Get yourself a warm creamy bowl of risotto and a glass of wine and you’ve found a perfect Italian version of comfort food. This northern Italian rice dish can be made with an infinite choice of ingredients from mushrooms to squash, to seafood, to cheese, to sausage, to the simple Milanese risotto made with saffron. Together risotto and wine make a perfect match. Both protagonists of Italian cooking, the soft flavors of an elegant risotto and the aromatic notes of wine seem to be made for each other.
Therefore it comes as little surprise that many risotto dishes are made with wine, this in part due to the fact that the grains of rice so easily absorb the delicate flavors of the wine itself. In fact, the wine used to prepare a risotto can be an important factor in deciding which type of wine to pair with it. For example, risotto made with a Barolo would pair well with a Barolo when serving it.
However, hands down, the best way to choose a wine to drink with risotto is to consider the main ingredient used in it. Following this logic, when having a seafood risotto go for a dry white wine such as a Vermentino like Colli di Luni. When serving a meat based risotto choose a younger medium-structured red such as a Chianti, Nebbiolo or a Barbera. If the risotto is prepared with a cured meat aim for a wine like a Bardolino which is fruity and dry. For risotto dishes made with herbs or vegetables, pair them with an aromatic white wine – try a Sauvignon, Muller Thurgau or a Verdicchio.
White wines also work well with vegetable soups like minestre with rice. The only difference is that this time it should be a less aromatic white. An Italian wine which goes nicely with soup is Malvasia dei Colli Piacentini. When tucking into the wonderful earthy goodness of a mushroom risotto consider pairing it with a prosecco such as Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore.
Another of Italy’s best loved risottos is risotto ai quattro formaggi, four-cheese risotto, and in this case you can pick a sparkling white Franciacorta or a red aromatic and earthy Rossese di Dolceacqua.
Possibly the most common risotto found from the north to the south of the country is the risotto Milanese a creamy yellow risotto made with saffron. This king of risottos goes best with a younger red like a Bonarda or with a more structured white or rosé such as a Pinot Grigio or a Soave.
Of course when talking about rice and Italy it’s difficult not to think of the famous Sicilian Arancini or Roman Suppli’, both stuffed rice balls filled with different kinds of fillings, like ragù or cheese, which are then tossed in breadcrumbs and deep fried. These mouthwatering bites pair amazingly with wines which are crisp and dry, for example a Vernaccia di Serrapetrona or an Oltrepò Pavese Cruasè.
Overall, when looking for which wine to pair with your risotto rely on the flavors and aromas of the main ingredient used to prepare the risotto. This should help you find the best wine to compliment your dish. Then just pour yourself a glass, take your bowl of risotto and relax while enjoying some real Italian comfort food.