Carbonara Wine Pairing

Published June 17th, 2022

Thanks to its incredible versatility, pasta can be used to create an infinite number of dishes.

From an organoleptic point of view, pasta (without the addition of seasoning) tends to be sweet due to the high starch content, but the different types of sauces and toppings, as well as the type of cooking, can strongly influence the general taste of the dish. So, when choosing the best wine for your pasta dish, you will always have to consider several factors and not just the natural tendency to sweetness of the pasta or rather the type of pasta.

Specifically, carbonara pasta is a classic first course of Italian cuisine, originally from central Italy. Traditionally Carbonara is made with spaghetti, but short pasta like rigatoni also has advantages. The sauce will remain inside the rigatoni making it even more delicious.

The Carbonara recipe always arouses many discussions, because everyone has its version.  Nonetheless, the traditional one is simple and uses poor ingredients: guanciale (salami made from pork cheek, similar to bacon), Pecorino Romano DOP, egg yolk, freshly ground pepper, and spaghetti. From time to time the pecorino can be replaced by parmesan. And, if guanciale is not available, you can opt for bacon, but cream, onions, parsley or anything else is forbidden. Well, at least if you want to call it Carbonara!

And once that is said, we can now look at the best wine for Carbonara.

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Rules for pairing carbonara with wine

Carbonara wine pairing is not rocket science, but it is essential to know the characteristics of the dish, which are varied and define a complex spectrum of flavors. This succulent recipe has a sweet tendency (due to the use of the yolk and the pasta itself) and a deliciously greasy consistency with a crunchy and bitter note given by the guanciale. And then the Pecorino Romano is very savory and the pepper, which should be ground in abundance, is pungent and persistent.

So it may seem difficult, but a few simple rules may help you finding the best carbonara wine.

Carbonara is a complex and tasty dish; for this reason the choice of wine must keep in mind the important structure. A wine that is too light would risk going unnoticed. On the contrary, the wine must have character and body to be on par with such a fragrant and rich dish, but not too much as to overwhelm the guanciale flavor.

Due to the notoriously fat component, the ideal wine must have a good acidity but some bubbles may also play the trick.

Pasta and yolks have sweet tendency, so the wine should have freshness and flavor to balance them.

Red, white or sparkling wine with carbonara?

The safest pasta Carbonara wine pairing is with a bottle of white wine, perhaps from central Italy, like a Frascati Superiore, a Malvasia Puntinata, or an indigenous Cacchione from Lazio, to recall the geographical origin of the dish.

Sparkling wines are also good, especially those produced with Classic Method, which has less aromatic character and a rounder body.

If you are a sucker for red wines, you’ll have to be careful, avoiding those that are too tannic, and opting for lighter wines with soft and velvety tannins, like a Pinot Noir.

The most important thing is to remember the basic matching rules and evaluate the body, acidity, and flavors of the wine to harmonize the food.

White wine with carbonara

White wine is often the first option with Carbonara. But the ideal white wine for Carbonara must be moderately structured and evolved, with some roundness in the mouth to withstand the succulence of the dish. 

The marked acidity of white wines will be providential to mitigate the fatness of the bacon, while a mineral note will be able to balance the sweet tendency of the yolk and pasta.

  • Frascati Superiore

    Frascati Superiore is the quintessential territorial match. Produced with native grapes of Lazio, such as Malvasia di Candia or Puntinata, Bellone, Bombino, and various types of Trebbiano, this wine has the creamy complexity and intriguing notes of citrus, almond, and hawthorn, which make it an unforgettable companion for Carbonara.

    Our suggestion: Frascati Superiore Riserva Luna Mater, Fontana Candida

  • Soave Classico

    With its elegant and balanced character and its fruity, savory, and balsamic flavor, Soave can create a pleasant and intriguing combination with Carbonara. This is the kind of white wine that can withstand the richness of the Carbonara and enhance its flavorful character.

    Our suggestion: Pieropan Soave Classico

  • Gavi

    A full-bodied, round and fragrant wine like Gavi is an excellent choice with Carbonara. Its elegant and delicate aromas, with hints of fresh fruit and white flowers, and its full flavor will be able to balance the succulence of the dish without overwhelming its flavors. Its acid backbone is exactly what is needed to cleanse the palate from the guanciale greasiness.

    Our suggestion: Gavi DOCG "Palás", Michele Chiarlo

Red wine with carbonara

The combination of red wine and carbonara is certainly the most dangerous. Red wine, in fact, risks making our taste buds lose the characteristic delicate creaminess of the yolk. This does not mean that pairing is impossible. The important thing is to focus on moderately structured wines to balance the flavors but with not too excessive tannins that would dry our palate too much and counteract the delicacy of the egg.

So, if you really can't do without red, it is advisable to opt for wines that play more on freshness than on tannins.

  • Pinot Noir

    Pinot Noir is obviously always the first choice when it comes to spaghetti carbonara wine pairing. The velvety tannins, the fruity aromas, and the delicate spicy notes make it perfect for this dish. Better to choose one from cool climates because it has the freshness and minerality suitable for the fatness and flavors of carbonara

    Our suggestion: Pinot Nero Riserva ‘Mazon Aegis’, Kollerhof

  • Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

    The light structure, and delicate taste, of a young Montepulciano  d’Abruzzo make it an ideal option for Carbonara. Thanks to its fresh and floral taste, reminiscent of crunchy cherries and fresh flowers perhaps, enriched with slight nuances of aromatic herbs are perfect for enhancing the flavor of the bacon. Its delicate freshness is ideal for degreasing, without covering, the taste of the sauce, based on egg yolks.

    Our suggestion: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC "Anfora", Cirelli

  • Bardolino

    Bardolino is a red wine produced from native Venetian vines on the shores of Lake Garda. It is a fruity and simple wine, with good acidity, and delicate tannins. It is the ideal partner to put on the table with a nice carbonara. The fresher but less structured rosé version (Bardolino Chiaretto) can be an excellent alternative.

    Our suggestion: Bardolino Classico DOC "La Doria", Bolla

Sparkling wine with carbonara

If you were wondering about sparkling wine and carbonara, be assured that dry sparkling wines are highly recommended for this dish, since the bubbles are able to soften the greasiness and succulence of the ingredients and cleanse the palate.

But it's best to avoid Prosecco, that could be too light and too aromatic for this dish. A classic method wine will have the right creaminess and structure to balance the recipe and the perfect freshness to withstand the flavor intensity.

  • Alta Langa

    Alta Langa sparkling wines are produced in Piedmont from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes. These are wines that age for at least 30 months and acquire a beautiful roundness. The classic aromas of apple, pear, peach, honey, yellow flowers, butter, hazelnuts, sugared almonds, and cream, are enhanced by a good balance of sapidity and freshness and a medium-bodied structure. All factors that make it a perfect companion for a tasty Carbonara.

    Our suggestion: Alta Langa Brut DOCG, Deltetto

  • Oltrepò Pavese Classic Method

    Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico is one of the great Italian sparkling wines together with Trentodoc, Franciacorta and Alta Langa. And the area is also, and above all, the cradle of the Italian Pinot Noir. Here this difficult grape achieves excellent results and produces delicious sparkling wines with notes of small red fruits as well as the usual hints of bread crust. In the mouth, these wines show good freshness, which gives vivacity and agility and makes them a top-notch pairing with a gourmet preparation like carbonara.

    Our suggestion: Oltrepò Pavese DOCG Metodo Classico Nero d'Oro, Bertè Cordini

  • Franciacorta

    Softness and bubbles are key elements to the match of Carbonara with sparkling wines. And the most prestigious Italian sparkling wine makes no difference in this. The Franciacorta, produced on the shores of Lake Iseo, are wines of great structure and long aging on the lees. They are magnificently elegant wines that give balance to the dish, enhancing its flavors. The rosé version, made with Pinot Noir grapes is the best pick.

    Our suggestion: Franciacorta Brut Rosé DOCG, Ca' de Pazzi