Pesto Wine Pairing Guide: Best Matches for Every Dish

pesto wine pairing
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So you’re making an amazing pesto dish, and are ready to find the best pesto wine pairing – don’t worry we’ve got you covered!

Pesto, with its vibrant green color and rich, nutty flavor, is a staple in many kitchens. It’s versatile, easy to whip up, and can transform a simple dish into something extraordinary. But have you ever thought about which wine to pair with your pesto dishes? The right wine can elevate your meal to a whole new level.

Finding the perfect wine to complement the bold flavors of pesto is a great idea. Whether it’s a classic basil pesto or something more adventurous like arugula or sun-dried tomato, there’s a wine out there that’s the perfect match. Let’s check out of picks for pesto wine pairing and discover how to enhance your next pesto-infused meal.

What kind of wine goes with pesto?

The short answer: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect companion for pesto dishes. Its high acidity and citrus undertones beautifully complement the fresh, herby flavors of basil and the rich, nutty elements of Parmesan and pine nuts, making it an ideal choice for enhancing the flavors of pesto.

But there are many options! So let’s get into all of them! ⬇️

Pairing Pesto with White Wines

pesto wine pairing

When you’re enjoying a dish swirled with the vibrant, green hues of pesto, choosing the right white wine can elevate your meal from great to unforgettable. Let’s dive into how Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay can complement your favorite pesto dishes, highlighting their unique characteristics and why they work so well.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is like the best friend your basil pesto pasta could ever have. This wine is known for its crisp acidity and vibrant aromatics, making it a fantastic match for the fresh flavors of basil and the richness of olive oil found in pesto sauce. The herbal notes of Sauvignon Blanc mirror the basil’s freshness, while its zippy acidity cuts through the richness, refreshing your palate with each bite.

  • Key Pairing Tip: Opt for a Sauvignon Blanc with citrus notes to complement dishes with pine nuts and fresh basil.


Chardonnay might seem like an unexpected guest at the pesto party, but when you choose the right one, it fits in flawlessly. A lightly oaked Chardonnay brings a delightful creaminess that can round off the edges of a robust pesto sauce without overpowering it. The trick is to go for bottles that offer a balance of oak and fruit, as too much oak can clash with the pesto’s delicate flavors.

  • Food Pairing Strategy: Lean towards unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnays for pesto dishes, especially if your recipe includes a creamy element or richer sauces.

Exploring Red Wine Options with Pesto

pesto wine pairing

When you’re diving into pesto dishes, don’t limit yourself to just white wines. Red wines, especially lighter and medium-bodied varieties, can also make for astonishing pairings. Let’s explore how Pinot Noir and Sangiovese stand up to the bold flavors of pesto.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is like the best friend you want at every dinner party. It’s versatile, light enough not to overpower your pesto, yet rich in flavor to complement the dish. When pairing Pinot Noir with pesto, you’re in for a delightful experience. The wine’s subtle earthiness, combined with bright cherry and raspberry notes, works wonders with the herbaceous quality of basil pesto. It’s especially great if your pesto recipe includes nuts like pine nuts, as Pinot Noir can enhance the nutty flavors in the sauce.

A tip: Look for a Pinot Noir that’s not too oaky. You want the fruit flavors to shine, not get buried under heavy wood notes.


Moving on to Sangiovese, think of this wine as your go-to when you’re serving a heartier pesto dish. Sangiovese, with its high acidity and robust tannins, stands up beautifully to pesto with richer ingredients, such as those found in dried tomato pesto or recipes laden with olive oil and pine nuts. The wine’s natural acidity cuts through the richness of the sauce, while its tannins offer a pleasing contrast to the creamy texture of the pesto.

If your pesto dish leans towards the savory side, with ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, Sangiovese is an excellent choice. Its notes of red cherries, fresh herbs, and sometimes even a hint of tomato, mirror some of the primary flavors found in pesto dishes, creating a harmonious pairing that elevates the meal.

Alternative Wine Pairings for Pesto

pesto wine pairing

When choosing a quick pick for pesto wine pairings, it’s easy to stick to the classics like Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. But what if you’re feeling adventurous? Or perhaps you’re serving a unique pesto recipe that calls for something a bit different. Let’s explore some alternative wines that can elevate your pesto dishes to a new level.

First off, consider a Pinot Grigio for a lighter, refreshing choice. Especially when you’re enjoying a simple pesto pasta on a warm day, Pinot Grigio’s crisp acidity and citrus notes can cut through the richness of the olive oil and pine nuts in basil pesto, creating a delightful balance. It’s a fine pick, keeping things light yet satisfying.

For those who can’t steer away from red wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon might not be your first thought for pesto pairings, but hear us out. Opt for a younger, fruit-forward Cabernet with milder tannins. If you’re indulging in a robust dried tomato pesto, the bold flavors of the wine can stand up beautifully to the intense dried tomato and basil. The trick is to ensure that the wine doesn’t overpower the dish, so moderation is key.

Which wine goes best based on the pesto dish?

pesto wine pairing

In the world of pesto dishes, you’ll find that the variety of ingredients can greatly influence your wine pairing choice. Here’s a bit of a guide to help you match your pesto wine based on the main components of your dish.

For Basil Pesto Pasta, the star is often the fresh basil, combined with garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil. A Sauvignon Blanc is your best bet here. Its crispness and hints of citrus play well with the basil’s freshness and the rich olive oil.

Switching gears to a Dried Tomato Pesto recipe, things get bolder and more robust. Here, a fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon shines. Its body and slight sweetness can stand up to the dried tomato without overpowering it.

If you’re experimenting with pesto recipes that lean heavily on pine nuts or might incorporate red wine into the sauce, consider Pinot Noir. It’s lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon but still holds a complexity that complements the nutty and savory profiles of such pesto dishes.

Realistically, the best Pesto Wine Pairing comes down to personal taste and experimentation. Every pesto dish can have nuances that might sway your pairing choice. Don’t be afraid to try different wine pairings with the same pesto recipe to discover what you enjoy the most.

Final Sip

Whether you’re leaning towards a Basil Pesto Pasta with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, enjoying a Dried Tomato Pesto with a vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon, or exploring the nutty undertones of pesto with a smooth Pinot Noir, there’s a world of flavors waiting for you. Remember, the key to a perfect pairing is in your hands. Don’t be afraid to experiment and trust your taste buds.

Frequently Asked Questions

pesto wine pairing

What type of wine pairs well with Basil Pesto Pasta?

Sauvignon Blanc is the recommended wine for Basil Pesto Pasta because its crispness and acidity complement the flavors of the pesto.

Can I pair a red wine with pesto dishes?

Yes, a fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with Dried Tomato Pesto, and Pinot Noir is a good choice for pesto recipes that include pine nuts or red wine.

Is it important to match the wine with the specific type of pesto?

Yes, due to the variety of flavors in pesto sauce, it is crucial to choose a wine that complements the specific ingredients and flavor profile of the pesto dish.

Is personal taste important in choosing a pesto wine pairing?

Absolutely. While the article provides guidelines, the importance of personal taste and experimentation in finding the perfect pairing for pesto dishes cannot be overstated.

Can white wine be paired with pesto dishes?

Yes, white wines like Sauvignon Blanc are recommended for dishes like Basil Pesto Pasta because they can match the intensity and freshness of the pesto.


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