The 12 Best Wines to Pair with Pasta

Sparrow Italia Staff

10 min read

When done right, pairing wine with pasta can be a delicious experience, but there are certain aspects to consider to get the best possible combination. Before going into those aspects, let's first dive into why people enjoy pairing wine and pasta in the first place. What makes this such a flavourful experience?  There are two main reasons;

1. Wine acts as a flavor boost

The alcohol in wine has a dissolving effect on fats such as olive oil and butter used to prepare pasta sauce. As a result, wine releases the flavors of the sauce making every ingredient taste better.

2. Great food comes with great wine

Italian cuisine is respected globally and traditionally taken with wine. If you wish to enjoy pasta in the best way possible, you need to find the best wines to pair with pasta.

We know firsthand just how a meal can be made that much more special thanks to a good wine pairing, but we also understand that a significant number of people who visit high-end Italian restaurants in Los Angeles such as Sparrow Italia, and wish to enjoy the best-tasting pasta and wine, aren’t master sommeliers. If this sounds familiar then this guide is made for you. This guide is for those who aren’t wine-pairing experts but would love to know the best wines to pair with pasta.

Best wines to pair with Pasta

To answer this question distinctively, it’s important to look at perfect pairing based on factors like region, type, and specific dishes.

I. Pasta and wine pairing by region

Regional wine pairing isn’t a new concept. It is a deep-rooted culinary tradition in Italy. There has been general consensus that Italian food should be paired with Italian wine from the same region as both have evolved to merge perfectly on the table. Since Italian cuisine is regional, wine pairing has generally followed the same cue.

As a result, one of the best ways of pairing pasta and wine based on region is to assess the ingredients that make the pasta and let them guide your choice of wine. For example, wines from Piedmont, Italy where butter “reigns” (not olive oil) work perfectly with a pasta dish with butter as a key ingredient.

In this case, Sparrow Italia’s pasta menu dish - “Lobster Linguini” would pair perfectly with wines from Piedmont, Italy like Damiliano Barbera d’Asti (2019) or II Poggio di Gavi also available at Sparrow Italia.

Pasta like Tortellini and Cappelletti originating from northern Italy regions and made from soft wheat flour among other ingredients like eggs is best paired with wines like Barbera.

In this case, Sparrow Italia’s pasta menu offering dubbed “Bone Marrow 32”, whose main ingredient is Cappelletti, would pair perfectly with Italian red wine like 2020 Barbera d'Alba also available at Sparrow Italia.

II. Pasta and wine pairing by type of wine

Should you pair pasta with white or red wine? Well, it depends! Since most Italian wines are acidic and designed intrinsically to pair with Italian food (having been grown from the same soil), both red and white wine can pair well with pasta. Meaning it will largely depend on your preferences.

However, you should also be guided by the ingredients that make the pasta. Tomato-based pasta pairs perfectly with red wine while butter-based and creamy sauces pair perfectly with white wine.

Below are some popular Italian red and white wines with the respective pasta dishes and ingredients pairing.

White wine and pasta pairing

1. Chardonnay

White wines like chardonnay which are sour to semi-sweet, light or hefty and feature many flavors (tangerine to lime and apple) are popularly paired with pasta served with cream-based and oil-based sauces. Chardonnay will also work with light tomato-based sauces and pasta dishes featuring white meat like chicken and clam meat. You can visit us and try our Chardonnay selection: Chardonnay, Ca del Bosco, Lombardy 115, Chardonnay, Gaia and Rey, Gaja, Piedmont 500, and NONINO CHARDONNAY GRAPPA 14.

2. Pinot Grigio

This classic grape white wine also pairs perfectly with cream-based, oil-based, and light tomato sauces. The wine’s simple but robust flavor will also perfectly complement pasta dishes featuring some bread. Come by and try Pinot Grigio, Vinga del Duline, Friuli 110.

3. Riesling

This sweet white wine features several flavors depending on the region. However, it also pairs perfectly with oil-based and cream-based sauces. You can give this a try with our delicious Riesling, San Leonardo, Alto Adige 140.

Red wine and pasta pairing

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine features a black currant flavor with hints of blackberry and mint. It is derived from a fruit bearing the same name. Cabernet Sauvignon is best paired with pasta featuring red tomato-based sauces to complement the wine’s rich hearty flavor.

2. Chianti

Chianti dry red wine is best known for having a bold taste and color. Chianti Classico wines pair perfectly with red tomato-based sauces. However, they can still work with flavorful white and oil-based sauces. Chianti Classico wines work perfectly with cheese dishes or light salads but are famous as versatile wines complementing just about any authentic Italian culinary experience. Give this a try with our Chianti Classico Riserva, Villa Antinori, Tuscany 86.

3. Pinot Noir

This red wine has several notes including jam, leather, earth, and vanilla that pair perfectly with tomato-based sauces. The wine can also pair with oil-based sauces. You can try our selection of Pinot Noir, Haven Vineyard, Littorai, Sonoma Coast 300 and Pinot Noir, Sandford and Benedict, Racines, Sta Rita Hills 386

4. Merlot

This red wine also pairs perfectly with red tomato-based sauces. Merlot wine has different flavors (plum to violet, cherry, and orange).

III. Pasta and wine pairing based on traditional food ingredients

The traditional ingredients in the pasta dish can also inform the wine choice. Pasta is prepared with many base ingredients, spices, and herb notes that have an impact on different wine varieties over others.

Typical traditional herbs, spices, and base ingredients include:

  • Capers
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Porcini mushrooms
  • Mozzarella
  • Pecorino
  • Starches like pasta, and rice.

Generally speaking, traditional food ingredients typically result in fatty, salty, and/or spicy Italian meals.

Pasta and wine pairing for fatty food

The best Italian wines to pair with fatty food (i.e., pasta featuring a lot of cheese) are highly acidic wines as they cut through the fat like lemon juice and vinegar. The wine will also cleanse your palate and create a better experience. Riesling wine is perfect for pairing with fatty pasta.

Pasta and wine pairing for salty food

Food featuring beef, salt-roast chicken, hard cheese, and other salty ingredients goes perfectly with bold red wines like Chianti as such wine reduces bitter/acidic notes while bringing out a softer tannin impression. Bold red wines also complement strong flavor profiles common in salty foods.

Pasta and wine pairing for spicy food

If your pasta dish is dominated by spicy ingredients like chili, the resulting dish will be spicy and best paired with wines like Negroamaro. The red wine with peppery tones and hints of berries and dark cherries won’t overpower the spicy flavors. In fact, it perfectly complements and adds a unique flair.  Negroamaro will work perfectly for spicy meat-based pasta dishes, you can see for yourself with our 2021 Negroamaro, I Muri, Vigneti del Salento, Puglia 50.

Come try our delicious wine and pasta pairings at Sparrow Italia in Los Angeles

If you wish to have a high-end Italian restaurant dining experience with an extensive selection of wines and delicious pasta specials to pair with, consider visiting Sparrow Italia in Los Angeles. Our restaurant is part of the Noble 33 group with high-end restaurants in major global cities around the world. Sparrow Italia offers classic Italian dishes with a creative Mediterranean twist.

The restaurant prepares freshly made pasta in-house daily and serves some of the best wines to go with it. Sparrow Italia’s wine list contains popular wines from picturesque vineyards across Italy and globally.

Select red wines, white wines, rose, sparkling wines, dessert wines, and more to pair with the restaurant’s pasta dishes including classics like Cacio e pepe, a unique twist of Rigatoni pasta dubbed “Sparrow Rigatoni”, and more! All Sparrow Italia meal ingredients are carefully sourced by renowned executive chef, AJ McCloud.

Book a reservation at Sparrow Italia in Los Angeles and enjoy a world-class wine and pasta pairing experience. The restaurant is at 939 S Figueroa St. Suite 200, LA, CA 90015.

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