The best wine to pair with Cacio e Pepe is a bolder style Rosé as it is refreshing yet complements the pasta dish with notes of herbs and spices. If you are a red wine drinker, fruity and refreshing red wines with a hint of spice, such as Beaujolais, Pinot Noir & Chianti Classico Pair well with Cacio e Pepe. Finally, white wines that are expressive but also acidic, such as Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and Friulano pair well with Cacio e Pepe.
Cacio e Pepe is an Italian dish that is made from Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and spaghetti pasta. While the ingredients are simple, Cacio e Pepe is rich with flavour as the cheese is quite salty and tangy, while the black pepper contributes a spicy kick.
Chablis is an unoaked Chardonnay from France which is known for its crisp acidity and notes of chalk, flint, lemon and minerals. The acidity of Chablis cuts through the creamy richness of the Pecorino cheese, while the sea breeze, stone and mineral flavours complement the saltiness of the Cacio e Pepe.
In addition, Chablis’s lemon and green apple flavours offer plenty of refreshment against the saltiness and the spiciness of Cacio e Pepe. Oddly, lemon also goes well with the flavours of black pepper, as the lemon softens the kick of the pepper while also bringing out its more delicate flavours.
Rosé & Cacio e Pepe Pairing
For this pairing to work, you’ll want a bolder Rosé as the spicy black pepper flavours of Cacio e Pepe will crush lighter versions of Rosé. Rosé is an acidic and dry wine that is bright with cherry, raspberry, and strawberry flavours. You may also find notes of white pepper, herbs and minerals, which complement the saltiness and black pepper flavours of Cacio e Pepe.
When I eat Cacio e Pepe, I feel like I’m in a boxing match, as going the distance is exhausting. While I love the rich flavours of the cheese, the richness also coats my tongue, dulling my senses, so by the fourth bite, I taste none of the pasta or cheese. Meanwhile, the black pepper keeps smacking me in the face, tiring me out. Fortunately, the high acidity of Cacio e Pepe cuts through the Pecorino Romano cheese, washing all the salts and fats away. Simultaneously, the cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavours rush in, refreshing me from the strong black pepper and saltiness of Cacio e Pepe.
I also rate Rosé fairly high as it’s one of the more accessible and budget-friendly wines listed in the table above.
Beaujolais Villages & Cacio e Pepe Pairing
Cacio e Pepe is a tricky dish to pair with wine as the pepper’s spiciness and heat and the cheese’s saltiness pull you in opposite directions. Beaujolais helps balance this out as the high acidity of Beaujolais cuts through the rich Pecorino cheese, while the low tannin of Beaujolais prevents the wine from clashing with the black pepper.
Fleurie – Beaujolais Cru, is an even better pairing with Cacio e Pepe. Beaujolais Cru is a superior version of Beaujolais Villages (the best grapes picked are used, more care is taken into making the wine, etc), however, due to the high quality and lowish price, Fleurie wines often get snapped up super fast in North America when they ship, meaning they may not be available year-round, making them difficult to find.
With all that said, Fleurie has all trademark red fruit of strawberry and raspberry of Beaujolais Villages but also has a savoury, peppery finish that will drive you wild with Cacio E Pepe
Greco di Tufo & Cacio e Pepe Pairing
Greco di Tufo is a white wine from Italy that is known for its full-bodied flavours of green apple, lemon, peaches, herbs, and minerals. The full body of Greco di Tufo ensures that all the clean flavours of the wine do not get washed away by the boldness of Cacio e Pepe. Meanwhile, the crisp fruit flavours proved a refreshing contrast to the spiciness and saltiness of this pasta dish.
Pinot Grigio & Cacio e Pepe Pairing
Pinot Grigio is an okay pairing with Cacio e Pepe. I say this with a certain level of bias as I find Pinot Grigio rather boring and plain. I’ve always considered it the Coors Lite of the Wine World in that it is lightly flavoured water.
Still, there’s no denying that people in North America love their Pinot Grigio, as it is the best-selling white wine over here. Plus, it’s often low-cost and super accessible and will certainly be offered by the glass at any restaurant serving Cacio e Pepe.
The low rating (which is still a good rating) factors in as Pinot Grigio is too light to stand up to the bolder flavours of Cacio e Pepe. Thus, you might not notice the flavours of citrus, apple, lemon, peach, pear, mineral and smoke Pinot Grigio brings to the table.
With that said, Pinot Grigio is crisp and acidic thus it will do a reasonably good job of cutting through the richness of Cacio e Pepe. In addition, Pinot Grigio is refreshing, so it will wash all the saltiness and spicy black pepper flavours of the dish. Thus, while there are better pairings, if Pinot Grigio always puts you in your happy place and you’re not open to experimenting with a new white wine – Pinot Grigio will pair just fine with Cacio e Pepe.