Risotto al Funghi. Wow.
Just reading those words make my mouth water… that soft chewy rice texture, mixed with the subtle taste of mushroom and cheese can make even the pickiest eater’s taste buds rejoice in happiness. Although the dish is solid on its own, there’s a secret something that can make the meal an over the moon experience: pairing it with the right wine.
In 2001, I found out the power wine pairing had when it was done correctly.
I was having a delicious meal at Guy Savoy in Paris with a dear friend of mine, and to end our dinner, we decided to order a bottle of the famous Château d’Yquem. We kindly asked the maître to bring us a dessert that would perfectly accompany the bottle of wine we had ordered; he kindly agreed, and told us he would be sending us a selection of the best treats available, as long as they paired well.
Dessert #1 – Passion Fruit Mousse.
Dessert #2 –Passion Fruit Mousse.
At this point I could tell he was up to something…
Desert #3 –Passion Fruit Mousse.
I glanced up at him in disbelief. He glanced back at us and responded, “Passion Fruit Mousse is the only dessert that must be paired with this wine”. I wasn’t sure if he was right or wrong, but that idea of having the appropriate wine for the appropriate food has stuck with me ever since.
Okay, back to the Risotto al Funghi.
To give you all the best recommendations, I delved deep into some Italian wine books, and got into contact with some of my dear friends who are deeply involved in the culinary world.
Before we start, you need to keep in mind that the centerpiece in terms of flavor of this Risotto, is the mushroom. Is it raw, cooked, earthy, sweet, truffle? It’s important to understand this, because the wine choice should never overpower the flavor of the main ingredient. In general terms for this dish, I’d recommend staying away from red wines with potent aromas, or white wines that are more on the sweet side. I know that seems fairly broad, so I put together a list you can follow based on the feedback and conclusions I made on my own:
• Top tier wines suggested by chefs: Barolo, or Chardonnay from Piedmont in northern Italy. Barbaresco could also pair well. • French Wine: Chardonnay from Bourgogne, such as Puligny Montrachet, Meursault or Chablis. If you want red wine, a Côtes du Rhône or a Pomerol suave from Bordeaux.
• Italian wines: Lange from Piedmont, or any Chardonnay from Umbria or Sicily. If you want a cheaper alternative you can try a Pinot Grigio or a soft Sangiovese such as Rosso di Montalcino o Chianti.
• Others: A good Tignanello, or solid Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. A white Arneis could also work well.
• If you’re in the mood for red: Pinot Noir, such as a Ribera del Duero
• Something different: Franciacorta or an Andalusian Jerez.
Like I mentioned earlier, the single most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the wine doesn’t overpower the flavor of your food, but rather, complements it. I invite you all to mix, match and taste, and let me know what your favorite wine pairing was!
Like Julia Child once said: “Wine is meant to be with food- that is the point of it!