Author Seema Pal 10-12-2022
Risotto is a delicious side dish or first course in a meal in Italy. It is an exquisite cross between comfort food and fine dining. The classic recipe includes arborio rice, broth, butter, parmesan cheese, garlic, herbs and white wine. With meticulous preparation that it requires, it would be a shame to not pair it with a great red or white wine to elevate your dining experience to the next level! The great thing about risotto is that it pairs beautifully with white wines, but also has strong enough flavors to work well with red wines as well.
Wine Characteristics To Pair With Risotto
|Notes||Red fruit, citrus, stone fruit, herbs, dairy|
Best Red Wine To Drink With Risotto
Risotto is a delicately flavored dish. When selecting red wines, be sure to choose one that is not too bold to overpower the delicacy of the dish. In terms of structure, good choices to pair with risotto would be wines with a medium plus to high acid levels, low to medium tannins, and low to medium alcohol levels. The red wines can either be fruit-forward New World style, or more mineral and savoury Old World style, as long as they are not too strong to overpower the risotto. Here are some of our favorites to try out below.
A red wine from Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir grapes. This is a classic pairing with risotto, and for good reason. The notes in red Burgundy tend to be more earthy with a red fruit profile. This complements the earthiness of the risotto which comes from the cheese, stock and perhaps mushrooms if they are used. The high acidity helps to balance out the creaminess of the rice and cheese in this dish, and the low to medium tannins do not overpower it. The medium level of alcohol of reds from this region do not overpower the delicacy of this dish.
This is a region that is further south of Burgundy. The red wines from here are made from Gamay grapes, which are medium-plus to high acidity, medium alcohol and also low to medium tannins which are not too strong for this dish. The fruit forward notes of the wine balances out the dish perfectly.
Pinot Noir from Oregon
Oregon is getting more recognition year after year as being a high-quality producing region of Pinot Noir wines. Compared to Burgundy, it will produce wines that are slightly higher in tannin and alcohol, but not as much to overpower the dish. This is a good choice because the earthiness inherent to Pinot Noir will complement the earthy flavors of the risotto. Pinot Noir’s red fruit notes will not be too strong for risotto and will match the intensity of the dish. This wine is always dry and usually high in acid, thus will be refreshing when contrasting with risotto’s creaminess.
Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley
This is an underrated red wine that is great with pairing with food. Like Pinot Noir, it has a red fruit profile, high acid, low to medium tannins, and medium alcohol. The structure of this wine is important since risotto is an elegant dish and we do not want to overpower it. Loire is the perfect region for this wine and food pairing because of its cool climate and will ensure the wines will have this particular structure.
These wines are made primarily with Corvina grapes, which have a red fruit profile. Red fruited wines tend not to overpower risotto like black fruited wines do. Along with the medium tannin and alcohol level and higher acid components, this is a great wine pairing with risotto. Look for a higher quality Valpolicella that will have a savoury herbal component and will complement any herbs used in the risotto dish.
Best White Wine To Drink With Risotto
There are many white wines that can make delicious pairings with risotto. The best choices are the ones that are full bodied to match the creaminess of the dish. In addition, choose ones that have some similar characteristics that have undergone malolactic conversion, which converts malic acid to lactic acid. This results in hints of creaminess and cheesiness. This may sound bizarre, however the notes are subtle and also promote complexity and help in allowing these wines to age – and not to mention tasty. If you aren’t sure how to find those wines, don’t worry. Many of these wines listed below are very popular for good reason as they are great food wines that will elevate your dining experience, yet are also delicious on their own.
This is a renowned region in the Mâcon region of Burgundy. The wines are prized as this region is known for the ripeness of its Chardonnay grapes. This results in the wine having a high intensity of flavor that will easily be a good match for the risotto. In addition, this wine will have ample palate-cleansing acidity and the dairy notes of malolactic conversion which parallel the dish.
Although this is the same grape as a Pouilly Fuissé, the climate and terroir of Sonoma is vastly different from the Mâcon. Sonoma has a warmer climate, however the wines still have higher acidity due to the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The balance of acidity and ripeness of fruit characteristics in the wine allow it to be a perfect pairing with risotto. The intense stone fruit and tropical fruit will pair well with risotto. The dairy and oak notes also give the wine complexity that matches the complexity of the many layers of the dish, thus creating balance.
Alsatian Pinot Gris
Alsace is an underrated region that produces full-bodied white wines that are rich in mouthfeel and also intense in flavors. This wine tends to be unoaked to allow the natural fruit notes to be showcased. This wine is known for its notes of honey, clove, Meyer lemon with a long finish and high acidity. This would pair nicely with risotto with the lemon notes mirroring the lemon in the dish, and along with the aromatic intensities matching. There are some sweet versions, so look for a dry one to enjoy with your risotto dish.
Garnacha Blanca from Priorat
This is also another full-bodied white wine. Priorat is known to be a quality driven Spanish region with old vines that provide concentrated fruit that produces concentrated wine. Although risotto is a delicate dish, it has strong flavors that demand a wine with the same body and complexity. This is why this wine is a great choice. It is a mostly fruity wine with green fruit and stone fruit, but also has notes of herbs and spices from this region, which will showcase the herb in risotto.
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
This is a wine from the coastal side of the Loire Valley. This cool region produces wines that are fresh and fruity, slightly saline with hints of dairy from malolactic conversion. What is unique about this region is that there is extensive lees contact, which will give it delicious notes of bread and wheat. It also makes for a highly complex and surprisingly budget friendly wine. The lees give the wines some earthiness that is also present in the dish. You will find the wine’s freshness and high acidity to be palate cleansing for this mouth coating risotto dish, and the notes of dairy will parallel its flavors.
Best Wine To Drink With Risotto
There are so many interesting wine pairings to enjoy with risotto. Since risotto is loved for its creaminess, it is best to pair it with a food friendly wine that matches it with intensity so as to not overpower it. Here are some of our favorite options to drink with risotto.
- Burgundian Red
- Oregon Pinot Noir
- Pouilly Fuissé
- Alsatian Pinot Gris
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