Risotto, the great Italian rice dish, has now made its way to kitchens around the globe, emerging as one of the truly great vehicles for delivering incredible fresh and seasonal flavours to your dining table. From tried and true classics like wild mushrooms or seafood and saffron, through to ingenious “nouvelle cuisine” or fusion inspired ingredients and flavours, the key to a knock-your-socks off risotto starts with mastery of the basics.
This mastery comes down to three simple tips – (i) add only a few ladle’s of stock at a time – never more than just enough to cover your rice – slowly simmering your rice and gently extracting starch rather than “boiling” the poor little grains; (ii) don’t overcook it – like pasta, you’re aiming for an “al dente” texture; and (iii) add fats like cheese, butter or cream at the very end once the rice has finished cooking, otherwise it will most likely separate, going from rich and creamy to gross and greasy in no time flat.
1. Asparagus & Hot Smoked Salmon Risotto RECIPE
Wine Match: Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre or California or Spanish Verdejo
2. Next-Level Saffron & Seafood Risotto RECIPE
Wine Match: Vinho Verde from Portugal or Txakoli from Spain’s Basque Country
3. Pear & Gorgonzola Risotto RECIPE
Wine Match: Ripasso style reds from Italy like Valpolicella or southern Rhone Grenache
4. Bacon, Apple & Thyme Risotto RECIPE
Wine Match: Rich whites like barrel-aged Chardonnay, Semillon or Godello
Matching wine with risotto, as you’ll see from our pairing ideas above, should focus on the ingredients and flavouring agents included – not the rice itself. With this in mind, you can match risotto with everything from lightly and delicate unoaked whites with fish or seafood based preparations, right through to the fullest and most robust reds if you’re serving up a bowl of risotto featuring lamb chops, blue cheese or other earthy vegetables. Often times I think of risotto as an excellent dish to “fancy up” some otherwise simple flavours that serve as the perfect partner for a wine I’ve been hankering to crack over dinner.