From Cabernet Sauvignon to Chianti, here are some of the wines that will work best with your favorite Italian dishes. With this list, whether it’s pizza or risotto, red sauce or white, you’ll never be at a loss when it comes to serving the perfect complimentary bottle of vino!
FOR RED SAUCES:
Cabernet Sauvignon is the name of both the grape and the wine it produces. The primary taste of this wine is black currant, but other overtones may include blackberry and mint. Cabernets are hearty and rich and go best with tomato-based red sauces.
Italian Chianti is a strong, bold red wine that is perfectly suited for flavorful, well-seasoned sauces. It pairs best with tomato-based red sauces, but also works with cream- or oil-based sauces.
Merlot is not quite as harsh as other reds. This mellow wine with flavors of plums, black cherry, violets, and orange goes best paired with tomato-based red sauces.
Pinot Noir is a light red wine with flavors that include earth, leather, vanilla (from the oak), and jam. This versatile wine goes well with tomato-based red sauces, but also works with cream- or oil-based sauces.
Sangiovese is a hefty red wine that pairs lovely with spicy Italian dishes. Best with tomato-based red sauces, it also works with cream- or oil-based sauces.
Zinfandel is a deep red wine. Spicy and peppery, with a hint of berries or dark cherries, this wine goes best with thick, tomato-based red sauces.
FOR WHITE SAUCES:
Chardonnay can taste semi-sweet or sour, heady or light, depending on where it's grown and how it's processed. Typical flavors are apple, tangerine, lemon, lime, melon, and oak. Like most white wines, it is best paired with cream- or oil-based sauces, but also can be served with a light, tomato-based red sauce.
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris actually are the same white grape, with two different names: In Italy and California, this wine is known as Pinot Grigio; while in Oregon and France, it's known as Pinot Gris. This wine is best paired with cream- or oil-based sauces, but can hold its own with tomato-based red sauces, as well.
Riesling usually is made to be a sweet wine, although it also can create a dry wine. The taste of this wine is affected by where it is grown — Californian Rieslings tend to be dry and have a melon taste, while German Rieslings are more tart and boast a grapefruit flavor. Pair Riesling with cream- or oil-based sauces.
Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc typically is very light. This wine often tastes of grass and apple, and has a soft, smoky flavor. Sauvignon Blancs tend to be crisp and acidic, which make them a nice match for cream- or oil-based sauces.