Italian food and wine go together for good reason. The beautiful combination of rich, herb-infused, and flavorful cuisine and the correctly aged, and bodied wine create an experience that can’t be beaten. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the cooking and complexity of the wine that can complement each other perfectly. When it comes to Italian food and wine, whether fine dining or casual eating, taste pairing is everything.
Whether it’s pizza, seafood, grilled meat, antipasti, or a time-honored pasta dish of a rich ragu, the right wine can make all the difference in making your meal even better. But with Italian food being so wide-ranging how do you choose the best wine to go with it?
- Comparison Table
- Our Best Wines for Italian Food Reviews and Comparisons
|1. Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rose
|2. Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
|3. La Spinona Bergera Barolo 2013
|4. Whiplash Zinfandel 2018
|5. Colterenzio Sudtirol-Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2019
|6. Flourish Organic Chardonnay 2018
We give you our recommendations and choices to help you when the wine list comes your way or for you to buy for home.
It goes well with savory appetizers, your pasta course of rich Bolognese sauce, and if you’re indulgent/lucky/traditional (delete where inappropriate!), your main course of roasted meat.
Our Best Wines for Italian Food Reviews and Comparisons
1. Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
There’s nothing like a Chianti Classico to pair with your favorite Italian comfort foods. Especially if it’s a reserve, like this 2017 harvest from Volpaia winery.
It has an elegant bouquet, with hints of spice and fruit, and is well-structured with both smooth tannins and a long finish.
- Variety: Sangiovese, Italian Red
- Appellation: Chianti, Tuscany
- Winery: Volpaia
- Alcohol: 14%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
It’s the classic versatility of this one that makes it a winner. Well-suited to pair with pasta, pizza, risotto, chicken and lamb, and more. Drink it now or hold it for a couple of years.
From organically grown grapes, its ripe, rich fruit of berries and cherries are undercut with some lemon and fresh-herb and tones. It’s medium-to-full-bodied with fine tannins and just enough earthy notes.
What We Don’t Like About Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2017
Very pleasant as it is, it may not be quite what you expect from a Riserva.
Perhaps it could benefit from longer than the 24 months aging in oak barrels.
- Paired with a nice charcuterie for the perfect light dinner
- Raisin and straw up front, with a soft and elegant finish
- Rated with 97 points
- No rounded features
- Nice dry Sangiovese, but nothing extraordinary about it
2. La Spinona Bergera Barolo 2013
With the strong presence of tannins and great balance, the persistence in the taste of this ruby red La Spinona Bergera Barolo 2013, will be even greater with patience. If you can hang onto it for a little while before opening it, you’ll reap the benefit. Or at the very least, open and decant at least two hours before serving.
With the versatility to work well with everything from Margherita pizza, through chicken dishes and pork, on to rich and gamey red meats, this is a fail-safe go-to to keep at home.
- Variety: Nebbiolo, Italian Red
- Appellation: Barolo Bergera, Piedmont
- Winery: La Spinona
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About La Spinona Bergera Barolo 2013
This is a nice and complex Barolo that combines elegance and finesse with just the right freshness on the palate. The tannins are suitably refined and acidity vibrant.
On the nose, there’s the flowers of rose and iris, with the spice of menthol, and the earthiness of leather and truffle.
La Spinona Bergera Barolo 2013 offers the taste of wild raspberry and strawberry, star anise, and fresh mint.
What We Don’t Like About La Spinona Bergera Barolo 2013
We’d have preferred slightly higher tannins cutting through the fruitiness.
It’s good, especially for the price, but we’ve had better Barolo.
- Full flavor of red fruits
- Earthy and soft truffle and pepper
- Nice with pizza
- Not for drinking unaccompanied
- Acidic needs food
3. Whiplash Zinfandel 2018
The richer the red sauce you have in your pasta or pizza dish, the more tangy and bold you want your red wine to be.
Whiplash is the stallion whose statue you see both at the entrance of the Jamieson Ranch Winery and on the label of their 2018 Zinfandel.
And it’s as if the maker has tried to capture that powerful and robust spirit. With just the right balance of wildness and elegance of the Zinfandel grapes from the Napa Valley vineyards, which are known for their decadent fruitiness of the varietal.
- Variety: Zinfandel, Californian Red
- Appellation: Lodi, Napa Valley
- Winery: Jamieson Ranch
- Alcohol: 14.5%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Whiplash Zinfandel 2018
Enjoy rich layers of boysenberries, raspberries, and cherries on the nose, with added cardamom and oak spice on the palate.
Whiplash Zinfandel 2018 is an excellent choice for pairing with meat-based dishes, such as Italian meatballs, a zesty pork dish, or a sweet and gamey duck confit.
What We Don’t Like About Whiplash Zinfandel 2018
True lovers of the Italian variety might find this Californian version too sweet and smokey flavored.
Also, take a little care, as it’s high in alcohol!
- Jammy Zin with lots of spice
- Fruity but with a bold peppery touch and velvety after-tone
- Great value for the price
- Too bitter
- Good Zinfandel…by Californian standards!
4. Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rose
For our final choice, we’ve gone with something a little different; a delightfully dry and sparkling rose from the oldest producer in Emilia-Romagna DOC.
Chiarli was founded in 1860, and that 160 years of winemaking experience tells here. Their close attention to every detail matches the quality of their Pinot Noir and native Grasparossa variety grapes from mature vines and 6-month fermentation.
The result is this effervescent Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé with a lovely creamy texture that is perfectly balanced with the acidity of the fruits of strawberries, redcurrants, and cider apples.
- Variety: Grasparossa, Pinot Noir, Italian Sparkling Rose
- Appellation: Romagna, Central Italy
- Winery: Charli
- Alcohol: 12%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rose
This sparkling rose is a beautiful pink color with gentle bubbles, which provide enough personality and liveliness to pair with many foods; pasta, pizza, cured bacon, ham, and other meats. It even goes with fruit salads and richer desserts.
The fresh fruit fragrances, with a hint of mint leaves, makes it especially suited to spice.
Plus, we think that this Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rose is a refreshing and perfect aperitif on its own.
What We Don’t Like About Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rose
Some drinkers might find it too sweet and not balanced enough. And ok, maybe the sparkles are a bit rough.
It depends on what you’re used to. And don’t forget the comparative price!
- Goes well with pork, salmon, and best of all spicy pepperoni pizza
- Dry, but light fruity taste and finish
- A wonderful first wine to begin the evening
- Minimal mousse
- Very harsh feel and aromas of candied cherry and burnt plastic
5. Colterenzio Sudtirol-Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2019
Don’t be a wine snob and be put off by the screw cap. This dry and medium-bodied Pinot Grigio is for drinking now.
Colterenzio Sudtirol-Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2019 should be served just lightly chilled at 10-12° C and is the perfect accompaniment to a variety of dishes. Fresh-grilled fish, marinated seafood salad, a lighter pasta dish, or a chicken escalope perhaps.
- Variety: Pinot Grigio, Italian White
- Appellation: Alto Adige, South Tyrol
- Winery: Colterenzio
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Colterenzio Sudtirol-Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2019
This toned Pinot Grigio gives notes of citrus fruits, peach, and honeydew melon on the nose.
Its pale yellow color is direct and fruity on the palate, packing a punchy flavor of dried apples, pears, and hints of stone. Medium-rich in body, it provides a bright and tangy acidity to finish.
What We Don’t Like About Colterenzio Sudtirol-Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2019
Maybe we weren’t in the mood, or it was the specific bottle, but it was a little too acidy.
Nevertheless, it’s a passable standard Pinot Grigio. Nothing special, but very drinkable.
- Light with lime and fresh grass summer smells
- Has a wonderful mouth feel
- Great value and tasty
- Not very complex
- Too easy-going for some dishes
6. Flourish Organic Chardonnay 2018
Of course, it’s not just Italian wines that match Italian foods. Chardonnay is popular for being paired with oil-based and cream-based sauces, but can also pair nicely with light tomato-based sauces.
This 2018 organic Chardonnay from the Californian Flourish winery is no exception.
- Variety: Chardonnay, Californian White
- Appellation: Mendocino, Northern California
- Winery: Flourish
- Alcohol: 13.8%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Flourish Organic Chardonnay 2018
We believe that good cultivation and stewardship of the land makes for good wine. The purest organically grown grapes of Flourish Chardonnay 2018 helps prove that.
This is a diamond of a Chardonnay, with complex flavors of butterscotch, notes of sweet vanilla, and hints of melon. It’s nicely balanced with firm acidity, whilst being oaky and smooth.
What We Don’t Like About Flourish Organic Chardonnay 2018
We detected a little too under-ripe melon and pineapple on the nose.
It may prove to be spicy ‘hot’ on the backend for many palates.
- Enjoyably drinkable. Crisp and clean
- Smooth like butter
- Great mouthfeel
- Dry with little flavor
- Bitter and boozy
Italian food and wine just go together; like Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini, the brilliant and famous defensive partnership of the Italy national soccer team for so many successful years. Simply, often beautifully, they bring the best out of each other.
The right wine will take your favorite Italian cuisine to a whole new level of flavor and luxury. And with such a wide range of delicious dishes that it has given the World, it’s almost an impossible task to name THE best wine for Italian food. What we’ll say is that the wine that we enjoyed the most was Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rose.
However, don’t be afraid to venture from your favorite wines to try something new and try one, several, or even all (!), of our recommendations above.
Read Related Topic: Best Wine For Bolognese Sauce