"Rice is born in water and dies in wine". This old Italian saying is a testament to the tradition of using wine in risotto dishes, a perfect ingredient to reach the perfect creaminess which is integral to a good risotto. The addition of wine in such dishes is also a great way to infuse subtle flavors and aromas. There is only one rule when it comes to which wine to use – it must be a quality wine. It’s a common misconception that a poor-quality wine is good to use in a risotto since it, after all, “evaporates” during cooking. But this is not the case. Here are a few recommendations on which wine to use for a perfect risotto.
Risotto alla Milanese
This is the “prince” of risotto dishes. Made with saffron and beef marrow, this dish has a strong base of flavor and structure which require an equally paired wine. When using a white wine in a dish like this, it’s best to use one with a substantial alcohol content and structure such as a Riesling Renano, Farnito Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. The freshness and softness of these wines help enhance the fat content of the dish, while balancing the structure. When using a red wine, the same rules apply. It’s best to use reds that are not too tannic and tend towards the soft side so as not to overload the dish and the palate. Best choices are Barbera d'Asti, a Chianti Classico or a Nero di Troia, all wines with pleasant aromas and great body, balanced by a velvety and caressing tannin.
Risotto allo Spumante | Spumante Risotto
It goes without saying that a risotto like this absolutely needs to be prepared with wine – and a spumante at that. A bubbly wine adds just the right amount of sapidity and effervescence to the dish, all the while giving the dish a full blast of flavor. Experiment with white wines that offer the perfect balance of sweetness with the onion in the dish and aromaticity with the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from the dish - both ingredients used to create creaminess. A great wine pairing for this is a Sauvignon Blanc, that offers a more marked flavor or a Chardonnay, which offers a more fragrant and full-bodied flavor.
Risotto ai Frutti di Mare | Seafood Risotto
This is the perfect seafood dish which combines the rich flavors of shrimp, calamari, mussels and clams and a bit of tomato, onion and shallot. When done properly, a seafood risotto is really able to awaken the palate with sensations of a sunny day spent walking along the sea shore. With this said, wine pairings need to be of the same freshness so it’s best to go with a Vermentino from Tuscany or Liguria, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or a Fiano di Avellino. These are all wines with pleasant aromas, good acidity and are all versatile enough to balance the acidity of the tomato, and the sweet tendency of the shrimp as well as the rich flavors of the mollusks. Alternatively, we recommend a very pleasant Dogajolo Bianco, with its fruity aromas and pleasant intensity perfect for a memorable meal.