i looked at a few epicurious.com recipes, but each one has a different pairing. one recommends a pinot noir, one a sauvignon blanc, and one a chianti. those are all completely different styles of wine so now i feel even more helpless. i was leaning a little more towards the sav blanc, but i'm not sure that's the best choice. any suggestions?
I would go with Sauvignon Blanc, it is a pretty rich dish so the crisp bright nature of say a Loire Sauvignon Blanc should be lovely...maybe a Pouilly-Fume to match the smoky Panchetta.
The bacon/pancetta, Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs and garlic in this dish take this pairing out of the white wine zone and into the light red with good acid zone. Rose bubbles have the heft to stand up to the bacon smokiness, Parm and garlic. As well as the bubbles cutting through the richness. Love this dish, even though it's a little high in calories pour moi. Will confess I am a stickler for the classic version of this dish, but bacon is A-OK.
Your post reveals a very important fact re all the food and wine books and sites out there... it's as common as not that they DISAGREE about which wine(s) pair well with which meal(s)... I've not found any that I'd trust implicity...
That said, my favorite matches would be Valpolicella, Zinfandel, and Barbera... a nicely-fruited syrah can be quite nice as well... All work great with the totality of the dish, and specifically with the Parmesan, Pecorino, Pancetta, and garlic notes...
re: Chicago Mike
"Your post reveals a very important fact re all the food and wine books and sites out there... it's as common as not that they DISAGREE about which wine(s) pair well with which meal(s)... "
I agree completely. Often, they (the sites, books, etc.) can get one into the ballpark, but when it gets down to the final, nothing beats actually pairing the dish with the wine. Now, it's a luxury, that folk do not always have, but for big wine dinners, we'll do the dish(s) a week out and then head to the cellar. A couple of nights of tasting will usually eliminate many (often the "usual suspects") and yield a great pairing. Since this is often for a multi-course dinner, and I like to pair with each course, it does mean that we get to eat this meal seveal times, before the final night. Luckily, the dishes are always great, and then I'm too busy with our guests and the wine service (even if we have servers) to really indulge the night of the event. I've had many times, that every source (and my gut feelings) called for wine X, say a Zin, or a PN, and I ended up nixing them early on, and choosing something totally different. Sauces, ingredients, spices and preperations can change some of the interactions from great, to not so good.
For a "go with everything" (or almost everything) wine, I like Maria Lorraine's Brut Rosé. If I had to pick one wine to handle a broad spectrum of foods, without benefit of prior tastings, or direct knowledge of that specific dish, that would be what I would have in my kit.
Others have directly contributed to the OP's question, so I won't add, "me too, me too."
Champagne, pink or rich white. Otherwise a Chardonnay or Chardonnay-based blend (Chard-Erbaluce, Chard-Grechetto, etc.) with the oak kept in check. If a red tempts, the eggs mean you should avoid tannins (e.g. Chianti, Barbera, etc.) and high alcohol and high extract (Zinfandel and company) in favour of something supple, bright and light like a Bardolino.
I would normally suggest a taste test: buy a large number of different wines, open them all up and eat large quantities of carbonara while tasting each wine. But that might kill you. I adore carbonara, and love tasting wines, but even I would have to balk at this scientific experiment. For this reason, I think the suggestions of champagne are great: light enough to cleanse your palate and balance the overwhelming flavour of fat, but interesting enough (thanks to those lovely little bubbles) to stand up to the fat. hmmm. Perhaps I'll break my rule about eating carbonara only once a year to try this out! Thanks for the rec, other posters!