Carbonara is a rich and creamy pasta dish that combines the heavy flavors of cured pork and hard cheese to make one of Italy’s favorite entrees.
But what wine goes with Carbonara? Many wine enthusiasts don’t know where to start when it comes to pairing wine with an intense carbonara, and the fact that black pepper is the primary spice only further complicates the pairing.
Fortunately, there are a number of different wine styles that make for fantastic pairings with even the smokiest and most rich carbonara dishes.
What Wine Goes With Carbonara – Top 5 Choices
1. Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular wine grapes in the entire world, and it makes for a fantastic pairing with just about any spaghetti carbonara dish. This crisp white wine is light enough in body to not interfere with the heavy dish and contains enough acidity to not get lost.
The elevated acidity levels found in Pinot Grigio are what make it such a perfect white wine for a carbonara pairing. Many lighter white wines can get lost on the palate among the intense flavors of smoked meat, black pepper, and hard cheeses.
This iconic wine grape is mainly produced in its homeland of Italy, though the United States has established itself as a major producer as well over the past few decades. The best and most sought-after bottles of Pinot Grigio are produced in Northeast Italy today.
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Alto Adige is a mass-produced Italian Pinot Grigio that is widely distributed and can be found at major retailers all over the world. This affordable bottle carries striking amounts of acidity, making it a great match for heavy pasta dishes like carbonara.
Vie di Romans Dessimis Pinot Grigio Friuli Isonzo is considered by many critics and wine enthusiasts to be one of the best representations of the Pinot Grigio grape in the entire world. It carries high acidity while maintaining a perfect balance to achieve one of Italy’s best white wines.
2. Malvasia Trebbiano Blends
Many sommeliers believe that one of the best ways to find a great wine pairing is to select wines that are native to the area where the dish originated. This theory is confirmed by the pairing of Malvasia – Trebbiano blends and spaghetti carbonara dishes.
Spaghetti carbonara originated in Rome, and locals have been enjoying the harmonious pairing of this local white wine blend with the entree for centuries. These dry white wines provide great zest and many layers of flavor that bring out the smoky and spicy notes of the carbonara.
WineFolly is one of the most respected and relevant wine publications online today, and they have included this iconic Roman white wine blend on their list of “Roman Food and Wine Pairings” under the spaghetti carbonara section.
Monastero Trappiste di Vitorchiano ‘Coenobium’ Bianco Lazio IGT is a great example of a high-quality bottle of the Malvasia and Trebbiano blend that brings out the absolute best in both grapes. There are also enough layers of flavor to stand up to the weight of the carbonara.
Monastero Trappiste di Vitorchiano Coenobium Ruscum Bianco Lazio IGT is made by the same producer using the exact same blend of grapes, with the only difference being an extended period of fermentation, resulting in a more full-bodied wine.
3. Soave Blends
The historic Soave blend is produced in the Italian region of Veneto and is made using a combination of Garganega and Verdicchio grapes. A minimum of 70 percent of the blend must contain Garganega, though many producers exceed the required minimum.
What makes this classic Italian blend of white wines a perfect match for carbonara is the fact that it is very dry and contains a significant enough body to stand up to creamy dishes. In fact, many sommeliers look at the Soave blend as one of the most food-friendly of all white wines.
The Soave blend is one of the best options for dinner parties and large gatherings, as it is well known to be a “crowd pleaser” that can be appreciated by a wide variety of palettes. It is also fairly affordable, and some of the best bottles in the region can be found for under $30.
Pieropan Soave Classico is one of the most famous and widely distributed bottles of the Soave blend in the entire world. It can be found at restaurants all over the world and carries enough acidity that sommeliers often mistake it for Pinot Grigio in blind tastings.
Cantina Pra ‘Otto’ Soave Classico is another fantastic bottle of this Italian blend that is highly regarded by many wine experts and critics. Many consider it to be one of the best values in all of wine, as it has received a 91-point score from Wine Enthusiast and often costs under $20.
Rosé wines can make for fantastic food pairings with a variety of different pasta dishes, and they are often overlooked by restaurants and sommeliers when it comes to wine pairings. Rosés provide a unique balance of minerality and acidity, with a pleasant light pink color.
While many wine enthusiasts only think of Rosé as an outdoor or summertime wine, they account for some of the most serious and highly regarded wines in Europe that can make for ideal wine pairings with full-bodied creamy Italian dishes such as carbonara.
These light pink wines can carry tasting notes of red fruit and flowers, which work in contrast with the pork in the carbonara in the same way cranberry sauce brings out the best flavors of a holiday ham. Rosé is affordable and enjoyed by many, making it a fantastic option for parties.
Château Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose gained worldwide attention when it was revealed that the owners were movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. While this makes for a good conversation starter, the wine itself is of high quality and pairs great with most pasta dishes.
Château d’Esclans Côtes de Provence Whispering Angel Rose is an award-winning bottle of Rosé from the Provence region of France that makes for a fantastic pairing with especially smoky and spicy carbonara recipes.
5. Sparkling Wine
Many wine enthusiasts are unaware that sparkling wines are some of the most food-friendly styles on the entire menu, and make for great pairings that add texture and magnify the strong flavors of bold dishes.
While the Champagne region of France is the undisputed king of sparkling wine, there are many other regions around the world that produce high-quality bottles of bubbly that go great with Italian dishes. Many sommeliers also reach for sparkling Rosé when in a food pairing pinch.
Affordable bottles of sparkling wine like Prosecco are produced using the “tank method,” where large quantities of still wine are added to a large tank and carbonated together. This produces large bubbles, while the bubbles of Champagne are much smaller due to the traditional method.
Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux Brut is a fantastic bottle of sparkling wine that is produced using the traditional method. The delicate bubbles and bold acidic tasting profile of the apple work in harmony with the bold and creamy carbonara to elevate both the food and wine.
Dom Perignon Brut is one of the most famous bottles of Champagne in the entire world and can be found on the wine menus of top restaurants across the world. It is a tremendously food-friendly sparkling wine that can stand up to carbonara’s fat and spice of black pepper.