Looking for the best carbonara wine pairing? You’ve found your way to the right spot!
Carbonara, with its creamy sauce and savory notes, is one of my favorite pasta dishes. It’s both comforting and delectably rich. I love it as an easy weeknight meal. And it’s fancy enough to whip up for a dinner party too. Especially when paired with the right wine.
As a WSET-certified wine expert who loves experimenting in the kitchen, I’ve tried and tested various combinations. And I’m here to break down what types of wine work with carbonara pasta and why.
Plus, I’m sharing my go-to carbonara recipe – a dish I love to prepare and pair with a great wine!
BTW, if you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my free Wine Tasting Planner. It has 20+ wine night theme ideas, including the exact ones I’ve used for my wine tastings. Plus, a timeline, food pairings, games, free printables, worksheets, and more. Get your copy here.
How to Pair Wine with Carbonara
Historians think that the traditional carbonara recipe originated in Rome. The story goes that during the end of World War 2, American soldiers befriended local Italian families, giving them eggs and bacon to make into a pasta sauce. This idea was brought back to the United States, where it became a popular pasta dish.
Imagine a creamy sauce that, surprisingly, doesn’t use cream at all! Instead, it’s a mix of eggs and cheese (usually a combo of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano) that creates this silky texture.
Then, there’s the savory kick from guanciale (pork cheek) or pancetta (pork belly). Think of it as the Italian version of bacon. This adds just the right amount of saltiness. A dash of black pepper spices things up. And garlic adds that extra zing.
The pasta, be it spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini, catches all that glorious sauce and gives a satisfying chewiness to every bite.
When selecting a wine pairing with carbonara, you’ll need to balance the creamy texture and salty flavors. Choose a wine with enough acidity to cut through the richness. You want something crisp that will refresh the palate between bites.
And stick to a light-bodied wine that won’t overpower the subtle flavors of this tasty dish. It’s all about creating that perfect balance, where the wine and carbonara make each other taste even better!
The Best Wine with Carbonara
An Italian white wine with good acidity, like Frascati or Soave, is the best wine pairing for carbonara. It will cut through the richness and won’t overpower the dish. Sparkling wines, like Franciacorta, are also an excellent choice for cleansing the palate.
If you’re wondering whether to choose white or red wine with pasta carbonara, the best options are dry white wines with plenty of acidity. But light reds with high acidity, such as Barbera or Pinot Noir, can work too without overwhelming the flavors.
The Best White Wine to Pair with Carbonara
Going with what grows together goes together, the Italian wine Frascati is an excellent choice. This dry wine with a medium body is from the Lazio region in Central Italy. Which is also home to Rome, the suspected birthplace of carbonara.
It’s made from a blend of Malvasia and Trebbiano and has floral notes like orange blossom and flavors of citrus fruits. The best ones will be labeled Frascati Superiore.
Soave is another great white wine pairing for carbonara. This crisp wine is made from the Garganega grape in Northern Italy’s Veneto region.
Look for Soave Classico for bright acidity and ripe flavors of pear, red apple, and stone fruit that will be a perfect match with this savory dish.
You should get to know this up-and-coming sparkling wine before it becomes famous. Found in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, Franciacorta is often compared to Champagne. This is because it also goes through a secondary fermentation in the bottle and uses many of the same grape varieties.
The warmer climate gives it less acidity than its French cousin. But the bubbles refresh your palate between bites, making it a surprisingly good pairing. And a budget-friendly alternative to Champagne.
The Best Red Wine with Carbonara
If you want to go with a red, it should be a fruity red wine with good acidity and lower tannins. Barbera is found in Italy’s Piedmont (or Piemonte) region, where you’ll see it labeled Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba.
It makes wines with low to medium tannins that won’t overpower the dishes flavors. And the high acidity and fruity flavors of red cherry and plum balance well with carbonara’s richness.
Looking for more Italian dishes? Try wine pairing with Chicken Marsala and bolognese wine pairing. Or find out what wine goes with lasagna, the best pesto wine pairings, and the best wine with shrimp scampi.
And don’t miss my ultimate guide to pasta wine pairing.
The Best Wine for Cooking Carbonara Sauce
This recipe calls for a dry white wine. Since it’s only ¼ cup, you could use the Frascati or Soave if you chose one of those as your wine pairing.
But if you don’t want to sacrifice it, a decent-quality Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc would work well. Just don’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink on its own!
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Carbonara Pasta Recipe
- 1/3 pound pancetta or bacon
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated romano cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- salt and black pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 12 oz pasta (spaghetti or other long pasta)
- 3/4 cup frozen peas (optional)
- Fill a medium-sized pot with water. Add a large pinch of salt.
- Heat until boiling and add pasta.
- Cook pasta until al dente (slightly underdone). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Dice the pancetta or bacon.
- Smash the garlic with the side of a knife and discard the skin.
- Crack eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Add the grated Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, and some grindings of pepper. Mix together and set aside.
- Saute the garlic in olive oil in a large pan on medium-high heat until garlic is golden brown. Remove and discard garlic.
- Add pancetta or bacon to the pan and cook until edges begin to crisp. If desired, spoon off some of the fat.
- Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Let it cook off for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Add cooked pasta and egg mixture to the pan. Toss rapidly until pasta is coated with sauce and pancetta/bacon is mixed in. If desired, add some of the reserved pasta water to make it creamier.
- Add salt to taste. Garnish with parsley.
Did you try any of these wines with your carbonara? Which did you like best?