A creamy dreamy, and somewhat decadent white wine pasta sauce with butter and garlic that you can whip up in just 15 minutes.
White wine is something of a superpower for adding complexity and depth of flavour to creamy sauces, bringing a unique acidity and fruitiness that cuts through the richness. It's a key ingredient in many pasta and rice recipes including my Instant Pot Paella, Easy Smoked Haddock Risotto and Gorgonzola & Pear Risotto.
Or for another creamy sauce with white wine try my Crème Fraîche Sauce with Mustard and Dill.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
5 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Super speedy. On the table in just 15 minutes
- Utterly delicious: Rich, fruity, and tangy flavour in every mouthful.
- Fresh herbs. Parsley and dill add freshness that cuts through the richness of the sauce.
- Guaranteed to impress. Perfect for a dinner party or date night in.
- Adaptable. Serve with your favourite pasta or ravioli.
🛒 Key ingredients:
The key ingredient that brings depth and complexity to the sauce, while also balancing the richness of the cream. Plus, using the same wine for cooking and drinking with the meal creates a harmonious and seamless dining experience.
You'll want to choose a white wine that is dry, crisp, and has a good level of acidity. Avoid sweet wines that will make the flavours in the dish unbalanced.
Here are a few options:
- Sauvignon Blanc: This is often my go-to, with its bright, zesty flavours and high acidity.
- Pinot Grigio: This light-bodied wine has a crisp acidity and a delicate flavour that won't overpower the other ingredients in the sauce.
- Chardonnay: If you prefer a richer, creamier sauce, Chardonnay can be a good option. Look for an unoaked or lightly oaked version, as heavily oaked Chardonnays can be too overpowering.
- Vermentino: This Italian white wine has a bright acidity and a slightly herbal flavour that can complement the herbs in a pasta sauce.
I find the sauce goes best with long pasta like spaghetti or linguine, but feel free to choose the pasta shape you fancy.
Note that the recipe has not been tested with the below substitutions and variations, so the results cannot be guaranteed.
White wine substitutes:
You might think vermouth is just for cocktails, but it's also great for cooking. Like white wine it has high acidity and a complex flavour profile that adds depth and flavour to a dish. It also has a much longer shelf life than white wine so is a good option if you don't have plans to drink a bottle of wine with the meal.
For a non-alcoholic option you can switch the white wine for the same volume of chicken stock. But note that it won't add the same richness, acidity and depth of flavour to the dish.
Lemon juice and white wine vinegar mixed with chicken stock are other substitutes you can try.
While white wine pasta sauce is rich and tasty enough to be served alone, it's also very adaptable. Here are a few ideas:
- Add prawns/shrimp or chicken for extra protein
- Serve with store-bought ravioli filled with seafood or chicken
- Switch pasta for gnocchi
- Add spinach to the sauce
🧑🍳 Recipe steps
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Step 1: Fry the garlic and reduce the white wine
Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add butter. Add the garlic and fry for a minute or two until fragrant. Then pour in the wine and let it simmer for a few minutes until it has reduced by half.
Step 2: Add cream and season
Add the cream, balsamic vinegar, salt, and black pepper and simmer for a few minutes.
Step 3: Add Herbs and Parmesan
Lower the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, dill and parsley to the pan. Once the Parmesan has melted the sauce will probably be quite thick. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water until it reaches the desired consistency.
Step 4: Add the pasta
Toss in the cooked pasta and serve immediately, topped with extra parsley and black pepper as desired.
🍽️ Serving suggestions
A green salad, or some steamed green vegetables, will complement the richness of the sauce. A side of garlic bread will also go nicely.
White wine pasta can be served as a side with chicken, seafood or fish recipes like my Panko Baked Cod.
- Reserve some pasta water you'll need it to get the sauce to the right consistency if it's a little thick.
- Reduce the wine by half before adding the cream. This deepens the flavour of the wine and thickens the sauce.
- Reduce the heat when you add the parmesan so it doesn't separate and become grainy.
🙋 Recipe FAQs
The cooked sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheated on the stove or in the microwave. It is likely to thicken in the fridge and will need a little water or stock to bring it to the right consistency. This creamy sauce is not suitable for freezing.
Although white wine sauce can contain alcohol, the amount of alcohol in the finished dish is typically minimal. When the sauce is simmered at the start of the cooking process most of the alcohol will evaporate. However, if you are concerned about the alcohol content, you can use non-alcoholic wine or substitute it for stock.
This white wine sauce does not contain gluten. Just serve with gluten-free pasta for a gluten-free meal. It's advisable to check the packaging on the ingredients to confirm.
Add starchy reserved pasta water to the sauce until it reaches the right consistency. If you have forgotten to reserve pasta water you can use normal water or stock. If you use stock ensure it is not overly salty.
With its acidity and fruitiness, wine adds depth of flavour and complexity that cannot be achieved with other ingredients. It also tenderises meat and can be used to deglaze the pan.
😋 Check out my other quick and easy pasta recipes
Creamy White Wine Pasta Sauce
- 14 oz (400 g) dry pasta (Note 1)
- 2 tbsp (30 g) butter
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- ½ cup (120 ml) white wine (Note 2)
- ¾ cup (175 ml) heavy cream (double cream) (Note 3)
- 2 tbsp (10 g) Parmesan cheese finely grated
- 1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar optional
- 3 tbsp (5 g) fresh dill finely chopped
- 3 tbsp (3 g) parsley finely chopped
- salt to taste normally ¼ tsp
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package in generously salted water until al dente. Ensure you reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water before draining it. (Note 4)
- Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the butter.
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Pour in the white wine and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until it has reduced by half.
- Add the cream, balsamic vinegar, dill, parsley, salt, and black pepper to the saucepan and simmer for a few minutes.
- Reduce the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley and dill.
- Remove the pan from the heat once the Parmesan has melted. The sauce is likely to be quite thick at this point. Add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water until it reaches the right consistency.
- Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce until evenly coated.
- Serve immediately, topped with extra parsley and black pepper as desired.
- Pasta: I like to use long pasta like spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle. Feel free to choose based on personal preference.
- White wine: Choose a white wine that is dry, crisp, and has a good level of acidity like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Vermentino. Avoid sweet wines that will make the flavours in the dish unbalanced.
- Heavy cream (double cream): you can use other types of cream like single cream or crème Fraiche, but this will result in a thinner and less rich sauce. Note, that the recipe has only been tested with heavy/double cream.
- Reserved pasta water: Is used to bring the finished sauce to the right consistency if it's a little thick.