The best wines to pair with Pesto Sauce include Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, and Pinot Gris. You’ll want to look for white wines that aren’t overly ripe and have a green quality o match the green flavours of basil, garlic and olive oil found in the Pesto sauce. Avoid oaked white wines at all costs, as the tannin in the oak will taste bitter when pitted against Pesto’s sharp garlic and green flavours. Your white wine will also need some heft, as Pesto Sauce is very flavourful and will crush wimpy white wines.
When it comes to red wine, you’ll need lighter herbal reds that are high in acidity and low in tannin. The herbal aspect of Pesto can clash with the red and dark fruit flavours of heavier wines, as well as any tannic oak – so Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz will not make for a good pairing. Instead, you’ll need a red wine with herbal flavours like Cabernet Franc, which offers enough green notes to complement the pesto sauce’s strong green flavours. Meanwhile, Chianti Classico and Beaujolais offer ample herbaceous flavours to complement Pesto when served with something meaty, such as tuna & Pesto.
Pesto is a sauce made from basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and shredded hard cheese sauce that is commonly tossed with pasta or spread on pizza. White wines that aren’t very ripe and have a green quality pair best with the dish’s concentrate on the green flavours of basil, garlic, and olive oil.
Sauvignon Blanc has a grassy flavour that pairs well with Pesto’s green flavours of basil, garlic, and olive oil. Furthermore, Sauvignon Blanc has crisp lemon, lime and grapefruit flavours that jive well with the sharp green flavours of pesto sauce.
The zingy rush that the acidity of Sauvignon Blanc delivers enhances the vibrant flavours of Pesto Sauce, making them seem even fresher. The acidity also declogs your taste receptors of all the delicious but gunky fats from the cheese, olive oil and pine nuts. This is important, as it ensures every bite of Pesto Sauce tastes as delicious as the first when paired up with a sip of Sauvignon Blanc in between bites. Finally, Sauvignon Blanc is rarely aged in oak, and unoaked white wines are a must as the tannin in oak will make the Pesto Sauce taste inhumanely bitter and unappealing.
Albariño & Pesto Pairing
Albariño is a Spanish white wine loved for its grapefruit, peach, melon, apricot and nectarine flavours along with its of salinity and electric acidity. The crisp acidity packed into every sip of Albariño brings out all the fresh flavours of Pesto Sauce. Meanwhile, the zippy grapefruit notes of Albariño complement the green flavours of the basil, olive oil and garlic, while the notes of melon, peach and apple provide plenty of refreshment.
Hárslevelű & Pesto Pairing
Hárslevelű is Hungarian white wine that has fresh flavours of honey, apple blossom, lime zest, pear and chestnut, along with a roaring acidity.
Peppery on the palate, Hárslevelű is reminiscent of Grüner Veltliner, which is a much easier wine to find. Hárslevelű is rare in North America and goes under many guises, such as Lindenblättriger in Germany and Frunza de tei in Romania. However, if you have a bottle of Hárslevelű in your cellar, and are looking to pair it up with something delicious, try it out with Pasta tossed in Pesto Sauce, or a carrot-ginger soup.
If you are unable to find a bottle of Hárslevelű, seek out a Grüner Veltliner, which has a similar taste profile, and is much easier to find.
Italian Arneis & Pesto Sauce Pairing
Italian Arneis is a medium-bodied wine that fresh flavours apple, grapefruit and pear along with grassy and herbal notes that complement the green flavours of basil and garlic found in your Pesto sauce. You’ll also find a bitter almond note on the finish that complements the toasted pine nuts.
Cabernet Franc & Tuna & Pesto Pairing
Not many red wines pair with Pesto Sauce, as red and dark fruit flavours of cherry, raspberry and blackberry don’t jive all that well with the green and sharp flavours of basil, olive oil, or garlic. Cabernet Franc, however, is loaded with green notes of green bell pepper, herbs, green olives and grass, which will dance well with the Pesto Sauce. You’ll still find raspberry, red cherry and blackberry notes, so I’d call this pairing acceptable if you require a red wine. The white wines mentioned above make for much better pairings.
Search for a Cabernet Franc low in tannin, while the oil and cheese fats used in Pesto should soften most of the tannin in your Cabernet Franc. Beware, though, as you do run the risk of the wine tasting bitter against all the garlic and herbal flavours of the Pesto Sauce. The pairing of Cabernet Franc and Pesto Sauce will improve if the Pesto accompanies something meaty like Tuna, Chicken or Pork, where the additional protein will soak up Cabernet Franc’s Tannin.