Pairing wine with pasta is somewhat of a misnomer as what you are really doing is pairing the wine with the pasta sauce. For the purposes of today’s discussion I will stick to the basics, focusing on five common types of pasta sauce:
- Pesto (herbs)
- Primavera (vegetable)
The tomatoes in these sauces make them high in acidity. Because of this, a relatively tart but not too heavy wine is often best suited for these dishes. If you want an Italian wine, Primitivo, Sangiovese or Chianti would go well. Other options include Grenache, American Zinfandel or a French Rhône blend.
Cheese is very versatile and pairs well with either red or white wine. It is best to pair the cheese with a wine having similar characteristics. For example, creamy cheeses, such as ricotta, will go well with an oaked Chardonnay or Italian Trebbiano. Light body red wines compliment sauces made with hard cheese. Some suggestions are Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Langhe Nebbiolo.
For additional cheese pairing ideas see my blog Cheese Pairings from March 6, 2021.
For everything except tomato-based seafood dishes, a lighter weight, acidic white wine is the ideal choice. Options include Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, Grenache Blanc, Muscadet, Verdiccio or Vernaccia. For tomato-based dishes a Rosé is a good option.
Pesto or Herb Pasta
Although pine nut and basil pesto is probably the most common of the herb pasta sauces, other options include basil and walnut, parsley and pistachio and peanut and cilantro. A white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Austrian Grüner Veltliner would be a good choice.
Primavera sauce may consist of a variety of vegetables such as onions, garlic ramps or artichokes. For non-tomato based primavera sauces, a flavourful white wine is well suited. Options include Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino and Trebbiano di Luana. For tomato-based primavera, follow the suggestions for tomato-based pasta above.