Italian Pasta Wine Pairings

When you are looking for wine, it can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many different types of wine from different regions, each with their own flavor notes and aromas.

Italian Pasta Wine Pairings

How do you know which one is going to go best with your pasta dish? 

It is always helpful to remember that what grows together, goes together. This means that wines made in the region that the pasta dish comes from will probably be a good match.

Italian wines tend to go better with Italian pasta dishes than any other types of wine, so if you look for an Italian wine then you will be on the right track. 

If you want to impress your guests or treat yourself to a truly excellent wine pairing, keep reading for some advice on what to choose. 

Basic Wine Terms 

Before we get into the wine recommendations, here is a quick guide to some terms that are commonly used to describe wine. 

  • Acidic – Acidic wines tend to be crisp and refreshing 
  • Body – The body  is the consistency of the wine and how it feels in your mouth. A full bodied wine feels quite thick and viscous. A light bodied wine is more refreshing, and medium is somewhere in between. 
  • Dry – A dry wine has little residual (unfermented) sugar which means it does not have a sweet taste. 
  • Oaked – Oaked wine has been aged in an oak barrel which makes it smooth and adjusts the flavor profile. 
  • Mellow – A mellow wine is smooth and easy to drink, often ever so slightly sweet. 

Should You Drink Red Wine Or White Wine With Pasta? 

One of the most common questions when it comes to wine pairings is whether to choose a red wine or a white wine. It depends on your personal preference and also on the flavor profile of the pasta dish.

Remember that creamy sauces or sauces with a high butter content need something acidic to cut through the richness. Avoid oaked wines as they have a certain creaminess to them already.

Tomato based sauces often pair best with red wine. 

We have included a red wine and a white wine recommendation for each pasta dish. If you are hosting a dinner party then you can offer your guests a choice of red or white, as some people will drink one and not the other. 

Carbonara Wine Pairing

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Carbonara is a rich pasta dish made with cured pork or pancetta, egg yolks, hard cheese like pecorino romano and plenty of black pepper. Some recipes also use double cream.

It is usually made with spaghetti but can also be served with tagliatelle or fettuccine. This dish comes from the Lazio region of Italy.

White Wine Pairing 

Most of the vineyards in the Lazio region are planted with white grapes, and an acidic white wine would be a great choice to pair with carbonara.

A Frascati would work well – a type of white wine that takes its name from a town in the Lazio region just 25km from Rome.

Frascati is light and dry with high acidity. You could also pair it with a pinot bianco which is dry and bright with more body. 

Red Wine Pairing

The most popular type of red wine from the Lazio region is Merlot, but this is not acidic enough to cut through the rich carbonara sauce.

Instead, try a Sangiovese which is dry and medium bodied, or a juicy chianti which has similar characteristics. 

Alfredo Wine Pairing 

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Alfredo is another creamy, rich sauce. It is made out of butter and parmesan cheese, sometimes with the addition of cream, and is often served with fettuccine or tagliatelle.

It also originated in the Lazio region, in the city of Rome. 

White Wine Pairing 

You could pair Alfredo with a Frascati, but it would also work really well with pinot grigio which is dry and light bodied with citrus acidity. Chardonnay is also dry and light bodied but with medium rather than high acidity. 

Red Wine Pairing 

Pinot noir would be the best choice to pair with an alfredo dish. It is fruity and light and will cleanse your palate from the heaviness of the sauce, with a bright flavor and enough acidity.

A chianti would also work well for the same reasons. 

Bolognese Wine Pairing 

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Bolognese is one of the most famous pasta dishes and it is most commonly served with spaghetti. It is made with minced meat, usually beef, in a rich tomato sauce flavored with garlic and herbs.

This dish originated in the city of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. 

White Wine Pairing 

Pignoletto is arguably the most famous wine from the Emilia-Romagna region. It has acidity to balance with the acidity of the tomatoes in the bolognese, but it is a little too citrusy and fresh.

Instead, try a dry sauvignon blanc which is also high in acidity but with flavor notes of apple and grass. 

Red Wine Pairing 

There are lots of red wines that would pair well with bolognese. If you want a wine from Bologna try Rosso Bologna, a blend of merlot and cabernet with a warm, fruity taste.

You could also try a medium bodied merlot or an acidic and full bodied zinfandel. 

Green Pesto Wine Pairing 

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Green pesto is very versatile and can be served with lots of different types of pasta. It is also used as a marinade for chicken.

It is made out of basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil which are mashed into a smooth paste in a pestle and mortar (or a blender). It comes from Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy. 

White Wine Pairing 

Vermentino is the most popular white wine from the Liguria region, which has medium acidity, a light to medium body and a mineral taste with notes of citrus and tropical fruit.

Another great choice would be Sauvignon blanc or an unoaked chardonnay which is nice and crisp. 

Red Wine Pairing 

Rossese is a well known wine from the Liguria region. It is light to medium bodied and acidic with notes of violet and strawberries. You could also go for a herbaceous pinot noir with a bit of spice. 

Cacio E Pepe Wine Pairing 

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Cacio e Pepe is a very simple Italian pasta dish from Rome in the Lazio region. It is usually made with spaghetti which is tossed in a simple coating of parmesan cheese and black pepper. 

White Wine Pairing 

As long as you choose a dry white wine you will have a good pairing. You could go for a pinot blanc, or a dry riesling with notes of apple. 

Red Wine Pairing 

One of the best options is a sangiovese. It is medium bodied with a good amount of acidity and more of a savory flavor than many other red wines. You will notice flavors of sour cherry and red plum along with roasted pepper. 

Frutti Di Mare Wine Pairing 

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Frutti Di Mare means fruit of the sea. It is a pasta dish that is packed with fresh seafood and tossed in a light tomato sauce. It tends to be served with spaghetti and the sauce usually contains a bit of white wine.

The type of seafood used in the dish will depend on where you are and what you can get hold of – the fresher the better! 

White Wine Pairing 

Frutti Di Mare recipes tend to recommend a dry white wine in the sauce, so it makes sense to pair the dish with a dry white wine when you serve it. You could choose a sauvignon blanc with notes of grapefruit and green fruits.

This would be nice and refreshing alongside the seafood. 

Red Wine Pairing 

The best option here is a cabernet sauvignon which has medium acidity and a full body. The main fruit flavors are black cherry and blackberries and you will also pick up black pepper and licorice. 

Arrabiata Wine Pairing 

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Arrabiata translates to ‘angry’. It is a spicy tomato pasta sauce made with garlic and dried red chili flakes along with olive oil. This sauce comes from the Lazio region, in particular the city of Rome. 

White Wine Pairing 

You could choose a Frascati or a Vermentino with this dish. It would also work really well with a Verdicchio which has high acidity and a distinctive almond taste.

If you want something a little less adventurous then you can’t go wrong with a pinot grigio. 

Red Wine Pairing 

You need a soft, fruity wine to go with arrabiata. Nero D’avola would be a great choice with flavors of black cherry and plum. You might also like to try it with a pinot noir. 

Quick Wine Guide 

Here is a summary of the top recommended wines to pair with Italian pasta dishes and their characteristics. 

White Wines 

  • Chardonnay –  A French wine with moderate acidity and a medium to full body. It is dry with flavors of citrus and apple. If it is oaked it has a touch of vanilla. 
  • Frascati – An Italian wine that is dry and light. It has high acidity with notes of tropical fruit and herbs. 
  • Pignoletto – An Italian dry wine with a fresh taste. It is high in acidity with a fruity taste and aromatic notes. 
  • Pinot Bianco – A soft, fresh Italian wine with creamy fruit flavors and a hint of spice. 
  • Pinot Blanc – A French wine that is dry and medium bodied. It has high acidity and a bright flavor. 
  • Pinot Grigio – A French wine with citrus flavors and notes of peach and pear. It is light bodied and crisp and tends to be quite dry. 
  • Riesling – Riesling is a German wine that comes in dry or sweet varieties. The dry riesling is better suited to pasta dishes and goes well with cheese. It has high acidity with zesty flavors and notes of green apple. 
  • Sauvignon Blanc – An acidic wine from France with notes of grass and grapefruit. It tends to be medium bodied and dry with a mineral edge.
  • Verdicchio – An acidic Italian wine with a distinctive bitter almond flavor. It also has notes of citrus with a sweet, marzipan aftertaste. This wine has a complex flavor palate which can make it tricky to pair with food so it is a more adventurous option. 
  • Vermentino – An Italian wine with notes of pear, peach and citrus fruits. It is dry with some mineral saltiness and a touch of bitterness. 

Red Wines

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – A French wine that is known for its full body and dark color. It has medium acidity with flavors of black cherry and blackberries along with licorice, black pepper and vanilla. 
  • Chianti – An Italian wine from Tuscany with high acidity and a medium body. It is a dry wine with an earthy flavor and notes of cherry. 
  • Merlot – A French wine that is smooth and medium bodied – a balanced wine that is good for lots of occasions. 
  • Nero D’Avola – A bold Italian wine with flavors of dark fruits like black cherry and plums (Also check out A Sweet And Simple Guide To Plum Wine). 
  • Pinot Noir – A dry French wine that is medium bodied with bright acidity.
  • Rossese – A vibrant and acidic Italian wine with a medium body and floral notes. 
  • Rosso Bologna – An Italian wine with a ruby red color and a warm, fruity flavor 
  • Sangiovese – An Italian wine with sour notes and an earthy taste 
  • Zinfandel – A Croatian wine with a jammy flavor and fruity aromas. 


Choosing the right wine to pair with your pasta dish can elevate your meal to the next level. It will bring out the flavors in the pasta and dish and complement them to create a taste sensation.

Sarah Perez
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