Nothing says Italian dinner like a classic lasagna paired with the perfect wine. However, with all the different ways to make lasagna and hundreds of options for wine, it may be challenging to know which lasagna style pairs with which wine. In this article, we will discuss the best lasagne and wine pairings.

The best wine pairings for lasagna is a medium-bodied, juicy red wine like Barbera, Gamay, Beaujolais, or Sangiovese. These wines accompany traditional lasagna’s rich flavor profile coming from beef, red sauce, pasta, bechamel, and cheese superbly. And they have just the right combination of acidity, tannins, and alcohol to stand up its the creamy texture.

For other non-traditional lasagna styles, you may need to stray from classic Italian red wine. Depending on the ingredients, a lighter red or even a white wine is the right match. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the most popular lasagna and wine pairings in more detail.

The History of Lasagna

Lasagne is a versatile dish that can contain meat, vegetables, traditional pasta, and red as well as white sauces. Combining these ingredients in various ways can result in very different culinary experiences and also in different wine pairings.

Traditionally, lasagna is served as a main course, or as a “primo piatto” (English: first course) ahead of the main meat dish. With meat, a red sauce, and cheese, it’s a rather heavy dish.

Before the infamous tomato was brought from the New World to Italy in the 16th century, the Italians made lasagna with sheets of pasta, soft cheese, spices, and a meat ragu sauce. For the sauce, they used different types of meat, such as wild boar, sausage, beef or pork, and combined them with wine, milk, oil or butter, pancetta, carrots, onions, and celery. Eventually, they added tomatoes to the recipe.

With the rise in popularity of lasagna throughout the world, more and more variations came up in many different regions of the world. Many of them, especially vegetarian styles, are much lighter and address different preferences.

Which Lasagna and Wine Pairings Work Best?

Like for other foods, you should always try to match the intensity and weight of the dish with the intensity (body) of the wine: Bold wines go with rich meals, and light-bodied wines pair well with light dishes. You can also prepare your pairings based on color: White wine for white meat and red wine for red meat.

With these rules in mind, let’s discuss the most common lasagna and wine pairings.

Lasagna Al Forno and Wine

Traditional lasagna is called Lasagna Al Forno (English: Lasagna from the oven). It contains meat sauce, layers of pasta, ricotta, mozzarella cheese, and typical Mediterranean spices such as oregano and basil. To celebrate the culture of this dish, we recommend traditional Italian red wines, including Chianti and pure Sangiovese wines. Alternatively, a Spanish Rioja is a nice match.

Especially Chianti Classico wines from the Tuscany region are good picks. These complex wines stand out with aromas of red and black fruits, earthy and herbal flavors, and notes of tobacco or licorice. With about 20 USD per bottle, they are also quite affordable:

Castellani Chianti Classico Riserva 2016

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese
  • alcohol: 13.0%

Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Colorino
  • alcohol: 13.5%

Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico 2019

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese
  • alcohol: 13.0%

If you feel like splurging for a super special dinner, try a Gran Selezione wine. These wines are the best of the best from the Tuscany region. Typically, they are significantly more expensive than regular Chiantis, but they’re absolutely worth the money and will make a great Lasagna and wine pairing:

Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Margone 2013

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese
  • alcohol: 14.5%

Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdon
  • alcohol: 14.0%

Rocca delle Macie Sergio Zingarelli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2014

  • type: red, still, Vintage
  • origin: Tuscany, Italy
  • varietal: Sangiovese, Colorino
  • alcohol: 15.0%

Spinach Lasagna and Wine

If you prefer a meat-free preparation, there are some great lasagna and wine combinations for you, too. One of the most popular recipes is based on spinach.

The idea behind spinach lasagna is to replace the meat’s texture with spinach and, in some cases, mushrooms. You can make them with red as well as white sauces, but you should use a type of cheese with a more robust flavor than Mozzarella. Grana Padana is a good alternative.

For these types of dishes, try a dry Italian white wine such as a Vernaccia or Gavi. These wines have medium bodies and significant levels of acidity, but they are relatively low in tannins.

Choose, for instance, a bottle from the Italian Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG. These wines have crisp, zesty flavor profiles with notes of lemon and herbs. Especially in the United States, many wine lovers aren’t aware of them, so you can add an interesting tidbit to dinner conversation (especially if you mention the iconic towers of the city of San Gimignano, which is the wines’ home).

Plate of Spinach Lasagna

Spinach Lasagna

If your recipe is heavy on the mushroom side, consider a lighter-bodied and low-tannin red such as a Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills AVA in Oregon. It’s not the most affordable wine, but with its bright color, red fruit flavors, and elegant tannins, it’s a great match for your spinach lasagna.

Chicken Lasagna and Wine

Chicken lasagna is typically a white sauce-based lasagna that is mild in flavor but very creamy and cheesy. Serve this dish with a bolder white wine like an Oaked Chardonnay from California or South America. A Vermentino is a great pairing too. It comes with flavors of white fruits and bright acidity that can cut through the creamy texture of the lasagna.

If your chicken lasagna recipe happens to use a red sauce, you may consider a stronger red wine, such as the earlier mentioned Chianti or a Merlot. For the latter, consider wines from the Italian region of Südtirol. They have tremendous fruity sweetness with notes of mint and basil and a chocolate finish.

Asparagus Lasagna and Wine

Asparagus lasagnas tend to vary dramatically from the traditional preparation. They include ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes or pancetta instead of the traditional red sauce. For these lasagnas, you have to find a match for the creamy sauce or the accent flavors like the sun-dried tomatoes or pancetta rather than for the asparagus.

For these intense flavors, consider pairing the meal with an acidic wine to help clean the mouth after each bite. Wines such as a Pinot Grigio or a Verdicchio might do very well.

For a Pinot Grigio, try a bottle from the Italian Alto Adige DOC. These wines have flavors of ripe green fruits, with creamy fullness and density. Thankfully, even high-quality Pinot Grigios are fairly well priced and typically don’t cost more than 20 USD. Be aware of bottles under 10 USD. They’re often of minor quality and fail to represent the varietal’s qualities. Verdicchio wines that match Asparagus lasagna come, for instance, from the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOCG in Italy. They offer flavors of straw, apple blossom, and light spice at a reasonable price.
Asparagus Lasagna in Casserole

Asparagus Lasagna

Mozzarella Lasagna and Wine

Mozzarella lasagna differs from traditional lasagna in one specific aspect: It doesn’t contain ricotta or bechamel sauce and instead uses only Mozzarella. Typically, these types of lasagna still have a meat sauce or ragu, which provides the flavor you want to compliment with your wine pairing. However, if you’re open to experimenting with different wine flavors, try an Aglianico wine from Southern Italy. When young, it’s strong in tannins and acidity and has a full body. Older vintages will yield a smoother wine.

Final Words

No matter what style of lasagna you plan to prepare or order for your next dinner, there’s a wine that will pair beautifully. With a little upfront research, you will definitely find a delicious lasagna and wine pairing that pleases all of your guests. Buon appetito!