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Wine Pairing with Pesto

I'm making a creamy pesto sauce for pasta and was wondering what would be a good wine to pair with that? I was thinking Chardonnay maybe? Any specific names?

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  1. Sauvignon Blanc (keep it all “green” and NO WOOD!). A nice grassy, boney, angular one will cut through the cream while at the same time marry well with the herbaceousness of the parsley and basil.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chinon00

      any particular brands?

      1. re: izzizzi

        This is tough because the selection from your wine store may be very different from mine. I could suggest some widely distributed producers but to get suggestions in wider price range I'd tell my wine guy what I'm looking for (i.e. grassy, angular sauvignon) and let him/her lead me. Something great that fits the bill may be on sale.

    2. While Sauvignon Blanc is a fine choice, you might also want to consider a wine from pesto's homeland. Ligurian whites (Cinqueterre, Rivera Ligure di Ponente, Colli de Luni, etc.) are fairly rare birds on this side of the pond but if you can put your hands on one, it'd be a natural. Alternatively, look for wines made from the same grapes, most notably Vermentino, or whites from nearby appellations like Gavi and Soave, especially the latter if there actually is cream in your dish (Pieropan, Inama and Anselmi, whose wines no longer carry the appellation name, are excellent producers). As you might expect, Nice's Bellet and Marseille's Cassis are lovely with pesto, though again they're hard to find and often pricey. Sella & Mosca's Torbato di Alghero from Sardinia is another fine candidate. And, believe it or not, young, light, raspy Ligurian reds can be a delight with pesto; a Bardolino or lighter-styled Barbera, Dolcetto or Valpolicella would provide a fair appoximation of the effect.

      1 Reply
      1. re: carswell

        I serve Gavi with pesto or pesto cream sauces. My favorite brand is Banfi's Principessa Gavi, and it's pretty widely available.

      2. I'd go with a dry Riesling. Preferably Austrian. Alternatively, an Arneis or a perhaps a great Friulian white such as those made by Schiopetto.

        2 Replies
        1. re: whiner

          well, thank you for all your suggestions. Unfortunately, my the wine has already been purchased (to my chagrin) and it was a Toad Hollow Chardonnay...any good?

          1. re: izzizzi

            LOL! Drink what you like! Were you afraid to be disappointed and just stuck with the old reliable Chard?

        2. I know everyone is going to recommend whites, but for me, I pair pesto with a Sonoma/Napa Zinfandel.

          My reasoning, is that pesto is such a strong sauce with a lot of flavor, so you will need a medium red to complement it. I find most whites don't match up with as the pesto will overpower it.

          My recommendations for a nice Zinfandel are:
          2004 Haywood Rocky Terrace Zinfandel or
          2004 Coppola Pennino Zinfandel

          3 Replies
          1. re: rpang

            Agreed.

            The best pairings I've ever had with pesto have been with Zinfandel.
            The basil and cheese pair well with the wine; the garlic seems to
            find a commonality with the black pepper/white pepper zing in the wine. Just make sure the Zin is not over-ripe and jammy, meaning the peppery component has been lost.

            However, I don't quite know what a *creamy* pesto is...perhaps you can explain.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              well...it's not really a pesto. I'm trying to salvage fridge ingredients. Basically it's sauted (sp?) garlic, then lemon juice and cream, bit of fresh rosemary, fresh basil, lemon zest, pine nuts, and finishing off with fresh butter, parmigiano-reggiano and a splash of pasta water. I found Cipriani Tagliatelle on sale, so bought that. I know, VERY untraditional, but possibly good? It's not really a pesto, more a deconstructed (?) pesto + lemon. haha.

              1. re: izzizzi

                Ah, this sounds more like a herbed/lemon cream sauce, but a very good one! I may back off the Zin in that case. I like the rec of Arneis, a lovely white wine from Piedmont; my preference is for Arneis from the Roero area. Also, Vouvray/Chenin Blanc or a Sauvignon Blanc. If your ingredients were those of a straightforward pesto -- *lots* of garlic, basil, pignoli and Reggiano -- then the resulting flavor would be of enough intensity to match the Zin. You can find some very good Vouvrays and SBs for under $15, if you'd care to save your Chard for another occasion or add something else for the mix. I like the way you clean out your fridge!

          2. i love pesto - especially with green beans and potato. but i think sancerre or pinot gris.
            extra parmasian please!

            1. A true pesto would be complimented by a vermentino or cinque terre...

              1. Thanks everyone for suggestions, though like I said we just got a chardonnay, which was good enough, it wasn't anything fancy. Thanks!

                1 Reply
                1. re: izzizzi

                  Then why did you ask?! Just kidding.

                2. Carswell's suggestions reflect my line of thinking: try to match regionally. That said, the suggestion of zinfandel, or primitivo, intrigues me. I'll give that a shot next time. (Well, not a shot - an 8oz glass!). My contribution would be a pinot grigio from Friuli, by Pighin, or Cannelungo. (I don't see the point in breaking the budget on an expensive wine that has to be battle something as aggressive as pesto.)