February 18, 2023 by Arden Montgomery
Best Wine for Pasta
How do you go about answering this question? Both wine and pasta – or rather, the dishes you can create using pasta as a base – are so incredibly diverse and expansive that finding the perfect viticultural match for the right semolina dish feels like an impossible task. The good news is that it’s hard to get it wrong, and foodies may follow their hearts and mouths when choosing a wine to go with their favorite noodle iteration.
For those of you who want a little more instruction, here’s our take.
Food for thought: how to think about pairing wine with pasta
Of course a good pasta is important to creating an enjoyable food-and-wine experience. But what we’re really talking about when we’re wondering how to pair wine with pasta is not which wines go well with boiled wheat noodles, but rather the sauces, garnish, and fillings with which we’ll be decorating those noodles. Although the shape of a noodle can affect how you experience the sauce – distribution, concentration, etc. – and may present another factor.
For now, however, let’s just think about the sauce. Distinctive pasta dishes tend to fall into one of 4 categories, including tomato-forward, veggie-forward (primavera), cheese-forward, seafood-forward, and meat-forward although the latter is often integrated into one of the first two. Depending on how your dish is weighted, you’ll want to reach for a particular bottle that brings out the best qualities of the dish.
- Acidic tomato-based sauces like a medium-bodied red that can both match and break the tang of the zingy red fruit.
- Light and delicate vegetable-heavy pastas prefer something that will uplift the delicate flavors contributed by the plants: roses and white wines on the lighter side of the scale do well in this category.
- For creamy, cheesy, gooey dishes, you want to reach for something that will cut the fat but not become bitter by contrast – these are often fuller whites, and lighter reds.
- Think about wine you drink when you’re eating fruit de mer for seafood-heavy pastas. Like the primavera, your wine needs to avoid overwhelming delicate oceanic flavors. Acidic white wines are a fast friend here.
As a final note, any time you add meat, cream, or cheese to your pasta, the wine you match it with can get a little bigger and bolder to break through the richer flavors.
Critically, remember that the important thing is that you enjoy the experience – these “rules” are meant to guide you towards discovering what you enjoy in a wine and pasta pairing, so feel invited to explore, experiment, and discover. But maybe start with a few of our suggestions below.
Best wine for pasta
- NV Delavenne Père & Fils Brut Tradition Grand Cru Champagne – $50
A new-to-us grand cru champagne with which we are already completely in love. Classically flavored, shimmering and versatile, you can take this for corkage to your fav Italian spot or serve it up casually at a friendly dinner party alongside a cheesy shrimp carbonara.
- 2021 Cantine di Marzo Fiano di Avellino DOCG – $26
This wine is Margaux’s favorite, so you know it has to be good (like, astoundingly good.) It is an education in Amalfi Coast terroir with lemon, green fruits, and a Tyrheannian salinity on the tongue. Pair with a bright, lemony farfalle with peas, kale, grilled salmon, and a healthy grating of fresh parm.
- 2019 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Télégramme’ – $65
Deep, dark, vibrant, and velvety – everything you wanted your goth phase in high school to be. We’ve grown up now and we still paint our nails black from time to time, but this wine bravely carries the fullness of its dark and delicious palate with it into the future – definitely one to age for a little before you pop the cork. When you do, a classic tagliatelle with marinara will be just the thing.
- 2013 Domaine Bohn Alsace Lieu-Dit Schieferberg Dry Riesling – $30
George Clooney was spotted ordering a cacio e pepe, and we can only hope that this was the wine he decided to pair with it because, *mwah*, what a match – like salt-and-pepper on the silver fox celebrity. This mature riesling defies the genre with uncharacteristic but oh-so welcome notes of deep spice and sandalwood.
- 2020 Storm Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc – $26
She’s so dang cute. Grassy, citrusy, and full of sunshine, we can’t wait to take this bottle with us on our next gingham-blanket picnic – maybe to take in the upcoming superbloom? We’re gonna bring with us a frisbee, a Mary Oliver chapbook, and some crab ravioli.
- 2019 Domaine Alain Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Les Champeaux’ Premier Cru – $150
A god among Pinot Noir, this gorgeous bottle exemplifies the varietal operating at peak performance, with utterly delicious results. It’s bold and full-bodied, but oh-so smooth on the finish which is rung in with florals, fruits, and earthen tones. Pair with a rigatoni and rabbit ragu.
Other offerings from Argaux
Suffering from a little choice paralysis? Understandable. Wine and pasta are both incredibly varied and the possibilities seem to go on forever. How exciting! But how daunting, too, if you’re just trying to get dinner on the table and maybe impress your guests in the meantime.
Well, we’ve got you covered, with our Italian Food & Wine Gift Box. This little gift kit comes with everything you need to construct a delicious and perfectly-paired meal featuring quintessential Italian flavors and textures, both in your glass, and on your plate.
The kit includes 1 or 2 bottles of our favorite small-bath Italian wines, artisanal semolina rigatoni (this ain’t your grandma’s boxed spaghetti), an amazing Marinara from woman-owned Ciao Poppy, and organic EVOO from Ceralti to give everything that beloved Italian silk.
This kit is a great way to learn more about pairing wine with a really simple (but absolutely iconic) pasta dish, or as a gift to another wine-loving foodie in your life.