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Pairing Wine with Pesto

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Pesto is an appetizing and sophisticated item that can be used as both a sauce and as a condiment. It is widely enjoyed as a topping for cheeses on a charcuterie board to pasta sauces to bruschetta toppings! It is no wonder it is so popular due to the delicious ingredients of basil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and extra virgin olive oil. 

Also, not surprisingly, there are many wines that can be enjoyed with a dish containing pesto to elevate your dining experience further.  The cheese in this dish would pair well with wines with the intensity to enhance the flavours of the pesto, and with acidity to create balance with pesto’s richness.  It also has lovely herbaceous notes from the basil, which can also be found in wines to make a perfect pairing!

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Pesto

Characteristic Detail
Sweetness Dry
Acidity Medium-High
Tannins Medium-High
Body Medium-Medium Plus
Notes Red and Black Berries, Citrus, HerbsBread and Dairy

Best Red Wine to Drink with Pesto

Despite its short list of simple ingredients, as a whole pesto is quite complex with its herbaceousness, cheesiness and nuttiness. This makes it easy to find red wines to pair with it. It is best to choose a wine that will either complement or contrast these flavours, but with the intensity to match that of pesto.


Sangiovese can be found in many famous wines, such as Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino. It is prized as a food wine due to its high tannin and acidity levels, which create perfect balance with deliciously strong yet delicate foods such as pesto – but without overpowering it.  What is great about Sangiovese is that it has herbaceous notes, which certainly complement those of Pesto. 

Pinot Noir

You will hear Pinot Noir often used to pair with food pairings, and it is because it has delicious red cherry and raspberry notes with high acid and medium tannin levels.  This makes a food friendly wine that will cut through the richness of the parmesan and pine nuts and will cleanse the palace to be ready for the next bite. 

Loire Valley Cabernet Franc

This is an underrated grape variety that is quite food friendly!  These wines from the Loire are cool climate wines, which have high acidity that will balance with the richness of the pesto. Also, what many people do not know is that Cabernet Franc has pyrazine compounds in it, which has herbaceous notes on the palate that will complement the basil well in pesto. Choose one that is young and fresh with primary characteristics (such as fresher fruits) that will balance well with the freshness of pesto.

South African Cinsault

Cinsault from South Africa are known to be round and plush, with ripe fruit flavours that will match the intensity of the bolder flavours of pesto. A range of acid levels will work with pesto since higher acid will complement the citrus notes of the dish, plus contrast with the parmesan and pine nuts. Also, slightly lower acidity will also work very well to match with the richness of these same ingredients.  This makes South African Cinsault and its variety of notes and acidity levels a safe bet to elevate your dining experience when it comes to pesto.

Barossa Valley Grenache

This is a region that is very well known for its old vines. Some are close to 100 years old, creating quite concentrated red wines. Grenache is loaded with red fruit berry notes along with higher alcohol levels that pair well with the strong flavours of pesto.  Many Grenache wines from this region have herbaceous notes like Sangiovese and complements these flavours well in pesto.

Best White Wines To Pair With Pesto

Pairing white wines with pesto is a fun and easy task as there are so many to choose from around the world.  Pesto has parmesan cheese as an ingredient, and there are many wines that undergo malolactic conversion which creates delicious cheesy notes in the wine which are subtle yet detectable.  In addition, many white wines have herb and citrus notes that are complementary with the dish. 


Chardonnay is the grape variety in Chablis. Since this is a cool climate region, the acidity of Chablis is high which makes it a great pairing with Pesto since it complements the lemon notes of the dish. In addition, Chablis is a region where malolactic conversion is common and dairy flavours such as cream and cheese are apparent and will be harmonious with the same flavours in pesto. Chablis can range from more basic Petit Chablis all the way to Grand Cru. All will work. 

Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

In contrast with the Chablis, Chardonnay will have richer and riper fruit characteristics that will balance the intensity of the pesto. These wines are typically lees aged, which give the wine brioche or bread notes, which is commonly served with pesto that make it well paired with the overall dish. The acid level will be lower (around medium-plus), which also works well with the richness of the dish.  The body of the wine is on the fuller side, which also creates harmony with the boldness of the dish. 


Sparkling wine goes well with so many types of food. It is commonly served as a welcome drink or with appetizers, which is where one often finds pesto. The wine’s sparkle will enhance the dish, along with being known to be palate cleansing.  Champagne is also known to have the same bread notes mentioned above due to the mandatory lees aging mandate of Champagne, which will complement that of what the pesto will be served with. Additionally, Champagne often has some nuttiness which of course is a main component of pesto. 

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

This is a herb driven wine, and Marlborough is a region that brings those notes to the forefront more than most.  Since herbs is the main ingredient of pesto, this is a delicious and yet obvious choice. Additionally, these wines are quite intense with fruit flavours due to the long sunshine hours of New Zealand, and therefore are hefty enough to stand up to pesto. 

Rias Baixas

This is a region that specializes in Albariño. These wines are among a wine lover’s favourite due to its citrus, melon and stone fruit characteristics and crisp acidity. The acid levels balance with the richness of pesto, and the intensity of the wine and the dish stand up to each other without one being overpowering.  This wine is also known to be aged on the lees which brings out some bread notes and richness on the palate, which also pairs beautifully with the bread or pasta that pesto is often served with. 

Best Wine to Pair with Pesto

There is an option for every wine lover for pesto. Pesto is a great dish that has herbaceous and citrus notes, which is present in many wines mentioned above.  The bread or pasta that it is usually served with can be complemented by these same notes in the wine as well.  Overall, the best wines to enjoy with pesto are:

  • Sangiovese
  • Pinot Noir
  • Chablis
  • Champagne 
  • Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc