Pasta With White Wine Sauce

May 22, 2023
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland, prop styling by Anne Eastman, food styling by Lauren Lapenna
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This simple, bright—yet comforting—sauce features a couple of perks, the best being you can finish the bottle of white wine you'll use to cook as you’re enjoying your dinner. I like an easy-to-drink, dry white wine like pinot grigio, but you can also use sauvignon blanc or chardonnay for the best results here. You just don’t want to use a wine that’s too sweet and cloying. It’ll be the type of wine where, after you take the first sip, you think, Ahh, how crisp! Whichever wine you choose, the rest of the ingredients most likely already exist in your pantry or fridge. You can use this sauce for chicken, scallops, or shrimp, but we like it with just pasta since cooking pasta leaves you with one magic ingredient: that starchy pasta liquid that’s the key to many delicious sauces. Keep a measuring cup right next to the pot as you’re cooking so you don’t forget to scoop some out before draining. I for one have done it before and felt super sad for myself afterward.

You’ll also love this dish for its versatility. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with too much garlic, but definitely adjust to your own tastes. Got a shallot to use up? Finely chop and add with the garlic. Same goes for sliced mushrooms. Any bright, fresh herb can be thrown into the mix as well, or greens like spinach or arugula. Adjust the red pepper flakes if you want a little more of a kick, and if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, feel free to stir in some heavy cream for a heartier sauce. Use whatever you need and taste as you go. —Jill Baughman

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is a part of Wine Week—seven days celebrating all things wine—presented in partnership by our friends at Bread & Butter Wines.

This sauce is a weeknight hit, with a perfectly balanced mix of acidity (both from the wine and fresh lemon), silky richness from both butter and olive oil, and lots of freshness from aromatic Italian parsley. A good pasta wouldn't be complete without Parmesan cheese, which is added both during the cooking process—melded in deliciously to the sauce to help create that glossy finish called for—plus more just before serving.

What You'll Need
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pound long dried pasta, like bucatini
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan (about ⅔ cup), plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot of generously salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to package instructions, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes less than called for (the pasta will continue to cook in the sauce). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid before draining.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt the butter, then add the oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Increase the heat to medium, add the wine, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 7 minutes, until you can no longer smell the alcohol and the liquid has slightly reduced. Stir in the lemon juice and red pepper flakes, if using.
  3. Transfer the pasta and ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to the skillet. Gradually add the Parmesan, a handful at a time, then the parsley, all while tossing; season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, tossing frequently, for about 2 minutes, until all of the cheese is melted and heated through. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice. Add more pasta cooking liquid as needed, tossing, until a smooth, glossy sauce forms.
  4. Divide the pasta among plates or bowls. Top with more grated Parmesan. Serve warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sandy Castle
    Sandy Castle
  • FrugalCat
  • Smaug
  • amilner

5 Reviews

amilner June 20, 2023
I had leftover wine, and this recipe hit the spot. It was fast, pretty, and delicious. I didn't have parsley, so I subbed rosemary and sage from my garden. My husband, teenage daughter, and I all thought it was delicious. It did take longer to reduce the wine than stated in the recipe, but that was ok, as my pasta also had a longer cooking time. This was excellent. I will make it again the next time I have extra wine.
Sandy C. January 7, 2022
Delicious! I confess I forgot to reserve the pasta sauce so I substituted chicken broth. I added grilled chicken and it was perfect!
Sandy C. January 7, 2022
Pasta water 🤦‍♀️
Smaug May 24, 2023
The pasta water is really no loss.
FrugalCat December 25, 2021
I halved the recipe and used one of those 187 ml bottles of wine (from a 4 pack) as I am not a big wine drinker. The pasta- ziti (I don't twirl). Served this with garlic bread, turkey meatballs and sauteed spinach.