncomplicated and honest, and a favourite in many Australian homes.
Fresh tomatoes and basil pair well with crisp, dry white wine like Pinot Grigio. Medium-bodied Merlot will also pair well with a tomato-based sauce.
For home-cooked beef lasagna or spaghetti Bolognese, choose a medium-bodied red such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Those with a more resilient palette will find a full-bodied Shiraz will complement these dishes well. Just be mindful of any red wine varieties that are too acidic, tomatoes carry a lot of acidities themselves.
Cream Based Pasta Dishes
Match wines with velvety cream-based pasta sauces such as Boscaiola, Alfredo and Carbonara for a truly luxurious food pairing. The buttery feel of a Margaret River Chardonnay will perfectly compliment any of these pasta dishes.
If mushrooms are a favourite of yours, look no further than fresh, tangy reds like a Sangiovese to highlight the earthiness of the mushrooms in a cream-based pasta sauce. Pinot Noir or a light-bodied Merlot is also a great match for mushrooms.
If your cream-based pasta sauce is dotted with seafood, choose a punchy Sauvignon Blanc or Prosecco to get your taste buds dancing. Seafood also loves a fruity Pinot Grigio with citrus flavours like lemon and lime.
Pesto Based Pasta Dishes
Pesto refers to a sauce that is traditionally made with crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and a variety of herbs. Basil pesto is a common favourite, vibrant, bright green and very versatile. Use with long pasta strands for a hot dish, or stir through cold pasta with vegetables as a summer salad.
The fresh basil and herb base makes pesto pasta a great food match for wine. Crisp, dry white wines such as Verdelho or Pinot Grigio will complement the pesto well while elevating the flavour in these wine varieties.
There is nothing quite like pasta to bring family and friends around a table. The Italians had it right that’s for sure! Large bowls in the middle of the table, big spoons for everyone to help themselves; crusty fresh bread for mopping up sauce and shavings of Parmesan and Pecorino to garnish.
Just the many varied pasta dishes, wine can be subjective. What better way to sample wine with different pasta sauces than with a relaxed dinner party, Italian style?