Best Wines To Pair With Italian Food

Italy is a hub of cuisine and culture, home to centuries of history, rolling landscapes, delicious pasta, and most importantly, fantastic wine. As the world’s leader in wine production, Italy holds an exalted position in the global wine market and has so for many, many years.

With such rich traditions in both food and wine, it should come as no surprise that Italian food and wine have a close relationship. A meal in Italy rarely goes unaccompanied by a glass of wine, and as such, it’s a good idea to know some basic food and wine pairings.

This article will take a closer look at some of Italy’s favorite foods and what wines make a perfect pairing with each. We’ll look at everything from the best wine with pasta to Margherita Pizza’s wine soulmate!

Grab your fork and knife and snag a corkscrew. Let’s dive into The Best Wines To Pair With Italian Food!

What To Consider

Obviously, there are a multitude of factors to consider when thinking about wine pairings. Between tasting notes, tannins, food flavors, and overall texture, plenty of thought goes into finding the perfect wine to accompany your meal! However, to avoid overcomplicating things, there are a few fundamental facets of wine pairing to think about.

Highlight Both

Though it can sometimes seem like the wine is meant to provide support to the food, you should try to emphasize the flavors of the wine and the food. A good balance will always make the best pairing.

Sour and Salty

As a general rule of thumb, sour or salty food will tend to cut into the strength of wine, making it milder on the palette.

Sweet and Savory

On the other side of things, a sweet or savory dish tends to make wine stronger!

To go more in-depth into the process of wine pairing, check out our guide to wine and food pairing basics!

Pasta Dishes

Good Italian pasta is practically irresistible, and with the right wine pairing, you can elevate any pasta experience. Though the world of pasta is much more complex than this, we split our pasta into two groups; pasta with a tomato-based sauce and pasta with a cream-based sauce.

That’s because our pairings are less about the type of pasta noodle and much more about the ingredients and flavors of the whole dish.

Tomato-Based Sauce Pasta

When dealing with tomato sauce, you’re dealing with primarily acidic flavors. You might not know it, but the best-tasting tomatoes are tomatoes with a high level of acidity and sugar, so any tomato sauce worth its salt will use acidic tomatoes to start.

Knowing this helps to choose a wine, as you’ll want to pick a wine that can match the acidity of the tomato sauce. To that end, we recommend either a nice Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chianti has long been one of the more popular Italian red wines, so it’s no wonder it pairs well with many Italian dishes! Its medium-high acidity and smoky, herbaceous tasting notes make it an excellent match for tomato-based pasta.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a tricky choice, but for the right pasta, your risk will pay off! Your standard Cabernet Sauvignon will be full-bodied and rich, which could be difficult for some pasta dishes to match! However, if you are sitting down to a tomato sauce pasta with meat, this wine might be the choice for you.

Creamy Sauce Pasta

Switching over to the creamier side of things, we have pasta like spaghetti carbonara and fettuccine alfredo. There’s some debate over what wines go best with a cream sauce, but the majority of people will recommend a highly acidic white wine to balance the meal!

For our two favorite creamy sauce wine pairings, we went with Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Both Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are considered medium-body white wines with high acidity and tasting notes that are often complementary to cream and other heavy sauces.

In particular, try an oak-barrel aged Chardonnay to get smoother, “butter-ier” tasting notes that go delightfully with an alfredo. A Pinot Grigio is more likely to cut through the cream sauce than a Chardonnay, but once you try the pairing, you’ll see why it’s one of our main recommendations!

Pizza and Wine

Like pasta, pizza is almost universally beloved, but surprisingly, not many people think to pair pizza with wine! You’re much more likely to find a wine and pasta pairing on most menus, but with pizza’s popularity, we think this is a combination worth exploring.

Most pizzas will follow a similar base structure of red sauce and mozzarella and get creative with toppings, but there are a select few that avoid the red sauce altogether! Margherita Pizza falls under the first category.

Margherita pizza is a classic Italian dish, loved for its simplicity and well-balanced flavors! To pair a wine with this pizza, you need to account for the acidity of the tomato sauce with a medium-bodied, medium-acidity wine. You can usually find this in a light red, like Chianti, or even in a dry Rosé if you really want to take your taste buds for a journey!

To complement a white pizza, there are fewer factors you’ll need to consider, but that doesn’t make your decisions any less important! If you think Pinot Grigio is the best wine with spaghetti carbonara, then you’ll probably enjoy it with a white pizza as well! You might also want to break the bank a little bit and spring for some Champagne or Prosecco, which will add some zest and excitement to the meal.

Wine Insiders: Your New Home for Vino

Wine and Italian food should never be separated, so before you make your next pasta dish, check out our enormous wine selection at Wine Insiders! Our collection features a wide range of bottles from acclaimed wineries and regions worldwide.

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You can also check out our Wine 101 Guides to get any information you could possibly want about the wide world of wine!