Wine Pairings for Spaghetti Carbonara
Bianco: Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium and Paolo Bea Santa Chiara
Rosso: Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Vigna San Valentino and Paolo Bea Rosso de Veó
Spaghetti Carbonara is simultaneously rich and light. That, of course, varies with your own riff on it. Nonetheless, what it needs is a wine that is equally middling – medium to full body, at least a hint of glycerol and fairly firm acidic support. Paolo Bea’s wine style fits all of these requirements. Bea is based in Umbria, the only landlocked region of “The Boot,” and Paolo’s son, Giampiero, consults to a monastery run by Cistercian nuns in near-by Lazio. These two cellars can provide a satisfying array of white and red wines for this pasta.
The nuns’ white wine is called Coenobium and one of Bea’s whites is called Santa Chiara. Both are highly unique in that they are fermented on their skins (usually this is only done for rosato and rosso wines). This gives the wines an additional oomph of tannins that works well in matching the Carbonara. Both wines share the floral Grechetto variety and are blends: Malvasia, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for the Coenobium and Verdicchio and Trebbiano Toscano for the Santa Chiara. They are creamy on the palate, too – just like the Carbonara. Oh, and don’t let the lightly orange color of the Coenobium disturb you. It’s intentional! Check out my recent post on orange wines to learn more about this style; these are whites that tend to drink a bit more like reds.
The nuns don’t make a red, but Bea makes two wines particularly fitting for this dish. First is the easy drinking Montefalco Rosso Vigna San Valentino, a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Sagrantino, aged exclusively in stainless steel. Second, his red Rosso de Veó is 100% Sagrantino, indigenous to Umbria, aged in stainless steel and old barrels. This is yet another pasta that won’t find harmony with very much new oak; a tiny bit can work with the pork, but only a tiny bit.
Be warned, all of these wines are distractingly drinkable, so if you like to sip while you cook, be sure to have more than one on hand for the table!
Check out our recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara and our About post on the history behind the dish.
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)