Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish known for its creamy texture and bold flavours, and the McWatters Collection Chardonnay’s complex flavours and balanced acidity make it the perfect wine to accompany this rich and savoury dish.
The wine’s name is a tribute to Harry McWatters himself, and we’re excited to share this fantastic wine with carbonara pairing with you. So let’s raise a glass to Harry McWatters and enjoy this delicious pairing!
Best Wine with Carbonara
Our coverage of BC Wine is getting an upgrade as we delve deeper into the art of wine pairing! Our Red Seal Chef has recently completed the Wines of British Columbia Ambassador Level 1, and is now registered for Level 2. Additionally, he has also enrolled for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 1, showcasing his commitment to mastery and excellence in our content.
With Steve’s evolving knowledge of the nuances and intricacies of British Columbia wines, we aim to offer you more insightful and captivating BC Wine Pairings!
What is Carbonara?
Traditionally, Carbonara is made with limited ingredients: guanciale, pecorino, egg yolks, black pepper and bucatini pasta. When we were shopping for ingredients at Valoroso in Kelowna, we were told in no uncertain terms to not include garlic in Carbonara, but onions were ok.
Well, we have a confession to make – we may have committed a culinary crime against traditional Carbonara! We know that garlic is a big no-no in this dish, but we just couldn’t resist adding a little extra flavour. And to really shake things up, we threw in some black pepper alongside the recommended crushed chilies. We hope our Italian friends at Valoroso won’t be too upset with us for this deviation from tradition.
But maybe the best part of traditional carbonara? Guancciale – the fancy Italian word for pig cheeks! This delicious cured meat is like the cooler, more flavourful cousin of pancetta. Sure, it’s a little fatty, but isn’t that the point of indulging in Italian cuisine like carbonara? Guanciale is seasoned with all sorts of tasty spices and left to cure for weeks, creating a savoury and tender meat that is perfect for adding depth to any dish.
Let’s not forget the cheese. Think of Pecorino as the fun-loving cousin of Parmesan – they may share some similarities, but Pecorino brings a little more personality to the party. Pecorino is made from sheep’s milk, which gives it a distinct tanginess that helps to cut through the richness of the dish. Parmesan, on the other hand, is made from cow’s milk and has a milder flavour that may not stand up as well against the bold flavours of the other ingredients in Carbonara.
Traditionally, Carbonara is made with bucatini pasta, a thick and chewy pasta that holds onto the rich and creamy sauce of the dish exceptionally well. However, in our recipe, we decided to break with tradition (again!) and use spaghetti instead. Spaghetti is thinner and smoother than bucatini, which gives it a lighter and more delicate texture.
What Wine Goes with Carbonara?
Carbonara’s rich and creamy sauce creates a heavenly combination with a range of wine options.
Chardonnay is a our preferred wine pairing for carbonara. Its full-bodied texture with a buttery finish and notes of oak and vanilla can balance out the richness of the carbonara sauce, while its acidity can cut through the creamy sauce and cleanse the palate between bites.
The McWatters Collection Chardonnay boasts a medium body and exudes aromas of buttery toast. Its complex, dry palate features flavours of subtle caramel, vanilla, and baked apple, making it a true delight for your senses.
Pictured below is Harry McWatters daughter, Christa-Lee McWatters continuing on his legacy pouring us a taste of their delicious McWatters Collection White Meritage at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
For those looking to elevate their Carbonara dining experience, sparkling wines are an excellent choice. Their CO2 content can help to degrease the succulence of the dish and balance its sweetness, while also harmonizing the fatty components. And don’t be afraid to choose a sparkling wine with plenty of bubbles for an added touch of incisive effervescence. The Chronos Brut comes in as an excellent choice here.
Our Best Ever Carbonara Recipe
Bucatini Carbonara Recipe
Here is our twist on the traditional Bucatini Carbonara Recipe.. Enjoy!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time16 minutes
14oz Dried Bucatini or Spaghetti Pasta
½ tsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
¾ cup Pecorino cheese
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
¼ tsp crushed chili flakes
6oz Guanciale or Pancetta
½ cup diced onion, ¼ inch diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
In a large pot, heat water and salt until boiling. Add the dried Bucatini or Spaghetti, reduce heat to med-high, and cook until the pasta is Al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
While the pasta is cooking, add the eggs and yolks to a large bowl and whisk for 1 minute. The eggs should just start to become frothy. Mix in the freshly grated Pecorino, parmesan cheese, pepper, and chili flakes. Set aside.
Remove the skin from Guanciale and cut into ¼ inch cubes. Add the Guanciale to a large sauté pan. Cook the Guanciale slowly over medium heat until golden brown and crisp for approximately 5 minutes.
Transfer the Guanciale to a bowl leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Add the diced onion to the pan and sauté over medium heat, until the onion softens for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the pan with fat and onion. Add the reserved cooked Guanciale and toss until pasta is well coated in fat.
Transfer pasta into the bowl with the reserved egg and cheese mixture. Use a spatula to scape all the rendered fat into the bowl. Add ½ cup of reserved pasta water. Stir well for about 1 minute, until the sauce becomes creamy and clings to pasta noodles. Adjust constancy of pasta sauce with additional pasta water if it’s too thick. The sauce should have the consistency of heavy cream.
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