Kielbasa pairs best with smoky and fruity red wines like Merlot, Chianti and Malbec, along with bubbly sparkling wines like Cava, Prosecco or Sekt. Kielbasa is a lightly smoked Polish Sausage that has flavours of garlic, pimentos, cloves and marjoram and can be eaten on its own or as an ingredient in a variety of dishes. How you serve Kielbasa often dictates what wine will pair up best.
What is the difference between Kielbasa and Polish Sausage?
Kielbasa is the Polish word for Sausage so they are exactly the same thing.
Garlic is the stand-out seasoning for Kielbasa and helps differentiate it from Italian Sausage, which tastes sweeter due to the anise and fennel seasonings. The garlicky flavour of Kielbasa also makes it taste much different than Bratwursts which are seasoned with nutmeg, ginger and caraway seed. Kielbasa is often eaten on its own where it’s seared, grilled, broiled or eaten cold. Or Kielbasa can be enjoyed in soups, pasta, on sandwiches, in casseroles or stews, or served with Sauerkraut.
Best Wine with Kielbasa
Merlot & Kielbasa Sausage Pairing
Whenever I go camping, I always bring a bottle of Merlot and a horseshoe-shaped vac-pac of Kielbasa. Sliced thin and placed on a skewer, it’s fun and tasty to roast Kielbasa on the campfire at night. There’s something about the open air and the extra smoky flavourings that the experience brings to this Sausage.
A glass of Merlot only adds joy to the outdoor experience. With its refreshing notes of plum and cherry, Merlot helps was the fat and saltiness of the Kielbasa away. Meanwhile, the fat and salt of Kielbasa further bring out the black cherry and fruity flavours of a silky Merlot. Finally, Merlot is an excellent wine pairing with Kielbasa tends to be a bit smoky with a bitter dark chocolate bite on the finish, which complement the campfire kissed flavours of the sausage.
Chianti Classico & Pasta with Kielbasa
For tomato-based pasta loaded with garlicky Kielbasa, Chianti Classico makes for a wonderful wine pairing. Chianti Classico is a medium-bodied red wine balanced with tannin and acidity. This high acidity is important when pairing wine with tomato sauce as the acidic nature of the tomatoes will make wines low in acidity taste flat and metallic. The grippy tannin in Chianti binds with the proteins and fats in your Kielbasa, softening the wine and breaking down the molecules in the meat, making the sausage taste even more savoury.
Chianti Classico is bright with cherry, plum and strawberry flavours, which serve up ample refreshment against the starchiness of the pasta and the saltiness of the Kielbasa. Meanwhile, Chianti Classico also carries flavours of herbs, spices, smoke and earth which complements the seasonings used in the Kielbasa.
Riesling & Kielbasa and Sauerkraut Pairing
The fat and spicy flavourings of Kielbasa love the citrusy flavours of a crisp and acidic Riesling. With Riesling, expect vibrant and refreshing flavours of lemon, lime, peach and pear that offer a refreshing contrast against the meaty and garlicky flavours of Kielbasa along with the saltiness of the meat and Sauerkraut. The high acidity of Riesling ensures it won’t clash with acidic Sauerkraut, as a wine that has been oaked or is low in acidity will taste flabby and sharp with the vinegar used to make the Sauerkraut.
Riesling comes in a variety of styles ranging from bone dry to sugary sweet. For Kielbasa, I’d suggest either dry or off-dry Riesling for the best wine pairing. My personal preference would be off-dry Riesling which has a kiss of sugar that strikes a nice balance against the savoury garlic, clove, black pepper, and marjoram seasonings of Kielbasa.
While Riesling will pair up nice with Kielbasa in a soup, pasta, stew or casserole, I like this pairing best with Kielbasa on a Sandwich or a bun with plenty of Sauerkraut. I’m not a picky eater, but I do like my hot food served hot, and I find a chilled glass of Riesling too much of a contrast, temperature-wise, with hot dishes like stews and soups. This is a personal preference, and your mileage may vary.
Prosecco & Kielbasa Sausage Pairing
Prosecco is an Italian Sparkling wine that features plenty of bubbles and mild flavours of pear, toast, apple, peach, apricot and almonds. The bubbly nature of Prosecco works well in swishing the fat and salt away from your taste buds, recharging your palate in between bites. The acidic nature of Prosecco also amplifies any flavours it comes across, thus, you’ll taste more of the seasonings in your Kielbasa as well as any other ingredients should your Kielbasa be used in a sandwich, soup, or casserole.
My preference for Prosecco and Kielbasa is to enjoy a glass with the meat thinly sliced and fried in the frying pan with some eggs for a light brunch at home. The clean taste of Prosecco sharpens the flavours of the fried sausage along with the mild taste of the fried eggs.
Any sparkling wine will work with Kielbasa, including Cava, Champagne, or Sekt. I tend to promote Prosecco the most as it’s frequently available, consistently good, and inexpensive. I only give sparkling wine a three and half rating with Kielbasa as while the pairing is excellent, it’s also often difficult to find the right time to open up a bottle of bubbly (as you often have to ensure the entire bottle is consumed).