What Wine to Pair With Stuffed Peppers

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Serve a medium-bodied red wine with stuffed peppers in tomato sauce.
Serve a medium-bodied red wine with stuffed peppers in tomato sauce. (Image: Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Your choice of red or white wine to serve with stuffed peppers has everything to do with the type of pepper you use, the stuffing mixture and any sauce you serve alongside it. As a general guideline, strong-flavored and meaty fillings and sauces work well with reds, while vegetarian fillings most likely work better with whites. Pairing your wine with the regional heritage of your stuffed peppers offers another way to make the decision and have fun with your menu.

Vegetarian and Fish Fillings

Since white wine pairs well with vegetarian and fish dishes, it also works with peppers stuffed with seafood, such as crab or shrimp; grains, such as couscous, rice or bulgur; and other vegetables, such as creamed spinach. A light, crisp wine such as sauvignon blanc or pinot blanc would work best with fillings that have lots of seasonings, such as Parmesan cheese or olives, while a more full-bodied white, such as chardonnay, would match with creamy seafood fillings.

Meat Fillings and Tomato Sauces

If your stuffed pepper filling contains meat or has a tomato sauce, a red wine gives you the stronger flavors that will match the meat and the acidic tomatoes. Choose a light, red wine such as pinot noir or zinfandel for mild meats like hamburger or ground pork. For stronger-flavored fillings with sausage, lamb or combinations of different meats, go with a more full-bodied wine, such as merlot, Burgundy or Montepulciano.

Hot, Spicy and Smoky Fillings

Spicy stuffed peppers made with hot peppers need wines that can stand up to the heat but that aren't overly tannic -- the wine shouldn't overpower other flavors in the peppers and the stuffing. For Mexican chile rellenos or peppers filled with spicy barbecue sauce, opt for wines with high acidity or spicy notes to match the spices in the peppers. Good choices include syrah, malbec, pinot noir, shiraz and zinfandel.

Ethnic Peppers and Regional Wines

Regional wines typically work well well with dishes from the same region because over times, traditional recipes develop in harmony with certain wines. For example, Italian Chianti wines go well with Italian herbs such as basil and rosemary that you might use for stuffing peppers. So too, a traditional Spanish salt cod filling for peppers might work with a bright white wine from Spain such as verdejo, which is similar to vinho verde from Portugal and sauvignon blanc.

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