Unlocking the best Wine Pairing for Penne alla Vodka

If you’ve ever tried Penne alla Vodka, then you know it’s creamy and delicious. This popular pasta dish is a great choice for dinner parties because it can be served with a variety of wines. Let’s take a look at some of the best options.

What is Penne alla Vodka?

Penne alla Vodka is a popular pasta dish made with a tomato-based sauce. Its origins are unknown, but it’s thought to have originated in Rome. Penne alla Vodka pasta is prepared with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and spices.

Penne alla Vodka

Pairing with Wine

The wine you should pair with Penne alla Vodka depends on how your recipe is prepared. Vodka is clear alcohol, so you can pair it with any wine. Let’s take a look at the various options and the best wine with vodka sauce.

Traditional Recipe

If you’re making a traditional recipe and using vodka as the base of your sauce, then try pairing it with a white or rosé wine.

A crisp Sauvignon Blanc would be a great choice because it will complement the earthy flavors of your dish. If you’re opting for a lighter sauce made with cream instead of vodka, then try pairing it with an aromatic white wine like Chardonnay.

For Sauvignon Blanc, I look for one of these good examples:

Bread & Butter North Coast Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc has bright aromas of lemon zest and hints of tropical fruit, lively flavors with citrus notes followed by a rich texture and a clean finish.

2021 Decoy California Sauvignon Blanc

Aromas of pineapple, lemon, and green apple lead the way for this crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Underneath those fresh scents is a layer of lime zest that adds another exciting dimension to what you taste, which lingers in your mouth long after each sip.

Lieu Dit Sauvignon Blanc 2017

This Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of ripe kiwi, lemon, and lime accented by hints of green apples. The palate is full and creamy with a rich mouthfeel that is balanced by crisp acidity.

If you prefer the aromatic, buttery nature of Chardonnay then look out for one of these:

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

This vineyard is located in California, and it’s a great place to start your search for a good Chardonnay with crab legs. This wine is made from grapes grown in the Sonoma Valley, where the climate is ideal for growing them. Fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels for richness, toastiness, and complexity.

J. Lohr Chardonnay

This California winery has been making award-winning wines for over 30 years, and this Chardonnay is no exception. They use grapes from their own vineyards in Monterey County, which means that you can be sure the quality is always high. This wine has a rich golden color with notes of citrus and vanilla on the nose.

Ladera Vineyards Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands, which is a cool climate area. It’s aged in French oak barrels for about 15 months before being bottled and has notes of vanilla and toasted hazelnuts on the nose.

Hagafen Cellars “Reserve” Napa Valley Chardonnay

Made from grapes grown in Napa Valley. It has a rich golden color with notes of citrus, vanilla, and toasted hazelnuts on the nose. It’s aged for about 18 months in French oak barrels before being bottled.

Going Spicy?

If the penne is spicy, Zinfandel would make for a good pairing. The heat releases the fruitiness in red wines, so if you have a spicy vodka pasta dish like this one, look for rich fruit flavors to balance out the heat.

Zinfandel, a red wine from California, is spicy in its own right. Pairing this with penne alla vodka will provide you with the best of both worlds: a spicy pasta dish and an equally spicy glass of wine. Zinfandel has a fruity flavor that will complement the tomato sauce on your plate, making it an excellent choice for those who want their food to match well with their glass of wine. You can expect your palate to be pleased by how well these two flavors work together.

Try one of these Zinfandels. All are excellent examples:

Journeyman Wines, San Lorenzo ‘The Pearl’ Old Vine Red (Alexander Valley)

A floral bouquet with notes of tobacco and anise. This is a bold, full-bodied red. It has rich flavors of chocolate, with dark fruits and pepper. Velvet smooth mouthfeel and a tannic finish. Let it breathe before serving.

Hartford Family Winery Hartford Dina’s Vineyard Zinfandel

Hartford Russian River Valley Zinfandel presents aromas of ripe plum, blackberry, and black cherry. White pepper and allspice add complexity to this wine’s fruity bouquet. A burst of blueberry, raspberry, nutmeg, and chocolate flavors leads to a long-lasting finish.

Carlisle Papera Ranch Zinfandel 2020

Another excellent Zinfandel from Russian River, California. Ruby-red in color. On the nose, it is bright cherry with aromas of blackberry and raspberry with notes of vanilla and tobacco. It is medium-full-bodied and very smooth on the palate. 

Creamy Versions

If your pasta has cream in it (as some versions do) Gamay would be a good choice because they add acidity without overpowering the creamy sauce and still complement its flavors. Fruity wines like Gamay go well with creamy Penne alla Vodka because they have a similar body and weight. These wines are also high in acidity, which will help balance out the creaminess of the pasta.

I recommend the following Gamay:

Georges Descombes Morgon (Beaujolais, France)

A simply outstanding Beaujolais with a floral bouquet and aromas of red berry fruits. The flavors are similarly red berries with a floral undertone. Light to medium in body, the acidity is high in this very drinkable wine.

Scar of The Sea Topotero Vineyard Gamay, (San Luis Obispo, California)

From the winery,Think blood orange, peppercorn, and fresh strawberry”.

Critic tasting note: (2020 vintage) “Transparent in the glass, this herby display of Gamay from a very coastal vineyard fascinates with aromatic layers of tarragon, forest floor, uncracked peppercorn and pine needle trampled into muddy soil on the nose. Tart berry and plum flavors pop on the sip, where green sage and wild earth elements carry into the finish. Matt Kettmann” – 94/100Wine Enthusiast

Adroit Gamay (San Benito County)

Another great Gamay from California and exceptional value too.

Critic tasting note: (2019 vintage) “Freshly smashed strawberry and lively hibiscus aromas meet with white pepper, pine needle, and light soil on the nose of this bottling. The palate’s texture is extremely taut, releasing red-currant, white-peppercorn, and tart red-plum flavors in waves of expression. Matt Kettmann” – 94/100Wine Enthusiast

Gruner Veltliner with Penna alla Vodka

Gruner Veltliner is another fruity wine that goes well with Penne alla Vodka. It has a similar body and weight, but it has a hint of sweetness that will help balance out the acidity in the dish. The wine itself has a very light color, but it’s thick in the mouth with a lot of fruity flavors. The sweetness is almost like a berry syrup and adds to the weight of this wine. Here are some of the best you can get:

Rudi Pichler Weissenkirchner Achleithen Gruner Veltliner Smaragd

Critic tasting note: (2020 vintage) “This white is fuller bodied with a gorgeous mouthfeel. All of its components are beautifully represented, with orange-blossom aromas that match the ripe citrus flavors at its core, while Red Delicious apple, yellow plum and dandelion glide along, adding to the intrigue. It is long and well-balanced. Drink now through 2032. Aleks Zecevic” – 93/100Wine Enthusiast

Weingut Emmerich Knoll ‘Vinothekfullung’ Gruner Veltliner Smaragd

Critic tasting note: (2018 vintage) “The mellow richness of ripe Mirabelle on the nose seems bedded in rich, creamy yeast. A hint of ripe orange peel also glimmers. The palate is compact, concentrated and charged with salty yeast that holds insinuations of pepper and herb crushed on stone. A pithy texture lends shape while citrus zest channels all this forward, giving drive and pervasive freshness. That orange notion flashes up again on the dry finish. Anne Krebiehl MW” – 96/100Wine Enthusiast

Weingut Prager Stockkultur Achleiten Gruner Veltliner Smaragd

Critic tasting note: (2020 vintage) “This delicious white is ripe, but well balanced with a plethora of exotic aromas and flavors, including pine tree, clementine oranges, cardamom seeds, nectarine and passion fruit. It features a gorgeous texture that caresses the palate, yet the acidity gives it a bit of a crunch. The finish is long and precise. Best from 2024–2034. Aleks Zecevic” – 93/100Wine Enthusiast

Sparkling Wine with Penne alla Vodka

An Italian sparkling wine like Prosecco is a great choice for pairing with tomato-based pasta dishes like this one because of its high acidity and low alcohol content. The bubbles from the sparkling wine will also help cut through the creaminess of the sauce.

There is some great Prosecco out there so it’s difficult to go wrong. I recommend these as some of the best:

Bottega ‘Gold’ Prosecco Brut

Critic tasting note: “Packaged in what looks like a solid gold bottle, this easy sparkler offers fresh acidity and clean fruit aromas. The gold packaging gives this particular bottle a sassy, luxurious competitive edge.” – 85/100Wine Enthusiast

Bisol Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG

Award tasting note: (2021 vintage) “Melon and pear drop foaming creation with a sweet edge and citrus balance.” – SilverInternational Wine Challenge

Masottina Prosecco di Treviso Brut

Prosecco isn’t generally expensive anyway but this one provides even more value. An absolute bargain given the quality of the wine on offer.

Award tasting note: “Clean, fresh, floral notes with lovely lime and citrus flavors on the palate. – Panel Chair: Clive Barlow MW , Co-Chair: Oz Clarke” – BronzeInternational Wine Challenge

Conclusion

There are several wines that go well with this popular penne vodka pasta dish and much will depend on how you prepare the pasta. If you go down the traditional route I recommend a crisp Sauvignon blanc or buttery Chardonnay. If you are introducing spices then opt for a Zinfandel.

Creamy recipes will work well with fruitier wines such as Gamay and Gruner Veltliner. You can even add Prosecco to that list.

I am something of a purist and would always go for the Sauvignon blanc with this dish but as you can see there are some good options.

Looking for a good Penne alla Vodka recipe? Take a look at Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

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