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By DenaeKohler

Five simply satisfying red wine pairings

There are many decadent pairing options when dealing with the great reds of the wine world that make settling on an entrée difficult. The first step to a good pairing is knowing your wine craving for the evening. Are you looking for a harder, drier texture, or one that is lighter and less dry? Once you have decided on a wine, it is time to pair it with your meal. To narrow the food search, start with a foundation of pasta and add flavors to keep it simple. Here are just five pairings that will help your dining decisions come smoothly.


Because Merlot gives a less extreme mouth-drying than other more soaked reds with higher tannins, pairing this beginner's wine is simple. Spaghetti with mushrooms would be a perfect pairing. The medium body of the Merlot and the light flavoring of the spaghetti complement each other well. The texture and flavor of the mushrooms give an added flavor burst that captures the taste buds.

Cabernet Sauvignon

With Cabernet Sauvignon being a higher tannins red, it requires a more flavorful dish to offset the dry mouth. A penne pasta smothered in cheesy tomato sauce with bell peppers and ground hamburger does well. The bell peppers will complement the flavors of the wine and seasoned ground hamburger will add a more full texture to the dish. If a more vanilla flavor is present in the wine, request a smoother and creamier sauce for your pasta.

Pinot Noir

Just about any pasta will do with this fruit-forward wine, but adding a grilled meat will really bring out the flavors of the Pinot Noir. A light spinach pesto with sun-dried tomatoes pairs well with chicken and wine. The fruity rose flavors common in this red are easily paired with any grilled meat. With the medium-to-low tannin content of the Pinot Noir, your semi-dry mouth will appreciate a juicy mouthful of grilled chicken breast after a taste of light pasta.


The full-bodied texture and spicy flavoring of Zinfandel calls for a red sauce, tomato-based pasta with a flavorful cut of smoked meat. The smoky flavor of the meat will draw out the jammy flavors of the wine. Preferable mesquite smoked lamb chops with a side of heavy malloreddus pasta covered with a well-simmered tomato sauce and lightly dusted with cheese. This will help draw out the flavors of the dark berries that go into producing Zin.


Malbec is great when paired with spicy dishes and lean cuts. The softer tannins and medium full body texture of the wine is complemented well by more intense spices. Indian and Mexican cuisine pair well with this red, as do some Italian dishes. Sun-dried tomato pasta with a red pesto sauce combined with a cut of sirloin will leave you satisfied.

There are many wonderful red wines that can be paired with any number of dishes and snacks. Those listed above are simply some of the more commonly known reds to the ears of non-wine connoisseurs and easier wines to pair. These pairings are broad and leave plenty of room for experimentation for those new to pairing, but delicious options nonetheless. Whatever your preference of wine, red or white, hard or soft, there is a perfect pairing that will satisfy your taste buds. Enjoy your selections!

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