7 Best Red Wines for Pasta: Ultimate Pairing Guide (2023)

Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Having tasted various red wines, we’ve discovered ones that pair exceptionally well with pasta dishes. While pasta and wine pairing are sure to go well, there’s a perfect wine for a specific pasta dish.

From velvety Merlots that pair well with tomato-based pasta dishes to robust Cabernets that go well with hearty meat pasta dishes, we’ve curated this wine selection to enhance your favorite pasta dish.

So, if you want to know the best red wine for pasta dishes, keep reading!

Top 7 Red Wines For Pasta

1. Chianti Wine

Bibbiano Chianti Wine Bottle and a Glass

Alcohol Content: 5.5%-23% ABV

Nose: Fruity

Palate: Balanced

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Chianti is a medium-bodied red wine with vibrant acidity and tannins. It’s the best wine to pair with pasta dishes, especially those with tomato-based sauce.

Also, the notes of cherries and earthiness complement spaghetti with marinara or mushroom pasta, creating a delightful symphony on the palate.

“Chianti’s embrace with pasta – a match made in culinary heaven.” – Liquor Laboratory

Our recommended Chianti red wines are Fontella Chianti 2020, Giacomo Mori Chianti 2019, and Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2020.

2. Nebbiolo

Person Holding Oddero 2018 Langhe Nebbiolo

Alcohol Content: 13.5%-15% ABV

Nose: Cherries, Roses

Palate: Complex

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Nebbiolo-based wines provide delicate flavors and robust tannins that pair well with meaty and creamy sauces, enhancing any Italian cuisine, particularly any Italian pasta dish.

Pairing wine with pasta creates a special dining experience, with Nebbiolo an exceptional choice for hearty and creamy pasta dishes. For the ideal wine pairings, try the Italian wine Barolo or Barbaresco.

3. Cabernet Sauvignon

Pouring Bottle of Cono Sur Tocornal - Cabernet Sauvignon on a Glass

Alcohol Content: 13.5%-14.5% ABV

Nose: Dark Fruits

Palate: Bolder flavors

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Cabernet Sauvignon’s bold character complements rich sauce, red sauce, or meat-based pasta dishes such as Sunday Gravy, Lasagna, or Bolognese.

The structure and depth of this incredible wine amplify the dish’s flavors, making Cabernet Sauvignon a top choice for indulging in savory pasta pairings.

The best wines include Penfolds Bin 407 2018, Heitz Cellar 2014, and Château Pape Clément 2016

4. Zinfandel

Woman Holding Bottle of Zinfandel Wine

Alcohol Content: 13.5%-16% ABV

Nose: Berries, Spices

Palate: Vibrant, spicy flavor

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Zinfandel’s lively acidity harmonizes with high-acidity marinara-based pasta dishes and delights like Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce.

The vibrant palate accentuates the flavors in these sauces, mainly spicy pasta dishes. Zinfandel’s medium body shines for meatless tomato-based sauces, making it a versatile and enjoyable wine choice.

Try the Saini Vineyards Zinfandel, Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel, or Turley Juvenile Zinfandel for excellent wine pairings.

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5. Barbera

Alcohol Content: 13%-15% ABV

Nose: Fruity

Palate: Lively

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Barbera’s high acidity and fruit-forward nature make it an excellent choice for pasta pairings. Particularly when paired with cream sauce (even with Parmesan cheese), it’s well-balanced and not overpowering.

It’s an excellent alternative to a light-bodied white wine like Chardonnay since the Barbera wine provides a refreshing profile- a perfect wine pairing to creamy pesto pasta or fettuccine Alfredo.

6. Pinot Noir

Man Drinking Barbera Wine

Alcohol Content: 12%-13.5% ABV

Nose: Red Berries

Palate: Elegant

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: The delicate charm of Pinot Noir (or Pinot Nero) aligns splendidly with any cream-based pasta sauce. The elegant aromas and light body make a good pairing wine with spaghetti cuisine.

For a creamy sauce with mushrooms, Pinot Noir is the right wine choice for its savory character that beautifully complements the cream-based sauce and mushroom flavors, elevating each bite.

Flowers Sea View Ridge 2021 and Marine Layer Lyra 2018 are the best Pinot Noir wines to pair with pasta.

7. Merlot

Bottles of Merlot Wine

Alcohol Content: 13.5%-14.5% ABV

Nose: Fruity

Palate: Smooth, buttery richness

Star Rating: ★★★★☆

Why We Like It: Merlot’s smooth profile complements marinara-based or creamy pasta dishes, contrasting their acidity.

Its versatility shines alongside various pastas (i,e., vegetarian pasta, spicy pasta, seafood pasta, and even zucchini noodles.

“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.” – W.C. Fields, American Actor

For an enjoyable dining experience, pair wine Merlot with dishes like spaghetti marinara or penne arrabbiata, letting the wine’s elegant character elevate the meal.

Note: The star rating is based on their overall quality, taste, and compatibility with various pasta dishes. 


What is the best red wine for pasta sauce?

The best wine pairing for pasta sauce is Nebbiolo or Chianti wine. But you can use red or white wine with pasta, depending on your preference. You can even use different wines, even sparkling wines. But do you know what’s the best red dry wine?

What reds goes best with Italian food?

Nebbiolo is the best wine to go with Italian food. Its Sangiovese base and balanced acidity enhance a wide range of Italian dishes, from pasta to grilled meats, delivering flavorful pasta pairings.

What type of wine do you drink with pasta?

You can drink Chianti or Pinot Noirs for pasta with lighter sauces. Pairing wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo [1] is best for pasta with richer sauces. But you can go for a refreshing white wine, like a light Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc.

What is the best red wine for cooking pasta?

The wine pairings for cooking pasta include Chianti, Nebbiolo, and Zinfandel wines. These wines’ [2] balanced flavors and acidity add depth to sauces without overpowering the dish. For good cooking white wines, go for Sauvignon Blanc.

Why do people drink reds with pasta?

People drink wine with pasta due to the diverse flavor profiles of each wine, complementing various dishes, like seafood pasta and fresh veggies. The acidity, tannins, and fruity notes enhance the flavors, creating a harmonious dining experience.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to excellent wine pairings, Chianti stands out as a timeless companion for pastas.

Its vibrant acidity and versatile character enhance the myriad flavors of spaghetti dishes, from hearty Bolognese to delicate Alfredo. A sip of Chianti elevates each bite, making it a must-try choice.

But we suggest exploring all the good options and letting these perfect pairings transform your meals into memorable culinary experiences!



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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