Wine Pairing with Spaghetti and Meatballs

There's nothing quite like a homemade bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. But to make this meal even better, serve a hearty glass of Italian Wine along side it! Here are a few of my favorite wines to pair with this dish.

Oh, pasta, how may I proclaim my love for you? So many people try to tell me you are bad for me, but I don't care.

Homemade pasta and sauce is my ultimate comfort food. I worship my favorite Italian Cookbook (that I didn't even buy--it randomly came with the All-Clad pots and pans I bought a few years ago). But guess what? A recipe for spaghetti and meatballs isn't in there! GASP!

It is funny that this dish isn't Italian at all: I'm pretty positive that spaghetti and meatballs was an invention of Italian-American restaurants. Authentic or not, I'm in love. Sweet sauce and spicy meatballs? What more do we need in life?

The Pairing

Even though Spaghetti and Meatballs may not completely be an Italian dish, Italian wine is its best friend. If you've read my other favorite pasta-and-tomato-sauce posts like Garlic Basil Tomato Sauce and Spaghettini and Eggplant Parmesan, you might be familiar with my theory: dishes with tomato sauce love red wines that contain a lot of acidity. You know that sour sensation your mouth gets when you eat something that is very lemony? Your mouth may even start to water? That is acidity, and tomato sauce has a lot of that going on in it. The best red wines will also have high acidity to match the tomato sauce. Couple that with some earthy funk and red fruit flavors in the wine and you've got yourself a match made in heaven.

Suggested Wines to Drink with Your Spaghetti and Meatballs

Italian Reds have the best acidity of any red wine I've ever had, so they are a no-brainer when it comes to choosing what to accompany my spaghetti and meatballs. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Sangiovese
  • Chianti (learn more here)
  • Tuscan Red Blends
  • Barbera
  • Aglianico
  • Nero d'Avola
  • Merlot (preferably a super-fruity, high-acid version)
  • Primitivo or Zinfandel

Wines to Avoid

  • Pinot Noir: although this wine may have the high acidity to match spaghetti and meatballs, it usually is too light and will clash with the dish. I actually tried this pairing last night--it didn't work.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, and Bordeaux Blends: frankly I just think these wines are too big and will overwhelm this dish. But remember, pairing wine is not black and white: there may be some versions of these wines that would pair decently with this dish.
  • White Wine: just stay away. Red wine is the winner in this pairing.

The Recipe

Use any spaghetti and meatball recipe you love for this wine pairing but make sure its not too spicy. This was my first time making spaghetti and meatballs from scratch (I know--what is wrong with me?!) so I made the meatballs based on a recipe from one of my favorite blogs and accompanied them with my favorite homemade tomato sauce. It turned out pretty amazing. Enjoy!


Wine Pairing with Spaghetti and Meatballs

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins

Total time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 4

Meatball recipe adapted from Natashaskitchen.com

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of white bread, crusts removed and torn into little pieces
  • 2/3 Cup cold water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb sweet ground Italian sausage
  • 1/4 Cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 Cup flour to dredge the meatballs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Cups crushed canned Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
  • fresh basil, torn into pieces

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the bread pieces and flour. Set aside for about 5 minutes, then mash with a fork.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, sausage, parmesan, garlic cloves, salt, black pepper, egg, and mashed bread crumbs. Mix until combined.
  3. Using your hands, take a handful of the mixture and roll into a meatball, about 1 1/2 inches round. Then dredge in the flour. Set aside and continue until all of the meatballs have been formed and dredged.
  4. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Working in batches, add enough meatballs to fill the bottom of the dutch oven and saute all sides until brown. When they have browned, set them aside and continue with the remaining batches. I actually only used 1/2 of the batch of meatballs and froze the others for later.
  5. Once all of the meatballs have been browned, start the sauce: In the same saucepan once all meatball have been removed, add the canned tomatoes, butter, onion, and salt. Heat to a simmer, then add back in the meatballs. Cook at a very low simmer for about 30 minutes, then cover and increase the heat a bit to cook the meatballs all the way through (about 15 additional minutes).
  6. Meanwhile, make boil the pasta and drain.
  7. Once the sauce is finished, taste and add any salt (if needed). Remove the onion and add the pasta. Stir completely so the sauce and meatballs are integrated, then serve. Sprinkle basil over finished plated dishes.