Pasta Bolognese & Wine Pairings

Bolognese is a thick meat-based red sauce that requires a tannin-heavy red to handle the meat and a balanced acidity to cope with the tomato sauce. If your red wine has no acidity, it will end up tasting metallic and flabby when pitted against an acidic tomato sauce. Our favourite pairings would be Italian reds like Barolo, Rosso Conero, Nebbiolo, Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Chianti Classico, Primitivo, Montepulciano and Barbaresco.

pasta bolognese

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Sauces can vary with Pasta Bolognese, and if the Bolognese sauce isn’t too hefty with the meat, Lambrusco, Barbera, Graciano, Dolcetto, Pinot Noir and Burgundy are also excellent choices that will not disappoint. Should the Bolognese sauce be more weighted toward meat than tomato sauce, feel free to pair up with tannin driven reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Merlot (you really need very little tomato sauce for this to work though).

Dolcetto & Pasta Bolognese Pairing

Dolcetto is an acidic red wine that works wonderfully with the tomato-base of the Bolognese sauce. Meanwhile, the frisky fruit flavours blend well with the beef used in the sauce. Dolcetto is a lighter red, and is suited more towards lighter variants of Bolognese sauce. What we appreciate about Dolcetto as that since it is a bit lighter, the wine is not as filling, meaning you won’t be on the couch snoozing off your wonderful meal an hour after eating.

Chianti Classico & Pasta Bolognese Pairing

Chianti Classico is made from the Sangiovese grape, and is high in both tannin and acidity. The tannin in this wine is instantly smoothed out by the rich meaty flavours, while the acidity mingles in perfectly with tomato sauce. Meanwhile, the wine’s earthy rustic charm follows through right to the finish, along with its juicy red fruit flavours.

Primitivo & Pasta Bolognese Pairing

Primitivo is an easy drinking red with warm flavours of plum, dried cherries, and soft in tannin. Should your Pasta Bolognese be a little heavier in the tomato sauce then meat, then Primitivo is an excellent pairing choice. Primitivo is essentially an Italian Zinfandel with a little more acidity and rustic charm, thus you can expect it complement any earthy vegetables or herbs added to the Bolognese sauce.

In the past, many people found Primitivo too high in alcohol and low in character. As such, winemakers now often age the wine in small oak barrels, which adds a little more tannin bite to help with the meat content of your pasta sauce. If you’re unfamiliar with Primitivo, you’ll have to experiment and do a little research on how your bottle would measure up to this meaty sauce.

Montepulciano & Pasta Bolognese Pairing

Montepulciano is a juicy medium-bodied red wine grape that has a naturally high acidity that makes it perfect with the tomato aspect in Pasta Bolognese. Montepulciano also features robust herbal flavours and grippy tannin that demands the richness of the Bolognese sauce. Montepulciano is a grape, so you’ll find it blended into dozens of types of Italian wines including: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Rosso Conero, Biferno, and San Severo Rosso.

Barolo & Pasta Bolognese Pairing

For this pairing to work, your Bolognese sauce needs to be hefty in terms of its body, or else it will be crushed by powerful punch of Barolo. In most cases, we’d suggest an aged Barolo, which might not be ready for primetime. However, as Barolo can take twenty years to age, a ten year old Barolo just might be the ticket you are looking for (provided your Pasta Bolognese is heavy in its heft – meaning lots of meat and cream).

The earthy truffle-like aromas of the wine blend perfectly with any mushrooms or earthy veggies used in your Bolognese sauce. Additional flavours of raspberry, cherry, cocoa, licorice, and tar add further enjoyment to this pairing. Be aware, however, the analogy of drinking Barolo being similar to being kicked in the face ballerina is no joke, so ensure your Bolognese sauce is heavy on the meat.

For similar reasons, a Barbaresco will work just as nicely.

(out of 5)
Chianti Classico DOCGPasta Bolognese4.5
SangiovesePasta Bolognese4.5
Dolcetto (DOC)Pasta Bolognese4.5
ZinfandelPasta Bolognese4
PrimitivoPasta Bolognese4
Barbera DOCPasta Bolognese4
Rosso ConeroPasta Bolognese4
Barbaresco DOCGPasta Bolognese4
BaroloPasta Bolognese4
Nero d'AvolaPasta Bolognese4
NebbioloPasta Bolognese4
NegroamaroPasta Bolognese4
Cabernet SauvignonPasta Bolognese3.5
MerlotPasta Bolognese3.5


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