When it comes to pairing wine with pasta, the sauce is the defining factor: is it tomato-, cream-, cheese- or seafood-based? As a general rule, tomato-based pasta dishes go well with aromatic, fruit-driven, medium-bodied red wines while cream-, cheese- or seafood-based pasta dishes pair well with full-bodied white wines.
Tomato-based pasta dishes?
This is a perfect playground for aromatic, fruit-driven medium-bodied red wines. Tomato sauce has a lot of savoury flavours, so you want to counteract and compliment this with the fruity elements of the wine. Unoaked Zweigelt from Austria, youthful Tempranillo from Spain which has just seen a lick of oak, or any red that is young with vibrant red and black fruit notes.
Cream- or cheese-based pasta dishes or seafood-based pasta dishes?
Flavoursome and full-bodied white wines like oaked Chardonnay or oaked Viognier will have enough bod or texture to stand up to the richness without taking over. Any white wine with ripeness, roundness and fullness will work well.
I love my pasta with a bit of everything?
This calls for an all-rounder. In this case, I suggest entry-level Pinot Noir, this can be from Burgundy, like Bourgogne Rouge or less well-known appellations like Santenay, Maranges or Givry, or simpler Pinot noirs from around the world. They may not be as polished as their more celebrated counterparts but offer freshness, crunchy fruit and slightly rustic notes that show there is a beauty in imperfection.
Our six golden rules for wine and food pairing can also help you on a more general level.