There’s a lot of science behind the perfect wine pairing, but it doesn’t have to be fussy. Not a wine snob? We’ve got your back. And possibly your new favorite varietal. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of how to pair wine with the more popular Italian pasta dishes. It’s not so much the pasta you’re pairing the wine with, but the sauce. The ingredients will determine whether you’ll want a light, medium, or full-bodied wine. Use our guide the next time you’re in the kitchen. Whether you crack open the bottle as you cook or save it for the meal is up to you. But we promise you cooking is much more enjoyable with a glass in hand.

Tomato Based Pasta Dishes – Medium-bodied reds

Because of the high acidity in tomatoes, you’ll want a medium-body wine to balance out the sauce. If you’re adding meat to the tomato sauce, you can up the weight to a fuller bodied red.  The darker and bolder the red, the better.

  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
  • Sangiovese
  • Nero d’Avola
  • Zinfandel

Cheesy Pasta Dishes – Full-bodied whites, Light-bodied reds

There aren’t many wines that don’t pair well with cheese, so feel free to be flexible here. A full-bodied white will highlight the creaminess of the cheese like ricotta. Lighter, more floral reds are a perfect balance for a sharp, or intense hard cheese like Parmesan-Reggiano. Try an Italian Pinot Noir with our Simplest Pasta Recipe. Find it here.

  • Trebbiano
  • Chardonnay
  • Nebbiolo
  • Pinot Noir

Seafood Pasta Dishes – Light to medium-bodied whites

Many Italian pasta dishes include seafood like lobster, shrimp, and clams. Being surrounded by the Mediterranean waters deliver only the freshest of seafood that pasta is just begging for.  A lean, acidity-driven, refreshing white wine is the way to go for most pasta dishes. If there is a tomato sauce with your seafood pasta, seek out a rosato, the Italian rosé.

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Verdicchio
  • Picpoul
  • Muscadet

Pesto and Herb Pasta Dishes – Light-bodied whites

For an herb-based pasta dish, find a wine that is equally as herbaceous. A savory wine will do wonders for a dish with greens as the centerpiece.

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Vermentino
  • Gavi
  • Grillo

Veggie Pasta Dishes – Light-bodied whites

The goal of this wine pairing is to highlight the springy freshness of the vegetables. A light-bodied white with lemony and floral notes is an excellent choice for these dishes.

  • Soave
  • Vermentino
  • Trebbiano
  • Greco di Tufo

Meat Sauce Pasta Dishes – Full-bodied reds

For a heartier dish, you’ll want a full-bodied red that can stand up to the meat. Any rich, oaked, or velvety wine will do.

  • Primitivo
  • Sangiovese
  • Barbera
  • Zinfandel

We’re not saying this is the only route to go with pairing pasta and wine. Many roads did lead to Rome after all. Start popping bottles, experiment, and have fun with this!