Meatballs & Wine Pairing

When we think of Spaghetti and Meatballs, our mind automatically races to serving an Italian Red Wine. Heck, even the classic scene from Disney’s ‘The Lady and the Tramp’ features the two dogs eating Spaghetti with the ever-present straw-covered Chianti bottle as a candle holder that could be found in every Italian bistro in the ’60s.

Lady and the Tramp pasta scene

Heck, even recently, Hopper from Stranger Things was seen chugging a bottle of Chianti in an Italian Restaurant called Enzo’s, while he waited for Joyce (played by Winona Ryder)

Wine and Meatballs Pairing

  • Chianti
  • Valolicella
  • Barbera
  • Zinfandel
  • Pinot Noir

Chianti and Spaghetti with Meatballs

There was a reason why Chianti was King way back then in every Italian restaurant, and that is the Sangiovese grape used to make it. Spaghetti and Meatballs often has a red sauce or Tomato based sauce. Tomatoes, which are highly acidic, needs a highly acidic wine to compete with it, or else the dish will come off as flat and metallic.

As you’ve guessed by now, Sangiovese grapes produce highly acidic wines. Sangiovese is also a tannic wine, and the tannin in wine will be tamed considerably from the meat in the meatballs, harmonizing the food and wine combination. When selecting a Chianti, you want a style that is traditional, as more modern versions might be too oaky and soft to compete with the sharpness of the tomato sauce.

Montepulciano and Spaghetti

Montepulciano is another great pick. These young and dry, fruity reds have herbal notes that will complement the oregano seasonings often found in this dish.

Valpolicella or Barbera Paired with Meatballs

Other great Italian reds to pair with Spaghetti and Meatballs are Valpolicella or Barbera. These two reds are somewhat light and have enough acidity to combat the high acidity of the tomatoes. Both of these reds make for great palate cleansers, in that they leave a clean finish.

Zinfandel & Meatballs

If you’re feeling New World, the food-friendly Zinfandel will extremely well with Spaghetti and Meatballs. Zinfandels are fruity reds that marry well with the tomato sauce, and the peppery and spicy notes complement the meat found in the meatballs. A more substantial Pinot Noir will also match up, but stay away from this wine if the dish is heavy in garlic and spicy heat, or else this light wine will whimper.

White Wine with Meatballs

We understand that not everyone enjoys red wine, so if you’re a white wine lover, we recommend either a Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay. This will not be an amazing pairing, however both wines should be able to hold up to a tomato based sauce.

For those interested in learning more about the spectacular world of Italian wines, we recommend the book Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy which is available on Amazon. Lots of great insight inside this tome that brings a lot of clarity to the often confusing world of Italian wines.


Do you have a favourite Meatballs & Wine Pairing? Let us know in the comments below!


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