The Ultimate Guide to Matching Your Pasta with the Right Wine

Ah, the world of wine, so vast, so varied, and sometimes so very intimidating. But fear not, because pairing wine with food—specifically, our beloved pasta—is not about strict rules but rather about finding what you love. So let’s take this one delicious forkful at a time.


Pasta is versatile. From rich and meaty lasagnas to delicate and zesty lemon spaghetti, there’s a pasta dish for every palate. This makes it both a joy and a challenge to pair with wine. But remember: there’s no wrong answer in wine pairing, only better companions. Let’s look at the different pasta dishes and look at the wines what would go well with them.

  1. Tomato-Based Pasta Dishes

Classic spaghetti marinara, Bolognese, arrabbiata

  • Reds: For these hearty dishes, the high acid and medium body of a Chianti or Sangiovese will complement the tomatoes beautifully. Another great option? A Barbera from Piedmont, which offers fruit-forward notes and just the right amount of acidity.
  • Whites: If you’re more of a white wine fan, try a zesty Verdicchio or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
  1. Cream-Based Pasta Dishes

Alfredo, carbonara, creamy mushroom pasta

  • Whites: A rich and buttery Chardonnay will match the creaminess of these dishes. Alternatively, for something with a hint of sweetness, a Pinot Gris might be the companion your pasta’s been waiting for.
  • Reds: While whites usually shine here, a light Pinot Noir can also be an unexpected delight with its soft red fruits and light earthiness.
  1. Seafood Pasta

Linguine with clams, shrimp scampi, seafood risotto

  • Whites: Seafood and crisp white wine are a match made in culinary heaven. A mineral-driven Albariño or a vibrant Vermentino will emphasize the fresh flavors of the sea.
  • Sparkling: Yes, bubbles! A Prosecco or Cava can add that extra bit of zest, making your seafood pasta truly pop.
  1. Pesto and Vegetable Pastas

Pesto Genovese, primavera, aglio e olio

  • Whites: A herbal Sauvignon Blanc or aromatic Grüner Veltliner can play up the green, fresh flavors of these dishes.
  • Reds: If you’re convinced red is the way, a Dolcetto or a young Beaujolais will be light and fruity enough to not overpower the veggies.
  1. Spicy Pasta Dishes

Pasta puttanesca, spicy sausage pasta

  • Reds: You’ll want a red with a bit of oomph. Zinfandel, with its ripe fruitiness and spice, can be an excellent partner for these fiery dishes.
  • Whites: A slightly off-dry Gewürztraminer or Riesling can soothe the heat and bring out the best in spicy pasta.

The Universal Pasta Pair: Rosé. When in doubt, a dry rosé wine is versatile enough to pair with a wide variety of pasta dishes. Its balance of acidity, fruit, and often subtle herbaceous notes can dance gracefully with many a pasta partner.

Tips to Remember:

  • Match Intensity: A robust wine will drown a delicate dish, and a subtle wine can be overpowered by strong flavors. If your pasta is rich and bold, go for a bold wine. If it’s light and subtle, opt for a lighter wine.
  • Acidity is your friend: Especially with tomato-based dishes, a wine with good acidity (like many Italian reds) can elevate your dish.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment: Wine and food pairing is subjective. What works for one person might not for another. So play around and find your perfect match!
  • Think regionally: When in doubt, pairing wines and foods from the same region can be a good starting point. After all, what grows together, goes together!

In the end, the best wine for your pasta is the wine you love to drink. So uncork, unwind, and enjoy every sip and bite.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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