How do you make spaghetti and meatballs even more heartwarming? Add a tall glass of wine!
Choosing the right wine type and vintage date is essential to crafting a memorable pairing. A wine that’s too sour can drown out the savory notes of your dish, while a wine that’s too sweet may taste downright unpleasant.
Depending on the recipe you’re using, you may need to step off the beaten path entirely when it comes to your wine pairing.
We have recommendations for the best wine with spaghetti and meatballs below. We’ll take a look at beef, chicken, and vegetarian options to help you create a dish with the most complementary flavors!
Choose Your Sauce Base
Your sauce may not be the focal point, but it’s a powerful foundation for your dish.
The classic spaghetti and meatball platter has a red sauce base brimming with tomatoes and herbs. You can sprinkle in some mushrooms or a hearty helping of onions to add more flavor.
The creamier and lighter end of the spectrum is a white sauce usually based on cheese, butter, or milk. These recipes are also loaded up with herbs like parsley, oregano, or cilantro.
This simple base lets you focus more on the meat and the wine while keeping your pasta from completely drying out.
Garlic, mushroom, herbs, and cheeses are solid additions to a basic olive oil ‘sauce’ base.
Choose Your Meatball Recipes
The centerpiece of your plate is the juicy, savory meatballs. The type of meat you choose – or don’t choose – will be the primary influence on your wine selection.
Juicy and hearty, beef meatballs are as iconic to Italy as espresso shots and fine art. We recommend the classic red wine pairing with beef to add the most contrast, though savory white wines can also work here!
If beef isn’t quite your style, chicken meatballs are a wonderful way to shake things up. The leaner meat and gentler flavor of poultry make this variation ideal for acidic or buttery white wine.
You don’t need to eat meat to enjoy a delectable spaghetti and meatballs platter. Vegetarian meatballs come loaded with hearty ingredients such as potatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, or tofu.
Vegetarian meatballs can be mild and semi-sweet when paired with chunks of apple and sage. You can also veer toward a spicy base by tossing in red pepper, black pepper, and garlic.
The versatility of vegetarian meatballs makes them well-suited to multiple wine types.
The Best Wine With Spaghetti and Meatballs
The function of a wine pairing is to bring out the flavor notes of your dish and your drink. With every new sip, your food tastes richer. With every new bite, your wine becomes more sumptuous and flavorful.
The Best Red Wines With Spaghetti and Meatballs
Red wine is classically associated with spaghetti and meatballs for good reason. Tomato sauce and red meat taste downright brilliant when paired with red fruit or dark fruit notes.
Some wines may lean toward a smoky or chocolatey finish, which brings out the salty flavors of your meat.
We’d be remiss to recommend the best wine with spaghetti and meatballs and not start off with a classic Italian red!
Sangiovese’s dominant flavor notes when fresh and unoaked are red currant, cherries, and herbs. Older varieties that have had some oak aging will bear robust flavors of tobacco, earth, and baking spices.
We Recommend Sangiovese For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Beef or Savory Vegetarian Meatballs With Red Sauce
Sangiovese’s zesty personality is matched only by its husky, lingering finish. Traditional tomato sauce and beef meatballs are well-suited to this wine.
If you need a vegetarian recipe, craft your meatballs with a brawny base of potatoes and mushrooms. Add a light dusting of herbs to complement Sangiovese’s earthy, herbal finish.
The one and only cabernet sauvignon has dark fruit flavors that will enhance the tangy or salty notes in your dish. Even better, its dry character will further exaggerate semi-sweet flavors.
The flavor profile of cabernet sauvignon leans toward black currant and dark cherries, with a significant green bell pepper note. Oaked varieties are quite complex, bringing hints of wood, tobacco, and vanilla to the mix.
We Recommend Cabernet Sauvignon For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Beef or Apple Sage Vegetarian Meatballs With Red Sauce
If you want a fresh cabernet sauvignon with a more fruit-forward character, bring in spiced beef meatballs with a tomato sauce base. The dark fruit will enhance the zest of any peppers, garlic, and onions you’ve added to your recipe.
If you prefer oaked cabernet sauvignon, we’d recommend apple sage vegetarian meatballs with the same tomato sauce base.
The wine will be extra dry to level out the apple’s sweetness while adding a smoky finish that rounds out the plate.
Fresh syrah is grown in regions like France and Italy, ranging from dark fruit notes to subtle violets and herbs. Oaked syrah is similar to other oaked red wines with its notes of cassis and vanilla.
Shiraz is the syrah grape grown in New World regions such as Australia and South Africa, famously savory with its smoked meat and pepper notes. Oaked shiraz will also have vanilla flavors alongside black olive.
We Recommend Syrah For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Beef Meatballs With Red Sauce
Since unoaked syrah is generally more floral and fruit-forward, beef meatballs with tomato sauce are the best bet. The wine’s black fruit and floral notes will stand out against the tomato’s tart flavor to create an elegant finish.
We Recommend Shiraz For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Vegetarian Meatballs With Red Sauce or Olive Oil
Since shiraz tends to be more intense and savory, we recommend this version for vegetarian meatballs. If you crave the same meaty flavor of red meat or poultry, this wine will add a similar intense kick to your dish.
If you prefer to focus on the wine and meatballs, try a simple olive oil base with a sprinkle of herbs or a dash of butter.
Your spaghetti and meatballs will be more balanced than a Libra scale with the aid of a red blend. This broad category refers to wine bottles that contain multiple red wine grapes.
Since this category is so vast, we’ll recommend specific red blend recipes you can easily find at your local grocery store or wine shop.
We Recommend Chianti Classico For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Chicken or Beef Meatballs With Red Sauce or Olive Oil
Crafted with sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc, chianti classico is a famous red blend that’ll be right at home with tomato sauce-based spaghetti and meatballs.
This medium-bodied wine has an arrangement of strawberry and cherry notes, often favored for its slight lean toward a balsamic vinegar finish.
Chicken meatballs will taste even better with the blend’s herbal tanginess, while beef meatballs will be balanced out by the red fruit.
We Recommend Red Bordeaux For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Beef Meatballs With Red Sauce
If you prefer a more full-bodied wine, get an authentic red Bordeaux straight from France. These wines are made with robust red grapes like cabernet sauvignon and malbec alongside gentler varieties like merlot.
The squeeze of juice from each bite of your beef meatballs will be nicely washed down with Red Bordeaux’s dark fruit notes of black cherry, plums, and freshly-turned soil.
We Recommend Rioja For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Beef or Savory Vegetarian Meatballs With Red Sauce
Crafted with mostly Tempranillo grapes, Rioja is a red blend that’s bold and uncompromising. Dark plums and figs give you a brambly flavor that leads into one of the smokiest finishes known to winemaking.
Such a hearty wine needs a hearty meal to match, so stick to classic tomato sauce and beef meatballs. If you need vegetarian options, use eggplants and mushrooms as your base to keep your dish chewy and savory.
The Best White Wines With Spaghetti and Meatballs
White wine is paired with spaghetti and meatballs almost as often as red wines. The high level of acidity and smooth finish is a welcome contrast to your dish’s oily or fatty ingredients.
Pinot grigio is a popular recommendation on Drink Stack for its semi-dry, semi-sweet, and semi-tart profile.
Apple, pear, honey, lemon, and floral notes are the dominant flavor notes here, though you’ll get an extra punch of acidity after chilling your bottle.
We Recommend Pinot Grigio For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Chicken Meatballs With White Sauce
Pinot grigio is a powerhouse when paired with chicken, offering a tart and semi-sweet contrast to the meat’s salty flavor. A white sauce based on cream or cheese will give you a little more fat to balance out the wine’s fruity character.
White wines can be savory, too! Oaked chardonnay is the king of the pack with bold, powerful whites, famed for its buttery finish and heavy mouthfeel.
Oaked chardonnay often has notes of vanilla, cedar, and baking spices from the aging process.
We Recommend Oaked Chardonnay For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Chicken or Vegetarian Meatballs With Red or White Sauce
Oaked chardonnay is rather versatile, at home with either a tangy tomato sauce or a creamy white sauce. Similarly, chicken meatballs or vegetarian meatballs made with potatoes and mushrooms will pair nicely.
If pinot grigio isn’t sweet enough for you, riesling will be just the ticket. This German white wine is famously sweet and bright, offering a well-rounded set of flavors alongside a lower-than-average alcohol count.
Green and yellow apples, honey, and pears are the most common flavors, though you may also enjoy notes of nectarine or candied lemon. The wine’s aroma is also quite floral, so more subtle dishes will work best.
We Recommend Riesling For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Chicken or Vegetarian Meatballs With All Kinds Of Sauce
Poultry or vegetarian meatballs will be gentle enough not to overwhelm the wine’s aroma, but savory enough to contrast riesling’s sweetness.
This wine is rather flexible with sauce: it’s sweet enough to contrast a tomato or olive oil base, but tangy enough to stand out against a white sauce base.
The Best Rosé With Spaghetti and Meatballs
You don’t have to sweat the small stuff when pairing wine with spaghetti and meatballs. Rosé gives you a lighter and breezier wine style that’s balanced enough to meet just about any pairing.
Rosé generally leans toward red fruit flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and melon.
We Recommend Still Rose For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: Chicken or Vegetarian Meatballs With Red Sauce
Rosé is tangy and slightly sweet, both solid details for a poultry base. We recommend grilling vegetarian meatballs to add a little charr to balance out your wine’s fruit-forward notes.
We Recommend Sparkling Brut Rose For Spaghetti and Meatballs With: All Meatballs With Red Sauce
Sparkling brut rose gives you a pop of bubbles to break down oily flavors, then a little bright acidity to wash away fat. As a result, this wine type is well-suited to all kinds of meatballs.