A glass of wine a day keeps the cardiologist away. Did you know that having a few servings of red wine each week can reduce your risk of heart disease? However, it can be difficult to determine which wines go with which foods when you’re trying to incorporate more wine into your diet. There’s no better combination than a heart-healthy Mediterranean meal and a glass of Italian wine, so try these four pairings with your next candlelight dinner.

Appetizers

A sparkling wine like Prosecco or spumante brut goes great with small appetizers before a meal. Try serving them in cocktails like a sweet peach Bellini or a refreshing spritzer and pair with breadsticks, olives or cheese.

Pasta with Tomato Sauce

A light or medium-bodied red wine is the perfect accompaniment for pasta with a traditional red sauce. Try a Chianti or dolcetto with a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, a Rosso di Montalcino with a hearty plate of gnocchi or a smooth merlot alongside a dish of penne with creamy sun-dried tomato sauce.

Desserts, Fruit and Pastries

Nothing pairs better with sweet after-dinner treats than Italian semi-sweet wines. Serve up a Stella Rosa semi-sweet wine with a decadent slice of chocolate cake or pair a light Moscato with a fruit platter or basket of sweet pastries. Indulgent fruit-flavored wines with notes of peach, blueberry or vanilla are sweet enough to be a stand-alone dessert.

Red Meats

You can bring out the big guns when you serve beef, pork or game meats. A full-bodied red wine can stand up to these savory flavors, so pour a glass of Taurasi, Amarone or cabernet when you serve up roast, beef stew, venison or pork chops. These rich wines also make a great addition to your holiday table.

Seafood and Chicken

Although white wine has fewer of the beneficial antioxidants that make red wine so healthy, the lighter taste pairs better with white meats like chicken and seafood as well as creamy dishes. A chardonnay or pinot Bianco is perfect for bringing out the subtle flavors in these dishes and won’t overwhelm even the heaviest alfredo or cheese sauce.

Although wine can be a healthful part of a balanced diet, remember that alcoholic beverages should always be consumed in moderation. Try not to exceed two drinks per day, and enjoy your wine with meals whenever possible. Evening is the best time to enjoy wine for better sleep and to avoid driving after consuming alcohol.

By Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.

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