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Pairing Wine With Spaghetti

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Spaghetti is an Italian staple. It can be made combined with a huge variety of sauces and proteins, so naturally, it can also be paired with a huge variety of wines. Most pasta sauces are either tomato-based or creamy, so be on the lookout for acidic wines. When pairing with spaghetti, any wine that is too soft will be overpowered by the acidity or fattiness of the sauce. 

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Spaghetti

Characteristic Detail
Sweetness Dry
Acidity High
Tannins Medium
Body Light to Bold
Tasting Notes Reds with fruity flavors, dark and red berries, or crisp whites. Herbal and earthy notes.

Generally speaking, spaghetti dishes are going to contain lots of Italian herbs and flavorings, like basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and parmesan cheese. To complement this range of flavors, you’ll want to get hold of wine that has plenty of herbal and earthy notes, along with strong acidity. They are present in a number of Italian red wines, so we’ll be looking at those. The body of the wine you choose will be dependent on the protein – with spaghetti aglio olio, for example, you can go with a light-bodied white, but for a beefy spaghetti bolognese, you’ll need a fuller-bodied red to match the meat. 

Best Red Wine To Drink With Spaghetti

Generally speaking, red wines will be paired with red pasta sauces. You need a good amount of acidity to stand up to all of the acidity in tomatoes, and a solid structure to work with all of the additional herbs and spices that can be added to a spaghetti dish. 


The entire Sangiovese family are all great options, depending on which protein is in your spaghetti dish. Something like the powerful Brunello Di Montalcino should be reserved for matching the densest meats, but for a bolognese, Chianti or Rosso Di Montalcino will do just fine. This is the perfect grape for drinking with Italian food because it contains hints of Italian ingredients, like oregano and balsamic vinegar. It makes wines that have excellent structure and acidity and will pair with tomato sauce flawlessly. 


Also called Zinfandel, Primitivo is distinctive for being big and bold, but low in acidity. Rather than refreshing fruity tastes, it brings ripe, jammy fruits to the table. These are perfect for pairing with denser, more savory meats, and Italian herbs often bring an earthy quality to tomato sauce, so Primitivos profile will fit right in. Pair it with riper-tasting tomato sauces, like bolognese, ragu or pomodoro. 


Barbera is an extremely low-tannin red wine, full of tart fruit flavors. It is very sippable and very food-friendly, but high enough in acidity to match the tomato and chop through layers of parmesan. It also contains some earthy elements, so it is ideal for tomato sauces with vegetables, or even spaghetti with a creamy mushroom sauce. 

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

Montepulciano is famously food-friendly, a medium-bodied and earthy wine. It is full of flavor, so it can be paired with anything from tangy marinara to a dense red wine ragu, with beef. It has a good amount of acid, which can cut through any amount of parmesan without the risk of getting overpowered, and also contains hints of oregano, which will harmonize wonderfully with tomato sauce. 


Lambrusco is commonly sold in semi-sparkling or sparkling styles, and that’s what we are recommending. It’s a fun, fruit-forward pairing that is versatile enough to go with a variety of spaghetti dishes, from pesto to puttanesca. It is high in acid, but generally medium-bodied, so it may get overpowered by the time you reach denser meats, but otherwise, Lambrusco is a great option to have with lighter spaghetti dishes. 

Best White Wine To Drink With Spaghetti

White wines will generally be paired with cheesy, creamier sauces, but can also go with spaghetti and olive oil, or pesto. Spaghetti dishes without tomato can be on the oilier, fattier side, so you still need a good amount of acidity to cut through this, and spaghetti’s carbohydrates. Stay on the lookout for crisp and fruity white wines, with some herbal notes. 

Pinot Grigio

Aside from its main fruity characteristics, Pinot Grigio has some saline and vegetal notes, which are great for pairing with seafood and vegetarian spaghetti dishes. On top of that, it is refreshingly acidic, ideal for cleansing the palate while enjoying a cheesy spaghetti sauce. If you want something even more acidic, you can go for a French Pinot Gris, rather than an Italian Pinot Grigio. 

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is particularly good for vegetable dishes, as its own vegetal notes highlight the flavors of the spaghetti. You can go for a French style, or a New World style, which is typically more vibrant and fruit-forward. Both styles have plenty of acidity for chopping through creamy white sauces and layers of cheese and oil. There is also the option if you can find it, of an Italy-grown Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli, which will be even tarter than the previous choices. 


Chardonnay, particularly when it is oaked, contains some beautifully buttery and savory notes. It’s the perfect companion for pretty much any spaghetti without tomato. It has enough depth of flavor to cover your cheese, pesto, seafood and vegetable bases. It is particularly good at highlighting the creaminess of white sauces while acting as a refreshing palate cleanser. 


Trebbiano is a delicious homegrown Italian alternative to Chardonnay. It is somewhat similar to a Chardonnay that hasn’t been aged in oak, but even more sharp and incisive. That makes it a great match for oily dishes, particularly aglio olio or spaghetti with pesto, due to its basil notes. It also contains a good minerality, good for pairing with vegetables or mushrooms. 

Pairing Wine With Spaghetti Prepared Different Ways

Spaghetti can be prepared in an endless amount of ways, with a variety of sauces and proteins. There is no one-size-fits-all wine, so you have to tailor it to your dish. This list should cover your main bases, and give a good idea of which direction to head in with your spaghetti wine pairing. 

Spaghetti With Olive Oil

At the simple end of the spectrum, spaghetti is often served as spaghetti aglio olio, which is a delicious dish with olive oil, garlic, basic herbs and perhaps some parmesan. With this, you probably want an equally elegant and incisive wine, such as Pinot Grigio or an unoaked Trebbiano. Sometimes chili pepper can be added, to make aglio olio peperoncino, in which case a Lambrusco or sparkling white would be a good pairing. 

Spaghetti With Pesto

For green pesto, we would opt for a light or medium-bodied white wine, with enough acidity to cut through its oiliness. Consider Trebbiano, or an oaked Chardonnay, which often has a slightly nutty taste, perfect for pairing with a dish with pine nuts. For red pesto, you can go for a Sangiovese, Barbera, or possibly a Merlot. 

Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce

There are a variety of Italian tomato sauces, and you’ll have to think about scaling your wine pairing according to how rich the sauce is.  At the light and tart end of the scale, you have something like marinara, which can go with a highly acidic light-bodied red like Pinot Noir. As you move upwards to salty, rich puttanesca and bolognese ragu, you’ll have to think about bringing out the big guns. Consider a bold Primitivo/Zinfandel, Chianti, or even a Negroamaro or Nero D’Avola. 

Spaghetti With Creamy Sauce

Spaghetti is often served with white, creamy sauces, like alfredo or carbonara. White wines are usually the best bet here, something with a bit of bite to get through all of the fat and carbohydrates. Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice, as is a smooth Chardonnay.To pair Italian with Italian, you can look more specifically for an unoaked Chardonnay from one of Italy’s cool climate regions in the north. They will add even more acidity to the mix and enhance the meal greatly. 

Spaghetti With Spicy Sauce

Spaghetti can also be served with arrabiata, a particularly spicy tomato sauce. The key to managing the spice is to pair it with a sweet and fruity wine. To stay in the red fruit realm, you can go for a frizzante or spumante Lambrusco. For white wines, a Riesling would be a worthy pairing for a hot tomato sauce, due to its high acidity and slightly sweet nature. Sparkling white wine is a good option too, to counter the spice with some playful bubbles. 

Spaghetti With Meat

The meat in spaghetti can scale in body, so you have to scale your wine along with it. For white meat, like chicken, a medium-bodied acidic white such as Chardonnay is perfect. For a rich, beefy bolognese, you have to go all the way up to medium to full-bodied reds, such as Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Chianti or Primitivo. Ground beef or spaghetti and meatballs both go well with full bodied red wines as well.

Spaghetti With Seafood

Spaghetti is often served with seafood, as we can see in a salty, anchovy-rich puttanesca, or a lighter coastal offering, with a white sauce. Light to medium-bodied white wines go well with seafood, being careful not to overpower the delicate flavors. Pinot Grigio is an excellent versatile option, with some complementary saline notes. Muscadet is also a beautiful option. It is less fruity than a lot of white wines with a strong saline element, so it needs to be paired with an elegant and sparsely spiced dish, like spaghetti with clams. 

Spaghetti With Vegetables

To pair spaghetti with green beans, asparagus, or fresh peas, look for a crisp white wine. Sauvignon Blanc seems to be the optimal choice for vegetarian pasta dishes, with its herbal and vegetable background notes and sharp acidity. A Garganega wine, like Soave, is also a great option, as is a slightly smoother Chardonnay, which will go well with creamier vegetable spaghetti dishes. 

Best Wine To Drink With Spaghetti

When choosing a wine with your spaghetti dish, there is a huge amount of wiggle room depending on the ingredients used, so trust your gut. In general, try to pair red wines with red sauces and heavy meats, and white wines with white sauces, vegetables, seafood and white meats. These are some of the best wines that you can pair with pasta: 

  • Sangiovese Wines
  • Primitivo/Zinfandel
  • Barbera
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Sauvignon Blanc

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