13 Wines To Pair With Garlic-Heavy Dishes

Choosing a bottle of wine to crack open with a meal doesn't have to require a sommelier certification. Unless you're seeking perfection with your pairing, there's generally a fair bit of flexibility when it comes to finding a match. Aside from various cooking methods and seasonings, a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Nevertheless, a small selection of food can wreak havoc on even the best bottle.

Garlic is a tricky ingredient to pair considering its wide-ranging flavor profile. It also contains sulfur compounds that can taste like certain wine faults, which hardly helps. Anyone who's consumed it raw knows that the taste is notably pronounced. Meanwhile, slow-roasted garlic takes on depth, blending seamlessly into a dish and enhancing its complexity. However, some foundational tips can help prevent a major flavor faux pas. For starters, acidity plays a key role, thanks to its palate-cleansing properties. Read on for our top picks to pair with your garlic-heavy dishes.

1. Albariño

Primarily grown in Galicia, Spain, albariño offers plenty of appeal for white wine lovers. It boasts fresh fruit flavors with notes of citrus and stone fruit, a hint of salinity from the nearby coast, and a floral touch to round it out. Most importantly, when pairing it with garlic, the acidity is on point.

That might explain why sauteed garlic shrimp is a Spanish specialty, as it makes an excellent match with the local wine. If you consider the effect of adding a squeeze of lemon juice to this dish, then it makes sense that the wine enhances the garlic-flavored recipe. Not to mention, the traditional Spanish preparation involves plenty of high-quality olive oil, which benefits from a zippy wine to wash it all down.

Aside from pairing this refreshing wine with its culinary soulmate, you can serve it with other seafood dishes that prominently feature garlic. Steamed clams and mussels are excellent options, as their brininess will match equally well with the wine.

2. Chablis

Chardonnay from Chablis, France, is a step away from the weightier styles that may come to mind when you think of this grape. Maturing wine in new oak barrels is uncommon, allowing the freshness of the variety to shine through. Given the northern location of the vineyards, these wines are high in acid and crisp on the palate. Notes of green apple, citrus, and minerality keep every sip lively and add to the cleansing nature of this wine.

Paired with a lemon and garlic butter poached fish or garlic and cream pasta dish, the result is meant to be. Take your French wine night to the next level by serving it with a helping of snails with garlic butter. The zingy acidity of the wine will reset your tastebuds for the next bite while standing up to the hefty dose of garlic.

If you can't get your hands on a bottle from Chablis or if there are no options in your budget (it can get pricey), look for an unoaked chardonnay from a cool climate region. Coastal Chile, Canada, Sonoma, Oregon, and Western Australia are some areas to explore for this style.

3. Grüner veltliner

Simply shortened as grüner, Austria's favorite white wine grape is a stellar stand-in pairing for hard-to-match vegetables. Brimming with aromas of citrus (lime, lemon, and grapefruit), herbal notes, and a telltale sign of white pepper, this wine exudes freshness. Along with a notable element of acidity, its flavor profile makes it a versatile match with food. It's worth noting that some styles of grüner undergo oak aging, adding depth and complexity to the wine while softening and rounding out the acidity. Delicious as it is, you may want to seek a simpler bottle for a garlic-heavy pairing.

The high-acid quality makes it a good complement for dishes that feature creamy sauces, aiolis, or sauteed vegetables. Grüner is commonly served with Asian cuisine, which often incorporates garlic into stir-fries or rich sauces. As well, the typical hint of white pepper in the wine provides another element of spice that matches garlic if it's added to a recipe with minimal cooking. Think grilled chicken with an herb and garlic chimichurri-style sauce.

4. Assyrtiko

When choosing a wine to pair with a dish seasoned with garlic, it's worth turning to cuisines that feature the ingredient in heavy doses. Greek food highlights garlic in dozens of dishes, from basic tzatziki sauce to roasted meats and grilled fish. With a simple combination of olive oil, lemon, garlic, herbs, and salt, most foods receive all the seasoning they need to enhance their flavor without taking over.

Naturally, Greek wines pair well with local foods; just pick up a bottle of assyrtiko and see for yourself. Originally from the picturesque island of Santorini, this white wine grape is now grown across the country. Typically produced as a dry wine, assyrtiko works wonders with seafood. Pour a glass to go with your favorite garlic-scented seafood spread, be it char-grilled garlic shrimp or a creamy butter and garlic pasta dish. Thanks to its rich textural quality, the wine is a worthy match for both lighter and heartier foods. The high acidity complements every bite like a squeeze of lemon juice, blending smoothly with your meal.

5. Picpoul de Pinet

There's definitely a trend when it comes to white wines that pair well with garlic, and much like when you're seasoning a dish, citrus and salinity shine through. Picpoul de Pinet from Southern France may not be on every wine list or liquor store shelf, but it would be a good idea to seek out a bottle if you're preparing a garlicky seafood dish anytime soon. While you'll be hard-pressed to find a large selection of it, a few vineyards in California are trying their hand at growing the French grape (though it will be labeled picpoul blanc since it is not grown in Pinet).

This coastal wine pairs well with food from the surrounding landscape and features notes of lemon, green apple, and delicate flowers to round it out. Drink it chilled with steamed mussels drizzled with a lemon, butter, and garlic sauce for the ultimate French seaside experience. Its high acidity makes it equally delicious with fried foods; consider serving it with fried calamari and aioli. Aside from its reliable crisp and refreshing qualities, picpoul de Pinet is generally very affordable.

6. Sancerre

Yet another high-acid white wine, Sancerre is a region in the Loire Valley, France, where the country's most iconic sauvignon blanc grows. If you're only acquainted with the varietal wine from New Zealand, Sancerre takes the aromatics down a notch and showcases citrus fruit and a stony minerality. High acid is a hallmark of the style, making it yet another suitable pairing for dishes that feature garlic.

Its citrusy tang makes it equally well-suited for pairing with seafood, and you're sure to be satisfied serving it with a plate of seafood pasta with lemon, garlic, and butter sauce. Steamed mussels with crusty garlic bread would fare equally well washed down with a glass of Sancerre.

If your go-to style of sauvignon blanc veers toward grassy and herbal aromas, try serving it with a dish seasoned both with garlic and fresh herbs. The overlapping flavor profile will be complementary and prevent the wine from overpowering the food or vice versa.

7. Fino sherry

If you only consider sherry as a cooking wine, you'll need to make some space in your repertoire for a bottle for drinking. There are various types of sherry, but the one that pairs best with sauteed garlic is fino sherry, made with the palomino grape. This style is dry and has a saline tang with notes of almonds, green olives, and lemon.

Thanks to its diverse flavor profile, it's a versatile pairing with a number of foods or simply as an aperitif. Not to mention, making fino sherry involves aging the wine with a layer of yeast to protect it against oxidation. This process introduces rich umami notes to the wine, which pair well with roasted garlic. Its salty taste makes it a natural match for seafood, and its acidity makes it a great palate cleanser. Several sauteed garlic shrimp recipes even call for fino sherry to deglaze the pan, so you can't go wrong serving a glass of the stuff alongside your meal.

8. Rosé

Once again, rosé shines with its versatility and ease of pairing. There are many types of rosés, and a wide range will satisfy your garlic pairing needs. Considering rosé's original home base is in Provence, France, it's not surprising it works so well with garlic, as several noteworthy local dishes heavily feature garlic.

An excellent example is aioli, an emulsion made with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice and commonly served as a side dip with foods like fried fish, roast potatoes, and crudités. Wash it down with a crisp glass of dry rosé and you're set for the next bite.

Meanwhile, Provençal sauce includes tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic, and onions, offering the perfect base for a fruity rosé wine. Serve grilled chicken in the sauce with a local grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blend, and taste how the balanced acidity and fruit notes complement the tomato and roasted garlic elements of the sauce. Aside from the Southern French style of rosé, seek out a Spanish tempranillo-based rosé for an alternative pairing for dishes showcasing roasted garlic.

9. Beaujolais

While weightier red wines might clash with garlic-scented dishes, lighter options can be an excellent complement to dishes with sauteed or roasted garlic. Beaujolais, France, may be known for its Nouveau style — young wines vinified shortly after harvest with a method that emphasizes fruity notes — but it offers plenty more as well. From Beaujolais Villages to the 10 Beaujolais Crus, there's something for everyone.

These wines are made with gamay, a grape that produces light-bodied wines with notes of black and red berries, violets, and earth. Notably, its higher acidity makes it a solid contender to pair with garlicky dishes. Thanks to its low tannin structure, it doesn't have any astringent qualities that might clash with the pungent allium.

Serve a lighter Nouveau or Villages style with spaghetti aglio e olio for an added element of fruit. Alternatively, pour a glass with roast chicken seasoned with garlic and served with potatoes, or try it with your favorite garlicky Chinese takeout dish.

10. Syrah

Syrah is grown in a variety of places and it provides a different flavor profile respectively. For this reason, we'd recommend choosing cool climate syrah over a heartier shiraz when pairing with garlic (although grilled steak with garlic butter would do well with the latter). Cool-climate syrah maintains its acidity, enhancing its suitability as a pairing for garlic. Look to the Northern Rhône (if your budget is high), Sonoma Coast, or Chile for tasty options.

This grape offers a rich palate with dark fruit notes, herbs, spices, black olives, and smokiness. Thanks to its herb-forward style, it works well with foods that feature these elements as well. Nevertheless, it's still a weightier wine than some, so you'll want to skip the delicate seafood pairings and look toward meat-based or grilled foods. Try pairing it with garlic-herb sausages, steak with chimichurri or garlic butter, or roast lamb seasoned with garlic. Chinese five-spice pork makes a solid pairing as well, thanks to the assorted spices and umami elements.

11. Prosecco

If you need an excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbly, let this be the sign. There's no need to splurge on Champagne for your garlic pairing purposes — this is an excellent place to let Prosecco shine. The Italian sparkling wine comes in a range of sweetness levels, so you'll want to stick with a slightly dryer style like brut or extra brut in most cases. This will ensure a pleasant balance of acidity to tame the aromas of garlic.

Consider serving a glass of bubbles to go with a sauce that features butter and garlic. Whether it's pasta, seafood, or a crusty piece of garlic bread, the Prosecco will wash your palate clean and prepare it for the next bite. Chicken or fish cooked with lemon and roasted garlic fares well with fruity Prosecco, too. Of course, serve a chilled glass with Italian appetizers such as bruschetta, salami, and garlicky olives to whet your appetite.

12. Pinot noir

Pinot noir gets a lot of love, and it's not surprising, considering its all-around good vibes. If you're looking for a lighter-bodied red wine to serve solo or with fish, pinot often stands out as a suitable option. With medium-high acidity levels and a silky texture on the palate, it makes a great pairing for dishes cooked with garlic.

Roasted poultry (namely duck or chicken) seasoned with garlic or sauteed mushroom dishes with mixed alliums are great places to start. As the garlic slowly cooks, it takes on layers of flavor that pair well with earthier styles of pinot such as from Burgundy. Similarly, fruity pinots from California offer a pleasant contrast to the umami notes. Try it with stir-fried garlic beef for a delicious match that infuses complexity into the wine while enhancing the dish. For a flavor-packed vegetarian pairing, season a giant portobello mushroom with garlic. You can also stuff some mushroom caps with a garlic and breadcrumb filling, and then cook them on the grill.

13. Chenin blanc

Recognized for its hallmark of acidity, chenin blanc is a multifaceted grape depending on where it grows. You'll find plenty of it from South Africa and the Loire Valley, France, where it offers a range of styles from still to sparkling and dry to sweet. Aromas of stone fruit, tropical fruit, and citrus can be present, as well as floral notes and hints of ginger.

Dry and both still or sparkling chenin make an excellent pairing with seafood. Think lightly poached white fish with a garlic butter sauce, steamed mussels with crusty garlic bread, and fried calamari or crab cakes with aioli. It's also a great palate cleanser for garlicky Greek dishes or served with a plate of spaghetti seasoned with garlic and Parmesan thanks to its bracing acidity. As far as white wines go, chenin carries enough textural weight to pair nicely with pork too — slow roast it with garlic for a savory sensation.