The best tip on pairing wine with pasta is to ignore the pasta and pay attention to the sauce. Pasta is simply a canvas to deliver the accompanying ingredients. Wellness trends come and go, but pasta is forever. Whether you’re a linguine-with-clams loyalist or lifelong rigatoni fan, these pairings will keep hearts happy and glasses filled. If you want to create a pasta meal to remember, the right wine choice can do you a lot of good.

Pasta and wine pairing chart

Tomato Based Pasta + Medium-Bodied Red Wines

Tomato-based sauces are powerful, high acid and are often blended with rich, red meats. Because of the acidity in tomatoes, a relatively tart red with a middle-weight body is your best option. As much as this sounds limiting, there are a ton of different grape varieties (and blends) that will happily fill this role. As you add more richness (meat, cream) you can move up in body, but definitely, keep the fresh acid!

Cheese Pasta + Light-Bodied Red Wines

It’s hard to find a wine that won’t pair fairly well with cheese, so instead, think of this pasta style as an opportunity to try some of the more texture-based, nuanced pairings. For example, a white wine with some creaminess to it, like a Chardonnay, is going to create a congruent pairing and highlight the creaminess in the cheese (think ricotta!). Also, lighter more floral red wines are another awesome pairing partner with tart, intense hard-cheese pasta, especially if there are mushrooms or root vegetables involved in the sauce.

Seafood Pasta + Medium-Bodied White Wines

Naturally, medium-bodied white wines are the way to go for most seafood based pasta. One of the most enjoyable, and simple, pasta dishes is spaghetti with prawns, chilli and garlic. This fresh, flavoursome combination comes alive with crisp white wines like Pinot Grigio (that old favourite again!).

Pesto Pasta + Light-Bodied White Wines

While most of us are familiar with the classic pine nut and basil pesto, you can really make pesto with whatever greens and nut pairing you desire: basil-walnut, parsley-pistachio, peanut-cilantro, hazelnut-mint… you get the idea. The real trick to matching these different pestos with wine is by simply acknowledging the green is the centrepiece of the dish. For the most part, you’ll find that herbaceous wines are best suited.

Vegetable Pasta + Light-Bodied White Wines

Spring onions, garlic ramps, artichoke and broccolini often create the backbone of a great primavera, although anything fresh and seasonal will do. The goal of this dish is to really highlight the springy freshness of all the veggies, which is why a light-bodied white wine with floral notes is a great choice. Of course, a well-prepared primavera has major vegetable intensity, so it will need an equally savoury white wine.

This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on WineFolly.