We’ve been astonishing folks with this red wine spaghetti trick for years. And yet we still get a little giddy each time we start to pull out the ingredients. It’s an exceptionally brilliant way to toss together pantry staples such that what results doesn’t at all resemble a paltry supper. Not at all. Spaghetti is partially cooked as usual and then tossed in a pan with some red wine until it’s been absorbed. Five ingredients and 30 minutes are all it takes. A weeknight game changer.–David Leite
*What kind of red wine should I use?
There’s truth to the old adage that if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it. But there’s more to it than that—in a recipe that has only a few ingredients, then you want to be sure that you’re using the right wine. A very dry, medium-bodied red, like Chianti is a fantastic choice. Cabernet, pinot noir and merlot would also work well. Save anything too light or sweet for drinking yourself, as they’ll make your pasta too sweet.
Red Wine Spaghetti
- 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
- Salt, as needed
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling before serving
- 3 cups good quality, dry red wine*
- 3/4 cup aged D.O.P. Pecorino Toscano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Fresh basil, torn or finely chopped (optional)
- Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil.
- Stir in the spaghetti or bucatini and toss in a generous pinch of salt. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente, 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spaghetti.
- Drain the spaghetti well, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- In the meantime, in your largest skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the drained pasta and toss to coat with the oil.
- Gradually add the wine, 1/2 cup at a time, continually stirring and tossing until the red wine is absorbed by the spaghetti or buctaini, which can take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes. Think of it as cooking the pasta as you would risotto.
- When the wine is almost entirely absorbed, you can either plate it and sprinkle with the Pecorino cheese or, if desired, toss the cheese into the skillet and add about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and stir for another minute or so. Serve hot with a sprinkle of basil, if desired. Originally published October 27, 2009.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
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This red wine spaghetti was a wonderful, easy, and different dish. It was very simple to prepare, although it takes a little extra time to add the red wine and wait for it to absorb…but that’s just like risotto! The wine beautifully glazed the pasta resulting in a lovely flavor and presentation. I used the Pecorino cheese, which integrated well with the pasta and gave it a bit of a bite.
I’ll definitely make this again and next time may add some olives. I halved the recipe and served it as a side dish with baked chicken and sautéed spinach. At some point, I may add shrimp to make it a heartier main dish.
Sometimes after coming home from a rough day at work, all you want to do is eat a big plate of pasta with a glass of wine on the side. This red wine spaghetti recipe goes one step further by putting the wine IN the pasta. A definite thumbs up.
I used Lambrusco and Parmigiano-Reggiano and my skillet size was 10 inch.
Overall the recipe worked well; the pasta absorbed most of the wine within 5 minutes, the dish was tasty, and with the addition of bright green basil leaves, it was a perfect St. Patrick’s Day substitute for corned beef. Plus, you could still have the wine on the side!
I was pretty much thinking I wouldn’t enjoy this. Wine-soaked pasta sounds really awful to me somehow, even though I love those elements on their own or with a different sauce. But this recipe surprised me. For such a simple recipe, this was actually quite…lovely.
I opted out of basil as I didn’t have any in the house. I served it with garlicky sauteed onions and zucchini and found it quite a filling and delicious meal. I used Gnarly Head cabernet sauvignon and bucatini. I reserved about 1 cup of pasta cooking water and used about 1/2 of that, which worked well.
My skillet is a 12-incher. Cooking the wine and bucatini together until the liquid started to cook off took about 15 minutes, and then it took about 1 minute of stirring constantly at the end for things to really jell. But the texture at the end was JUST right—the noodles were nicely coated and the cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano) made for a nice finish, flavor-wise and texture-wise. Suits 4 perfectly.
This red wine spaghetti recipe is everything you could want: easy, delicious, and soaked with wine. With ingredients most have in stock at all times, you can have some elegant comfort food on the table in no time.
You definitely want to use a good-quality wine that’s mature enough to drink as the wine flavor is predominant (I used a Montepulciano). The addition of the cheese mellows everything out nicely. I didn’t add the basil at the end, but did use a healthy grind of pepper instead. When I started making the recipe I was worried that the wine flavor would be too sharp and that the pasta (I used bucatini) would get too mushy before the wine was fully absorbed. I needn’t have worried. The pasta held its shape and texture and the wine flavor was delightful.
I would recommend making this with bucatini (which are thick spaghetti tubes) because that shape lends itself to absorbing and holding the sauce created by the wine. This recipe is easy enough to be part of a multiple course Italian dinner or a quick date night meal that anyone who enjoys wine will love. I will be making this recipe again and again, trying different types of wine and pasta styles. Notes: Hands-on and total time was 30 minutes. This makes 4 generous servings or could be 6 as part of a multiple course dinner. I used a 2014 Montepulciano and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I used a 12-inch wok skillet to cook the pasta with the wine. It took about 13 minutes for the wine to be fully absorbed.
This meal was ready to serve in less than 25 minutes, was easy to put together, and was a perfect working-from-home-with-family lunchtime meal.
We used a light and fruity Grenache for the wine. The finished pasta was thoroughly delicious. The basil is listed as optional, but we would always serve with fresh herbs, with basil being the first choice. We used our 13-inch skillet and added the wine 1/2 cup at a time. With the heat turned up and the liquid at a brisk boil, all the wine was absorbed in 7 minutes. This makes 4 generous servings.
Easy, tasty, and quick to put together, we certainly will make this again.
This is an unusual pasta dish. I think it would be suitable for dinner when you want to impress someone. I was intrigued by the idea of cooking the pasta like risotto. I parboiled the pasta for 6 minutes and then added it to the largest skillet I had. It took a further 10 minutes over low heat to get the wine absorbed enough into the pasta to allow the addition of the cheese.
We grated some additional Pecorino cheese to serve on top. The wine was the first thing you tasted and while that wasn’t a bad thing it surprised me how pronounced the taste of the wine was. We did enjoy the pasta dish and found it was delicious. We had 4 generous servings.
We did have a serving leftover and we found that it was much mellower and quite pleasant the next day when reheated with some butter and more of the Pecorino cheese.