Spicy and savoury, traditional Hungarian Goulash pairs best with rich red wines with high acidity, such as Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Côtes du Rhône, Gamay Noir, or Blaufränkisch. For extra spicy Goulash with some fire to it, reach for an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer.

Traditional Hungarian Beef Goulash is a stew/soup consisting of tender chunks of beef, potatoes, onions and other vegetables and spiced with paprika. Recipes vary, however, Goulash in stew form is often served over egg noodles.

American Goulash, or American Chop Suey, is a completely different traditional styled Goulash with entirely different ingredients. Chock full of tomato sauce, ground beef and macaroni noodles, American Goulash, is pure comfort food and requires red wines that are high in acidity such as Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chianti Classico, Barbera and Beaujolais Villages.

Best Wine with Goulash

Red WineRibera del Duero, RedBeef Goulash
Red WineZweigeltHungarian Goulash
Red WineBlaufrankischHungarian Goulash
Red WineZinfandelBeef Goulash
Red WineAmaroneGoat Goulash
BeerSpiced BeerHungarian Goulash
BeerDunkel BeerHungarian Goulash
BeerDoppelbockHungarian Goulash
Red WinePinot NoirHungarian Goulash
Red WineRioja CrianzaHungarian Goulash
Red WineSt. LaurentHungarian Goulash
Red WineGamay NoirHungarian Goulash
Red WineCôtes du Rhône, RedHungarian Goulash
Red WineZinfandelAmerican Goulash
Red WineBarbera (DOC)American Goulash
Red WineChianti (DOCG) American Goulash
Red WineDolcetto (DOC)American Goulash
Red WineMerlotHungarian Goulash
Red WineChâteauneuf du Pape, RedBeef Goulash
BeerTrappistHungarian Goulash
BeerAbbey BeerHungarian Goulash
BeerBaltic PorterHungarian Goulash
White WineRieslingHungarian Goulash
White WineGewürztraminerHungarian Goulash
Red WineBeaujolaisAmerican Goulash
Red WinePinot NoirAmerican Goulash

Zweigelt & Goulash Pairing

Zweigelt is an Austrian red wine that tart, fruity, and bright red wine with cherry, raspberry, pepper, and chocolate flavours. The fresh acidity and crisp flavours of Zweigelt cut down on the spiciness of the paprika in your Beef Goulash, enabling you to savour all of the flavours without overwhelming your taste. The fruity flavours of Zweigelt also provide a lovely counterbalance to the savoury and earthy flavours of Goulash.

In Hungary, Goulash is often served with local red wines, which might be difficult to acquire in North America. Thus, if you can’t find any quality Hungarian wines at your local wine shop, try  Zweigelt, which is from Austria, a nearby neighbour of Hungary.  Zweigelt is similar enough to what you’d expect to what wine you’d be served within Hungary and much easier to find.

Blaufränkisch & Beef Goulash Pairing

Blaufränkisch is an Austrian red wine that is rich with a bounty of blackberry and black cherry flavours along with mocha and peppery notes. Vibrant with acidity, Blaufränkisch bounces in and puts out some of the heat found in the paprika and pepper that seasons your Goulash. Because there are so many flavours flying around in Goulash, you want your wine to be as simple as possible. Otherwise, your taste buds will be overburdened. Because Blaufränkisch is so light and fruity, you can rest assured that you’ll be drinking a red wine that knows its boundaries and won’t overstay its welcome.

Finally, the peppery notes of Blaufränkisch are outstanding with Goulash as they complement the beefy and savoury flavours of this dish.

Pinot Noir & Hungarian Goulash Pairing

Pinot Noir is a light, fruity red wine with a crisp acidity along with an earthy funk to it that is similar to truffles, mushrooms or the smell of the forest during a damp autumn morning. When drinking a glass of Pinot Noir, the first notes you’ll notice are usually strawberry, cherry, and raspberry. However, after you take a nice deep whiff of this delicious red wine, the earthy flavours really shine. The earthiness of Pinot Noir complements the root vegetables in your Goulash along with the beef.  Meanwhile, the brisk fruity flavours offer a refreshing contrast.

Stay away from inexpensive Pinot Noir.  It is targeted towards the masses and is often artificially flavoured with dyes, additives and chemicals to make for a perfumed or candied smelling wine.  Real Pinot Noir is difficult to make and incredibly dependent on the growing season and terroir.  It’s a fickle wine grape that requires a talented team of winemakers to create something special.  While I’d never suggest buying the best Pinot Noir that money can buy (as that will be thousands of dollars), stick to Pinot Noir $35 and above and avoid any bottles that have cute images of cake, fuzzy animals or girly fonts.

Rioja Crianza & Goulash Pairing

Rioja Crianza is a medium-bodied Spanish red wine with luscious cherry flavours, a tang of citrus, and a hint of earthiness. The earthiness of Rioja, combined with its raspberry and cherry flavours, highlights the pepper and paprika aspects of this traditional Hungarian meal without overwhelming the flavours of the dish or wine.

Rioja Crianza only sees a year or so of ageing in a used oak cask, making it perfect for everyday fare such as Goulash.  Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva see longer times ageing in oak and will come across as more rich and complex but with lower acidity.  Aged Rioja will still make a fine companion to Goulash, but I don’t recommend it.  With so many flavours bouncing around in Goulash, there’s no need to add additional flavours of mocha, vanilla and leather that an aged Rioja will bring.  Instead, save these more expensive bottles for meaty dishes like a steak, roasted pheasant, or veal chops.

Riesling & Spicy Goulash Pairing

If your Goulash is fiery hot with spice, or you prefer white wines over red, Riesling is the wine to reach for.  Vibrant with acidity and flavours of lemon, lime, pear and peach, Riesling is a food-friendly wine that nearly goes with everything.

Riesling won’t complement any of the flavours found in  Goulash, however, the citrus and stone fruit flavours do offer plenty of refreshment against the spices found in the dish. The acidity of Riesling also accentuates the vegetable notes found in Goulash, allowing you to appreciate all the flavours of this Hungarian staple.

Riesling can range from bone-dry to syrupy sweet, along with every style in between.  With spicy hot Goulash, stick to an off-dry Riesling, which has a touch of sweetness to counterbalance the heat of the spice. For not-so-spicy Goulash, a dry Riesling will do the trick.

Zinfandel & American Goulash Pairing

Zinfandel is a very American wine (basically it’s the 4th of July in a bottle), in that it’s slightly sweet (due to the fruitiness) and bold in its jammy flavours of raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and plum.  The jammy flavours offer a refreshing contrast to the beefiness of American Goulash. At the same time, the lack of tannin in the wine ensures it remains fruity rather than metallic, which often happens when tannin clashes with the acidity of tomatoes.

You want to go for a mid-range Zinfandel with American Goulash, as expensive bottles are heavily oaked, syrupy, and saturated with alcohol.  Expensive Zinfandel is meant for higher quality foods that will give you the meat sweats.  A mid-range Zinfandel is much more suitable for the comfort-food level of American Goulash and will also feature complementary flavours of spice, smoke and black pepper that help elevate this pairing.

Chianti Classico & American Goulash Pairing

Chianti Classico is an Italian red wine that is light, fruity and rustic with notes of herbs and earthiness. I love Chianti because it takes a purely American dish like American Goulash and adds its Italian flair to it as its notes of herbs and earthiness. Meanwhile, Chianti’s tannin is grippy enough to soften up when the beefy proteins and fats strike it, while the acidity of the wine dance along with the tart tomato flavours.