To Italians, pasta is the food of the gods, and there is nothing better to go with a good pasta than a perfect wine. To the uninitiated, finding the right wine to drink with your delicious pasta can seem like a daunting task. However, an expert wine connoisseur understands which wines pair with the right pasta, and you can too.
Choose Your Wine By the Sauce
Wine experts agree that choosing the right wine for your pasta depends on the sauce, not on the type of pasta. A good pasta is defined by a good sauce. Italians spend hours stewing their sauces. For lighter, cream based, vegetable based, or pesto dishes a white wine is the right choice. Heartier tomato based dishes, whether meat or marinara, demand a red wine.
Choosing the Exact Right Wine
Wine drinkers with refined palates will want exactly the right wine for each dish. It is not enough to serve any white wine with any light or cream sauce and any red with any tomato based sauce. Instead, it is important to choose the right white wine and the right red wine.
Cream Based Dishes
A rich cream sauce is fresh and flavorful. Italians are known for their fine cheeses and their fine cream and cheese based sauces. Picking the perfect white wine will take a simple country meal and elevate it into a fine feast. For alfredos, riccotta based dishes like lasagna, or conchiglie a good white wine with some creamy or oaky notes is an excellent choice. Great wines in this category include Trebbiano di Lugana, Sicilian Chardonnay, and Ribolla Gialla.
Italy is surrounded by the sea on three sides, and has many wonderful fishing communities. As such, Italians have created and perfected a variety of seafood based pasta dishes. Experts advise light to middle weight white wines for most seafood based pasta dishes. For pasta dishes with tomato and seafood, a good Italian rosé can elevate this dish and bring out all of its nuances and variations. Good white wines that pair with seafood dishes include Pinot Grigio, Muscadet, and Grenache Blanc.
Tomato Based Sauces
Sometimes all you need is a simple marinara sauce or some freshly stewed tomatoes with basil and other fresh herbs. In these cases a full bodied, hearty red wine can help bring out the deep flavors in this dish and turn a simple meal into a feast fit for a queen. Chianti, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon are all excellent choices for a rich, hearty, tomato based sauce.
Meaty Tomato Sauces
For a heartier, more filling meal, a tomato based sauce topped with meatballs, a hearty ragu that sticks to the bones, or a good Italian sausage is the perfect meal that will leave you sated and content. A great pairing here is Rigatoni with Ragu Baresee and Salice Salentino. The Salice Salentino is a red blend with notes of richness and plenty of tannins that hold up well to the red meat in this hearty ragu.
The more you explore wines and Italian pastas, the better your choices of wine pairings will be. These guidelines are a great start and will help ensure that you have the perfect meal. If you’d like to try a taste of Italian pasta for yourself, visit Italian Garden, an Italian restaurant in San Marcos, TX.