Wines to match different pasta sauces
As you might imagine it doesn’t make any difference what shape of pasta you’re dealing with, what counts with wine is the flavour of the sauce. There are too many to mention, but here are the main types you’re likely to come across.
Personally I like to drink Italian wine whenever possible with pasta as it suits it so well and isn't too full-bodied or alcoholicWith baby vegetables (primavera) or herbs (verdura): try one of the lesser known Italian whites such as Falanghina, Vermentino or Arneis. Or a Loire Sauvignon Blanc.
To offset creamy sauces (eg carbonara, with smoked salmon): Soave, Bianco di Custoza, Pinot Bianco, Sicilian whites and lighter Chardonnay or Chardonnay blends.
Cheese sauces (four cheese, Gorgonzola): crisp dry whites such as Verdicchio, light Chardonnays or light reds such as Barbera d’Asti or Merlot.
Tomato-based sauces include fresh tomato with basil – crisp dry whites such as Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio. Tomato with garlic (napoletana): Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo or a light Sicilian red.
Seafood (spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti with mussels, linguine with crab) need crisp dry whites such as Frascati, Verdicchio, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Muscadet or Picpoul de Pinet. A dry rosé is good too. Crab or lobster sauces can take a fuller white such as a good quality Soave or Chardonnay.
Meat (bolognese, spaghetti with meatballs, sausage-based sauces) is a logical partner for Sicilian and Puglian reds (especially Primitivo), Sangiovese, Rosso di Montalcino and inexpensive Barberas. Zinfandel is good too
With mushroom pastas serve Soave, Bianco di Custoza, Lugana or Chardonnay, or a light Merlot or Pinot Noir.
Dry whites such as Gavi or Soave are best with green pesto - you could also try Sicilian whites, lighter Chardonnays). With red pesto I'd go for a medium bodied red such as Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo, Sangiovese or Merlot. It’s a colour thing as much as anything.
With hot spicy sauces such as Arabbiatta, aglio olio e peperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli) and Puttanesca (anchovies, capers and olives) try either a sharply flavoured dry white wine or a rustic Italian red: a Primitivo or Sicilian red, Zinfandel or Valpolicella Ripasso.
Tuscan reds such as Chianti work well with pasta with beans or lentils (Pasta e Fagioli) or try an earthy, neutral white such as Orvieto or Vernaccia di San Gimignano)
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