Pasta Carbonara and Wine Pairings
Looking for the best carbonara wine pairing? Want an easy spaghetti carbonara recipe that’s great for weeknight meals or last-minute dinner parties? Read on to learn how to choose the right wine and get the recipe!
The great thing about pasta carbonara is that it’s quick to make. It’s basically like breakfast on pasta. Just combine some bacon, egg, and cheese with some hot pasta and, voilà! You’ve got a gourmet meal.
I like to get creative and throw in some fresh or frozen veggies, like peas or asparagus.
The pasta historians (if that’s a thing) believe the traditional recipe for carbonara came from Rome. The rumor is that during the final days of World War 2, American soldiers made friends with local families. They would bring them eggs and bacon and ask them to turn it into a pasta sauce. The soldiers brought the idea back to the United States and it became one of many beloved pasta dishes.
In Italy, it’s often made with smoked pork jowl (or pork cheek). But I can’t exactly go down to my local Market Basket and ask the butcher for that. So, pancetta or bacon work just fine.
Carbonara Wine Pairing
When it comes to pairing wine with carbonara, the fattiness of the bacon or pancetta normally calls for the tannins of a full-bodied red. Especially when combined with the pecorino romano and parmesan cheese. But you also need something that will balance the sweetness of the pasta and egg yolk.
If you’re wondering whether to choose white or red wine with carbonara, the best options are dry white wines with plenty of acidity. But here are a few types of wine that will be a great match with this tasty dish.
White Wine Pick: Frascati or Soave
If you want to go with what grows together goes together, the Italian wine Frascati would be 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, citrus, and orange blossom notes. The best ones will be labeled Frascati Superiore.
If you can’t find Frascati, Soave would be another great option. This crisp white wine is made from the Garganega grape in Northern Italy’s Veneto region. Look for Soave Classico for high acidity and ripe flavors of pear, red apple, and stone fruit that are sure to please your taste buds.
Sparkling Wine Pick: Franciacorta
You should get to know this rising star before it becomes famous. Franciacorta is often compared to Champagne because it’s also bottle fermented and uses many of the same grape varieties. But the warmer climate of Northern Italy’s Lombardy region results in lower acidity. And the primary use of Chardonnay gives it stone and tropical fruit flavors.
Red Wine Pick: Barbera
If you really 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, with high-quality ones labeled d’Asti. It makes wines with low to medium tannins, high acidity, and fruity flavors of red cherry and plum that will work well with this dish.
Best Wine for Cooking Carbonara
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!
Pasta Carbonara and Wine Pairings
- 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.
- If you want to add peas, cook them in the pan used for the pancetta/bacon. Just remove the meat while they cook and then add it back when combining all the other ingredients.
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