What wine should I use in risotto? Ask Decanter

Most risotto recipes call for a glass of wine to be used when cooking, but what is best to pour in? And is red wine acceptable?

Four wine styles to consider for a risotto recipe:

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Unoaked Chardonnay
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Pinot Noir

First of all, avoid adding cheap cooking wines to your risotto, said Pete Dryer, food writer at Great British Chefs.

‘At best they won’t add anything to your finished dish, and at worst they’ll actively make it unpleasant.’

At the same time, don’t pour in your best wine. ‘It won’t be bad but really good wines are wasted on cooking in general!’

That said, in her book A wine lover’s kitchen, Fiona Beckett includes a recipe for Champagne and mushroom risotto, adding that using a blanc de noirs adds the right amount of toasty richness.

‘It might seem wantonly extravagant…. But you need only a glass and the bonus is that you can drink the rest with the risotto.’

In general, Dryer advises trying a crisp, dry, unoaked white wine. ‘Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are the two I would reach for first, and unoaked Chardonnay is fine.’

‘If you have a dry Vermouth knocking about in a cupboard somewhere, that will also work surprisingly well – you want something that will give you a nice balance of sweetness and acidity.’


See also: What styles are best in a white wine sauce? Ask Decanter 


Wines to avoid

‘I would avoid oaked Chardonnays, anything medium/sweet and anything with lots of body that may overpower the risotto – balance in key in this dish,’ said Dryer.

‘Sweeter wines can give you a sickly sweet flavour that clings to your palate too.’

Red wine in risotto

Don’t assume that red wine is out of the question; again in her book, Beckett has a recipe for a Pinot Noir and beetroot risotto.

‘You might not think of pouring red wine into a risotto but with beetroot it works beautifully.’

Dryer agrees. ‘It seems a bit weird, but it can work with flavours that traditionally accompany red wine – for example, mushroom risotto can work with red or white wine.’

If you do try a red wine in your risotto, stick to dryer styles over fruity and sweet ones.


See also: The ten rules of cooking with wine