Perfect wines to go with a classic autumnal dish
John Wilson: Mushroom risotto is a very wine-friendly dish, bringing out the best in most wines
This week’s topic got me thinking. I asked a dozen or more wine importers for their ideal wine match for mushroom risotto. A sizable percentage suggested a white wine (one suggested an orange wine which, actually, was a very good idea).
I have always seen red wine as the only thing to drink with my mushroom risotto. Earlier in the year, I drink medium-bodied white wines with primavera or seafood risotto, but to me there is something very autumnal about mushroom risotto (even when made with cultivated mushrooms), and I have always turned to red. Am I out of step with the rest of the wine community?
I know vegetarians are sick of being offered mushroom risotto as the sole meat-free alternative in every restaurant they enter, but I love it, although I believe that a good chicken stock is one of the key ingredients, so my version is not vegetarian. The other essential is good quality rice. I am currently hooked on Riserva San Massimo Carnaroli, which I buy from 64wine in Glasthule, Co Dublin.
Mushroom risotto is one of my cold weather comfort foods and I have been eating steaming bowlfuls of this umami delight on a very regular basis.
Red or white, does it matter? Fortunately risotto is one of the most wine-friendly dishes of all and mushrooms bring out the best in most wines. So put the two together and whatever wine you try, it is likely to taste even better with your risotto.
Italians would generally have their risotto as a separate course, but I think many of us would eat it alongside some form of protein. If you are serving it with a red meat, then red wine seems essential. I would normally head straight for a Pinot Noir or, as this is a Piemontese dish, a Dolcetto, a Barbera or possibly even a Nebbiolo. My autumnal favourite is duck (wild or farmed), so this would certainly suggest Pinot Noir, although the Nebbiolo featured here was the best match of all in my tastings.
If you prefer white wine, most sources suggest a rich Pinot Gris or an oaky Chardonnay. This makes sense, yet my preferred matches were lighter white wines, including the Pieropan Calvarino (one of my all-time favourite wines, €31.99, independents) which worked very well, as did the well-priced elegant Terredora Fiano di Avellino (€18.95, O’Briens). Both the Anjou and grand cru Riesling featured here are great wines in their own right, and improved still further alongside the rice.
If you have an image of me stuffing my face with lovely mushroom risotto, pausing only to slurp one nice wine after another, you would not be far off the mark. All in the course of duty.
Rousselet Pinot Noir, Vin de France
Apparently boosted with a little Merlot, this is a medium-bodied Pinot Noir with sweet rounded red cherry fruits. Perfect on its own, with mushroom risotto or chicken dishes.
Stockist: Aldi, aldi.ie
Langhe Nebbiolo Giacomo Fenocchio 2018
Perfumed and powerful, this fills the mouth with supple sweet red cherry fruits and liquorice. The well-integrated tannins come through on the finish. This would also go nicely with a rare steak.
Clos des Treilles 2015, Anjou Blanc, Biodynamic
Delightful subtle ripe pear and quince fruits with touches of honey, a lively crisp acidity and a dry slightly tannic finish. Lovely wine. Even if you don’t like mushroom risotto, this is worth seeking out.
Riesling Grand Cru Saering 2017, Domaines Schlumberger, Alsace
Amazing power and volume with rich complex exotic fruits and honey shot through with a laser-like acidity. Try it with risotto or coq au Riesling.
Stockists: Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com