Find the ideal combination of wine and food pairings to elevate your dining experience to new heights. Learn which wines pair well with Italian cuisine as well as how to navigate across its regions.
Chianti pairs well with tomato-based pasta sauces. Oaked Chardonnay can complement creamy Italian dishes such as mushroom risotto. Sauvignon Blanc is another light white wine which pairs perfectly with vegetables.
Tomato-Based Pasta Sauces
Tomato-based pasta sauces like pomodoro, marinara or arrabbiata pair perfectly with medium-bodied red wines such as Chianti. The acidity found in wine balances out that of tomato sauce for an enjoyable flavor combination.
Barolo, another full-bodied red wine from northern Italy, pairs perfectly with tomato-based pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas. Its dark red hue and powerful tannins pair nicely with acidity found in tomato-based sauces.
Merlot, an elegant and versatile red wine, pairs well with many Italian dishes such as tomato-based pasta sauces. The wine boasts bold fruit flavors like plum and blackberry.
Pinot Grigio (commonly referred to as "Pinot Gris") is a light and refreshing white wine that pairs perfectly with light Italian dishes like salads, risottos and lighter seafood dishes like halibut, trout and scallops. Its refreshing taste works wonderfully well with their fresh herbs and citrusy flavors.
Cream-Based Pasta Sauces
Chardonnay wine is an ideal accompaniment for creamy pasta sauces such as Alfredo. Boasting flavors like apple, tangerine and melon that work beautifully against its buttery aroma.
Prosecco sparkling wine makes an excellent match with seafood-inspired pasta dishes and lighter risottos featuring seafood or chicken.
Full-bodied red wines like Chianti, Zinfandel and Barolo pair perfectly with hearty tomato-based pasta sauces as well as meaty Italian entrees like steak. In addition to these pairings, these wines also pair nicely with many Italian cured meats like salsiccia and bresaola.
Pesto is an aromatic blend of basil, Pecorino Romano cheese, European pine nuts, garlic and first press olive oil that can be used as an aromatic topping on pasta, pizzas, meat dishes and soups alike. While traditionally it has been associated with Italy as a way of topping pasta dishes with flavorful dishes like pesto.
To create the sauce, crush a clove of garlic in a mortar with a pestle before adding fresh basil leaves, coarse salt and pine nuts for several minutes until everything has been finely ground. After this step is complete, cheese is added along with some lemon juice before finally stirring in garlic and cheese for flavorful flair.
Once complete, the result will be a vibrant green sauce that can either be consumed immediately or refrigerated and covered with a thin layer of olive oil (to prevent it from turning an unsightly brown color). Pesto pairs well with tomato-based pasta dishes as well as any vegetable-based dishes such as sauteed mushrooms or grilled vegetables and potatoes; additionally it makes an ideal pairing with eggs and chicken dishes.
American Italian restaurants typically serve bread with butter or olive oil to dip. But according to local food writer Elizabeth Minchilli, an authentic Italian meal does not involve serving bread as an appetizer before sitting down for their main courses - antipasti, soup and the secondi.
Bread pairs beautifully with rich wines like Chianti. Additionally, it pairs nicely with risotto, salad, and light pasta sauces; furthermore it pairs wonderfully with an antipasto platter featuring meats like salami and prosciutto, pecorino cheese, marinated olives and pickled peppers.
Many regions in Italy produce their own variety of bread. Genoa's famous focaccia, for instance, features just olive oil while Bologna layers theirs with bits of Parma ham and pork sausage. And Naples stands out for producing sweet breads known as SFOGLIATELLAS that resemble bagel shapes but are filled with sweet cream and cherry preserves; these dessert-like offerings go perfectly with an oak-aged Pinot Noir wine which features earthy notes along with fruity cherry vanilla aromas.