Tread lightly when trying to pair wine with creamy mushroom pasta – it can be tricky! The earthy flavors from mushrooms combined with the hearty flavor of a white sauce pasta dish can leave mild wines tasting like water. Avoid delicate whites like Italian Soave or South African chenin blanc. These lightweights don't stand a chance against a 'shroomy pasta's robust flavor. Go for something that will blend better; these three types will not only stand out, they will shine.
An easy-drinking red with deep flavor and mellow tannins is just the companion for earthy mushrooms. Try a Spanish tempranillo from Rioja. These food-friendly wines are much like pinot noir, only with a bit more character and a touch of smokiness that complements mushrooms, especially when combined with richer sauces.
A bubbly brut will cut through creamy sauces and has enough depth and complexity to complement a diversity of seasonings and meaty mushrooms. Made in the traditional French Champagne method, cava uses a blend of Spanish grapes to create a soft sparkler with plenty of weight to ride alongside umami-rich mushrooms. Bottle aging gives these creamy, effervescent whites an earthy, yeasty depth without adding to the price tag.
A sturdy white with tangy acidity is versatile enough to handle both hearty mushrooms and rich sauces. Look for unoaked chardonnays. These whites have enough heft to tackle robust mushroom dishes and acidity to slice through rich, creamy sauces and melted cheese.
The Wishing Tree, Unoaked Chardonnay, Australia, 2011 ($12) (pictured)