Fruity red wines with a touch of acidity, such as Pinot Noir, Chianti Classico, Barbera, or Montepulciano, pair best with Pasta alla Carbonara as the wines cut through the creamy white sauce without overwhelming the delicious bacon, butter and cheese flavours. White wines, such as Pinot Grigio, Soave, Gavi, or Riesling, are also excellent choices with Carbonara Sauce.
Best Wine with Pasta Carbonara
|Red Wine||Chianti Classico (DOCG)||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Sangiovese||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Pinot Noir||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Montepulciano d'Abruzzo||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Soave Classico||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Gavi di Gavi / Cortese di Gavi (DOCG)||Pasta Carbonara|
|Sparkling Wine||Prosecco||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Barbera DOC||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Frascati Superiore White, Dry||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Montefalco Rosso||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Chablis||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Picpoul de Pinet||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Teroldego||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Pinot Grigio||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Valpolicella Classico / Rosso||Pasta Carbonara|
|Red Wine||Amarone||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Oriveto Classico Superiore (DOC)||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Pinot Bianco||Pasta Carbonara|
|White Wine||Riesling||Pasta Carbonara|
Chianti Classico & Pasta Carbonara Pairing
Chianti Classico is an Italian red wine that is exceptional with Pasta Carbonara as it’s fruity, herbal, smoky and acidic. The acidity of Chianti Classico cuts through the rich butter and cheese, bringing out the full flavour of the Carbonara sauce. Meanwhile the herbal, smoky and earthy notes of Chianti Classico bring a little taste of Italy to the table as well as complementing the earthy bacon flavours.
The true star of Pasta Carbonara is the bacon or ham you’ve all tossed in. In North America, we love our bacon. Heck, you can even buy bacon-scented soap or air fresheners nowadays. While flavourful, bacon can be overwhelmed by a heavier red, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or a Bordeaux. With Chianti Classico, the wine matches the weight of the Carbonara Sauce, meaning you taste both the wine and sauce on the finish.
Bacon and ham are salty, and the fruity cherry and strawberry flavours of Chianti Classico are refreshing against the salt, fat and carbohydrates in your Carbonara sauce. The acidity of Chianti also frees your taste buds from all the fat that are clogging up your taste buds. Egg, butter, bacon, cream, cheese and olive oil are all blended into your Carbonara sauce, and these fats end up coating your tongue and cheeks. Eventually, this coating gets thicker and thicker until you can barely taste anything. With acidity, every sip of wine washes this coating away, making every bite taste fresh.
On every bottle of Chianti Classico, you’ll find a black rooster on the neck that guarantees the quality of this reasonably priced red wine. You may find Chianti without the black rooster, and these wines can be just as delicious. Chianti Classico means the wine was made in the original region of Chianti. As the wine gained popularity, the border regions changed and expanded, and anything that falls outside this circumference is called Chianti. Finally, Chianti Classico must be 80% Sangiovese grape, whereas Chianti must be 70%. With Chianti Classico being guaranteed more of the Sangiovese grape, it’s often why I recommend it over Chianti on its own, as it will deliver a more authentic Chianti experience.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo & Pasta Carbonara Pairing
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is an inexpensive Italian red wine from the Abruzzi region, that is fleshy and rich with inky dark fruit flavours and earthy with notes of licorice, olives, violets, spice and black pepper. Medium in both tannin and acidity, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has enough weight to hold up to but not dominate your Carbonara sauce.
The earthy notes of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo complement the ham or bacon in your sauce, while the high-fat content of the Carbonara sauce subdue the tannin in the wine and smoothing out the flavours. Hence, all the refreshing blackberry, black cherry, and plum flavours of the wine pop out when the food and wine mesh.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo isn’t for everyone. It’s funky, earthy, fat and intense, which is a far cry from the fruit-forward and vanilla sweetened wines we reach for in North America. Thus, if you were holding a dinner party, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo isn’t the red wine you’d want to choose. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is for a quiet evening alone or with a loved one where you can reflect on the rich and creamy flavours of the Carbonara sauce as it dances with the earthy and fat flavours of Montepulciano.
Pinot Noir and Pasta Carbonara Pairing
Pinot Noir is a light and fruity red wine with plenty of acidity to cut through the rich Carbonara sauce. Thus, with every sip of wine, you end up tasting the creamy flavours of the sauce, along with the subtle and earthy bacon flavours. Without acidity, we often find ourselves cramming food into our mouths, trying to recapture those first few delicious bites. However, it’s impossible without wine, as the fatty Pasta Carbonara clogs up our taste buds. With acidic wine, such as Pinot Noir, the fats are scrubbed away, and you end up eating far less as your are sated and satisfied much earlier.
Along with vibrant notes of strawberry, cherry and cranberry, Pinot Noir is known for its funky and earthy flavours, which complement the pork flavours in your Pasta Carbonara sauce. Pinot Noir loves both bacon and ham, and both the wine and pork show off the best each other has to offer.
You’ll rarely see people recommending Pinot Noir with Pasta Carbonara as some consider it a punishable crime by death if you don’t recommend Italian wines with pasta dishes. I am exaggerating here, but most of the pairings are based on ‘tradition’ when I read food and wine pairing articles. While tradition is important, we also live in a global world that is changing rapidly. Yes, it is important to hold on to classic family recipes, but we also need to experiment with new food and wine pairings and create our own traditions. Heck, it’s not even like wine tastes like it did traditionally. Climate change, advanced technology, consumer tastes and improved wine education have all altered how wine (and even food) tastes.
Finally, we don’t know the true origins of Pasta Carbonara. Some say it has its origins in Lazio Italy, and other sources state that Pasta Carbonara may have been during the 1940s when US Soldiers were stationed in Italy. So don’t worry, no Italian grandmother is going to burst out of the kitchen and shame you as she shakes her rolling pin at you should you enjoy this amazing pairing of food and wine. Nor is your waiter going to shout out ‘Sacre Bleu’ after you make your order and embarrass you.
Soave Classico & Pasta Alla Carbonara Pairing
Consider me the world’s biggest hypocrite because after going on a minor rant about not having to pair Italian wine with pasta, here I am suggesting an Italian white wine. Soave Classico is an invigorating and refreshing white wine with plenty of acidity to cut through the rich Carbonara sauce. With Soave, you immediately get floral notes on the nose, followed by flavours of apples, pears, peaches and citrus. You’ll also find flavours of almond, herbs, minerals and spice, which go well with the bacon or ham element of Pasta Carbonara.
Soave is a blended white wine mostly made from the Garganega grape, however, you may also find Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Trebbiano (either Trebbiano Toscano or Trebbiano di Soave) blended in there as well.
I recommend Soave Classico over Soave, as Classico is medium-bodied and lower in alcohol, where Soave tends to light-bodied. What Soave Classico means is that the wine was produced in the original Soave region, whereas Soave refers to wines that fall outside that radius when the growing region expanded due to Soave’s growing popularity. Soave Classico, especially when the wine is produced with Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave offers plenty of weight on the palate, with clean melon flavours. When blended with Chardonnay, the Chardonnay grape is used more as ‘filler’ which gives Soave its delicious but not so interesting apple and citrus edge.
Italian Pinot Grigio & Pasta Carbonara
Okay, I get it, I’m recommending another Italian wine with Pasta Carbonara. However, the reason I’m recommending Pinot Grigio is that it’s popular, a crowd pleaser, and it’s everywhere. Thus, if you are eating Pasta Carbonara in a restaurant, you’ll find it by the glass (provided they offer wine), and if you have a dinner party at home, Pinot Grigio will go over splendidly.
Italian Pinot Grigio is a light and fruity white wine that is neutral in flavour. I am not a Pinot Grigio enthusiast and consider it the equivalent of light beer. And there’s nothing wrong with this. Both Pinot Grigio and light beer are some of the best-selling beverages on the market. Pinot Grigio has plenty of acidity to cut through the rich Carbonara sauce while refreshing your palate with fruity notes of citrus, pears, and apples. You’ll even find a hint of smoke and minerality in Pinot Grigio, which will complement the bacon in your Carbonara sauce.
Other countries offer Pinot Grigio as well, where you may see it as Pinot Gris. These tend to be bolder in flavour and will be just as delicious with Pasta Carbonara.
As a wine enthusiast, I’d rather sing the praises of other white wines, but unfortunately, you’ll often never see these offered by the glass as they are not popular choices. However, if you are buying a bottle for enjoying at home, you can refer to the chart above for some more interesting white wines to experiment with.