Meatloaf wine pairing

Published December 31st, 2022

Meatloaf is the king of comfort dishes. A traditional American classic that can be made with a variety of ground beef, pork, turkey, or lamb, and it is usually served with mashed potatoes or vegetables.

Meatloaf wine pairing.

But the origins of this hearty recipe are very ancient as the earliest known records of meatloaf are found in an ancient Roman cookbook. Further mentions appear in 17th-century French cuisine and the culinary works of the 18th-century Pennsylvania Dutch.

But it was with the industrial revolution and the invention of the mechanical meat grinder that meatloaf became really popular. It then flourished during the Depression and other economically difficult times.

There are many meatloaf recipes and lots of them are linked to local and family traditions. This dish is extremely versatile and the variations for both the sauce and the filling are countless.

In our article, we will talk about the characteristics and taste of this dish, and we will propose to you our favorite meatloaf wine pairing.

Meatloaf wine pairing: the basics

Meatloaf is a dish with many variables, but its basic version usually contains ground beef, onions, breadcrumbs, spices, and herbs. Everything is mixed and then cooked in the shape of a loaf.

The meaty texture and presence of the onions and herbs calls for red wine, especially something with intense flavors, and lively acidity. Tannins are also essential. In fact, firm tannins are softened by the meat allowing the wine to have a more vibrant character, but they can contrast with tomato-based sauces.

As we have mentioned, there are many variations of meatloaf, and sauces or extra ingredients or side dishes can play an important role in pairing. If a version with barbecue sauce or with the addition of chili will be complemented by a red with spicy tones, a ketchup glaze, on the other hand, will not like too gripping tannins. With mushroom meatloaf, on the other hand, it's better to choose a wine with earthy references.

Best wine with meatloaf - Merlot.

Best wine with meatloaf

The wine that goes with meatloaf best is red with an intense and rustic flavor. If the perfect pairing exists, we recommend trying your meatloaf with a juicy and hearty Merlot.

Our suggestion: Tilia Merlot

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Best red wines with meatloaf

The best wine pairing with meatloaf includes red wines with fresh and intense fruity aromas. A medium-bodied wine with soft tannins will be able to balance the flavors well and support the succulence of the dish without overpowering it.


Zinfandel is a red wine with bold flavors that pair perfectly with red meat. The balance between the marked acidity and moderate tannins makes it sumptuous, complex, and quite dynamic, despite its massive structure and high alcohol content.

The light tannic backbone makes it perfect even for those recipes that include tomatoes or ketchup. In short, a wine like Zinfandel, bold and rich in aromas of dark fruit, black pepper, and spices, can match the succulent flavors of the dish well, creating a delicious meatloaf pairing.

Our suggestion: CaliPaso Zinfandel

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful and structured wine, rich in tannins and aromatic substances. Its scents are reminiscent of those of the forest such as blueberries, currants, and blackberries. The high quantity of tannins allows it to accompany juicy red meats.

With simple meatloaf Cabernet is the ideal wine because it masks any dryness with its fruity flavors of cassis and blackberry and brings notes of leather, smoke, herbs, and chocolate to the taste, which add a touch of complexity in every bite. The best choice is a medium-bodied young wine that is not too complex.

Our suggestion: Wakefield Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon


Syrah is a vine of French origin that produces wines with good structure and balanced tannins. In Australia, where this variety has found its second homeland, Syrah produces wines with intense aromas of fruit and spices and intense tones.

The spicy notes, especially of pepper, typical of this vine go perfectly with meatloaf because they enhance the flavors of the meat by adding depth. Furthermore, Shiraz wines, especially those from Australia, have the right texture for the meaty structure of the meatloaf.

Our suggestion: Yalumba Y Series Shiraz


Merlot is a red wine extremely suitable for food, which however gives its best with meat-based dishes, especially those based on beef. It is a juicy and round wine which in its younger versions is captivating thanks to the fruity and easy-to-approach aromas.

Its soft and velvety texture and its fruity and herbaceous flavors are ideal with meatloaf because they complement and enhance the flavors of the dish without overpowering them. It is also the best wine for meatloaf served with tomato sauces or with a side of green vegetables and mashed potatoes.

Our suggestion: Veneto Merlot IGT, Bosco Levada


Valpolicella is a red wine from Northern Italy, produced in the same area and with the same grapes as Amarone, but with a production method that makes it much lighter. It is in fact a wine with good acidity, very light tannins, and a light body. The aromas are those of Amarone, but fresher and less intense: black cherries, thyme, berries, flowers, and a very light final touch of almond.

The lack of tannins makes Valpolicella ideal with meatloaf covered in ketchup-based sauce. The red fruit flavors are light and vibrant enough to offer a refreshing counterpoint to the meaty, savory flavors of the meatloaf.

Our suggestion: Valpolicella DOC "Pietro Junior", Pietro Zardini

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Montepulciano is a medium-bodied red wine produced in the regions of central Italy. It is a wine characterized by delicious hints of ripe fruit, but also of sweet spices. With the aging in wood, the wine tends to take on delicate vegetal and coffee, bark, and dark chocolate notes.

The structure is moderately robust and this makes it particularly suitable for meatloaf. The soft tannins and the right acidity manage to complete the meat and vegetables, cleaning the palate with the right structure.  Undoubtedly,  Montepulciano makes a great wine pairing for meatloaf wrapped in bacon.

Our suggestion: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC "Cadetto", Castorani


Sangiovese is the most important red grape variety in Italy and certainly one of the most versatile in combinations with food. In fact, under the right conditions, Sangiovese gives extremely fine wines of great longevity, but it also produces everyday light wines.

Its aromatic profile reveals primaries of plum, cherry, and blackberry to which can be added those deriving from the wood in which it is aged, such as vanilla, coffee, and cocoa. It is a wine with marked acidity and important tannins, which goes very well with beef and vegetables. It is a succulent, round, and fleshy wine that knows how to enhance the flavors and texture of meatloaf well.

Choose a relatively young wine with fresh flavors so as not to complicate the pairing too much.

Our suggestion: Toscana Rosso IGT "Achille", Tenuta I Colli, Bindi Sergardi

Turkey meatloaf wine pairing.

Turkey meatloaf wine pairing

Turkey is a lean meat with a delicate and pleasant taste and due to its lightness, the ground turkey used in meatloaf allows for variations with different textures and flavors. In this case, the use of various herbs and spices is more evident than in the beef meatloaf where the seasonings can be somewhat overshadowed by the more robust flavor of the meat.

Furthermore, turkey is a leaner meat and therefore requires much less tannic support. It is therefore possible to combine both white and red wines according to the seasoning and personal taste.

However, the best wine pairing with turkey meatloaf is Pinot Noir, especially in the case of a young and intensely fruity wine. The high acidity of Pinot Noir makes it ideal with meatloaf in a creamy mushroom sauce or gravy. The medium body and rustic, fruity flavor of the wine rounds out the meatloaf's flavor profile.

Our suggestion: Matua Pinot Noir

Can meatloaf be paired with white wine?

Choosing what wine goes with meatloaf is pretty simple. Despite the many possible variations, meatloaf is a substantial and succulent dish. Because of the ingredients used, meatloaf is best paired with red wines.

White wines normally have a structure that is not suitable for supporting the texture and flavors of the beef as well as the various seasonings. The acidity is often too high for beef and, on the other hand, white wine could easily be overwhelmed by the intensity of the flavors of meatloaf.

But if the meatloaf is turkey or possibly pork, then some combinations with white wines are possible. For example, with turkey meatloaf, a medium-bodied white like a rich and fruity Argentine Chardonnay can be a great choice. A South African Chenin Blanc can provide the right texture, while a Californian Viognier will certainly have the necessary roundness and fruity vein.

Our suggestions: Porter Creek Hayley Marie Vineyard Viognier, Zuccardi Q Chardonnay, Joostenberg J. Chenin Blanc


Simple, tasty, and substantial, meatloaf is enhanced in combination with a medium-bodied red wine with full fruity flavors. There are many wines to pair with, just read through our selection and experiment with your favorite meatloaf wine pairing.