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Cooking risotto without wine?

Italian

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39 replies to this topic

#1 Jan Primus

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:22 AM

I've just made my first few batches of risotto recently using some white wine which the recipe's had called for. I've seen recipes substituing wine with vermouth (I beleive it was vermouth) and I've seen a recipe without wine or any alcohol. My reason to not bother with wine is mainly $$. I am not a fan of white wine at all, so I have to buy a bottle every time I make risotto, of which only a small portion of the bottle is used for cooking, then I have to drink the wine relatively shortly after it's been opened even though I don't really enjoy it, just not wanting to waste it.

So I'm curious if some experienced risotto fans can comment how important white wine is to risotto, if it can be substituted (vermouth?) or dropped all-together.

The reason I ask here as opposed to experimenting for myself, is that I when I cook risotto it will be for few people at a time and I would not want them to be dissapointed.

Thanks in advance.

#2 Dana

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:34 AM

I really don't know about the vermouth, but I try to keep those little 4 pack mini bottles of wine in my pantry. They are perfect for risottos and whatever else you might need a cup of wine for - deglazing a pan, etc, and you just have to open what you need.
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#3 Jan Primus

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:38 AM

I'm not familiar with those 4 packs, what size are the bottles?

#4 ChefJB

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:45 AM

You dont have to use wine, I some times use lemon juice or nothing at all and just start adding the stock. When I make risotto out of the rice that my truffles have been stored in I just use water. I find that the flavor comes out better. my .02$

#5 joesan

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:52 AM

Hi Jan,

I would say that a good way to do this is to buy a bottle of inexpensive wine and to freeze it into small blocks in your ice-cube tray. That way you can keep the wine in portion sizes almost indefinitely until you are ready to use them a portion at a time.

You can also use vermouth but this can be a little too floral or sweet in some cases. I would however definitely use some kind of alcohol, so use the vermouth (which has the advantage of keeping almost indefinitely) if you have no wine. The wine or vermouth will add another layer of complexity to the flavour that really does add to the quality of the risotto. I wouldn't leave it out if you can avoid it.

#6 tino27

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:53 AM

I may be exposing myself as a heretic here, but one time I thought I had some white wine for my risotto, but upon opening the bottle, it was skunked. A quick look through my fridge and a lovely bottle of Belgian ale took its place in my risotto. It came out surprisingly good -- and I ended up serving the beer to my dinner guests as a beverage instead of the wine. I think as long as you use something complimentary to the risotto flavor you are creating, you could probably use just about anything.
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#7 cfm

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 08:17 AM

Yes, I used tequila once, and that was fine... Going back to the question, I don't know if I keep the wrong kind of vermouth in the house, but I would use nothing rather than putting it in my cooking - anytime I have substituted it for wine (typically a Nigella Lawson suggestion) I have found the flavour obtrusive and unpleasant.

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#8 ruthcooks

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 12:26 PM

Julia Child was a big proponent of using dry vermouth instead of white wine. I've done it forever and am pleased with the results. In my experience, if you get the wrong bottle of wine--white OR red--you can end up with some pretty funky flavors.

The vermouth keeps, in or out of the refrigerator, for quite some time.
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#9 scubadoo97

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 12:49 PM

What is the purpose for the alcohol in risotto besides flavor? Interesting that this post was started the day after I made risotto for the first time. I used Valencia rice a short grain rice that looked just like arborio but was 1/4 the price. I did use a white wine and vegetable stock and it came out better than any risotto I've had in restaurants.

#10 Bonnie Ruth

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 01:37 PM

I also use the small 4-pack bottles for cooking wine. But Fine Cooking had a tip in the latest issue about using boxed wine for cooking. Apparently it keeps better because it doesn't get exposed to air.

#11 Shalmanese

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 02:34 PM

Call me a heathen but I've found wine in cooking doesn't significantly degrade if kept in the fridge. I usually have a bottle of cooking red and cooking white in the fridge at all times and sometimes they'll be there for 3 months and they still taste fine in a dish.
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#12 Jan Primus

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 03:41 PM

Call me a heathen but I've found wine in cooking doesn't significantly degrade if kept in the fridge. I usually have a bottle of cooking red and cooking white in the fridge at all times and sometimes they'll be there for 3 months and they still taste fine in a dish.

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Well that would be great news I thought that the wine would have to be used within a few days after opening, even in the fridge. Thanks for all the advices.

#13 Chef Bradley

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 06:41 PM

I rarely use alcohol in any of my cooking (life style preference) and I've found that when you dont/ cant use wine for acid, you find great alternatives. Cider, orange, lime or myer lemon juices work great or, if you are looking for the FLAVOR of the wine without alcohol, I love to use Verjus. It gives you the acid and the grapey flavor without the booze :)

#14 tino27

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 06:51 PM

What is the purpose for the alcohol in risotto besides flavor?  Interesting that this post was started the day after I made risotto for the first time.  I used Valencia rice a short grain rice that looked just like arborio but was 1/4 the price.  I did use a white wine and vegetable stock  and it came out better than any risotto I've had in restaurants.

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Some flavor compounds are only soluble in alcohol.
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#15 Jan Primus

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 09:05 PM

So what types of white wines are best suited for risotto? I think most recipes simply suggest a dry white wine, I've only used chardonnay but I don't know the differences of white wines. I've been using $20 bottles but I think I'll cut it back to $10 bottles since I'm indifferent about drinking whites.

#16 chromedome

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 09:23 PM

Personally I like to taste the rice, so I use a very light broth and usually skip the wine altogether. The exception would be when I make a risotto with seafood or saffron, in which case I'll use whatever white I happen to have on hand (but if I don't have one, I'll skip the wine without a second thought).
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#17 Chimico

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:48 AM

It is not necessary to use wine with Risotto.

/chem

#18 stovetop

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:10 AM

Yes! …. You need a good stock, No Wine :blink: ….sorry I have not read up thread but basing my comments on one line “you do not need wine to make risotto”.
What ever you’re medium is use the stock made from that meat, if it is veggie use, a good veg stock and finish with like a light miso broth or some good mixed mushrooms and yes of course butter and cheese-hell it would not be risotto without all that fat.
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#19 Franci

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:38 AM

It is  not necessary to use wine with Risotto.

/chem

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Let's make two Italians thinking that wine is not always necessary, with saffron in particular I avoid it.

#20 stovetop

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:58 AM

Let's make two Italians thinking that wine is not always necessary, with saffron in particular I avoid it.


Franci ...I agree; Wine, does not make the rice...Yum.. saffron :raz: ...
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#21 Brad Ballinger

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 07:55 AM

Piling on. . .

Wine is not necessary. If you want to do something wine-like, however, ubstituting vermouth is a matter of taste and preference. Better options are verjus or freezing the wine in the ice cube tray, and then keeping those wine cubes sealed airtight in the freezer. I do the same thing with leftover lemon juice, lime juice, etc.

And, to Jan Primus, you can find decent wine for cooking for even less than $10.
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#22 Chimico

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 08:10 AM

wine is not always necessary, with saffron in particular I avoid it.


Absolutely.

And if you want wine in your risotto, by all means, prepare a delicious "Risotto al Barolo" :biggrin: :biggrin:

ciao /Chem

#23 vanveen

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 11:49 AM

Better options are...freezing the wine in the ice cube tray, and then keeping those wine cubes sealed airtight in the freezer.  I do the same thing with leftover lemon juice, lime juice, etc.

I'd be hesitant to freeze wine because of possible chemical degradations and repercussions (especially since the alcohol content will not react the same way as the water content and water/alcohol-soluble contents).

Then again, while red wine shouldn't even be refrigerated due to the way some molecules irreparably change in the process, white wine can, and therefor may not suffer the same in the freezer.

Dry vermouth (refrigerate) is an easy substitution and a good way to use it up within the first few months of opening, but if you're drinking wine with dinner, just use that wine.

I would also re-recommend the boxed wine tip: decent boxed wine can be found these days and will keep, unrefrigerated, on the shelf, for weeks and weeks.

#24 Jan Primus

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:39 PM

I would also re-recommend the boxed wine tip: decent boxed wine can be found these days and will keep, unrefrigerated, on the shelf, for weeks and weeks.

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[/quote]

Not after the box has been opened though, right?

#25 vanveen

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:04 PM

Not after the box has been opened though, right?

Luckily, wrong :)

The wine inside is stored in an airtight bladder that lets wine out but doesn't let air in, so because there's almost no oxidation. The wine inside, unexposed to air, will be as good as the day the box was opened even weeks later.

#26 Jan Primus

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:28 PM

Not after the box has been opened though, right?

Luckily, wrong :)

The wine inside is stored in an airtight bladder that lets wine out but doesn't let air in, so because there's almost no oxidation. The wine inside, unexposed to air, will be as good as the day the box was opened even weeks later.

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Do these only come in larger sizes though?

#27 vanveen

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:38 PM

Do these only come in larger sizes though?

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They only come in larger sizes, sure, but they're much cheaper anyhow, that you could afford to use only half of one and still save. You should be able to get through the whole thing before it goes bad, though.

#28 Torrilin

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 07:20 PM

Boxed wine usually keeps quite well for months, even in rather brutal conditions. My parents kept some on hand as cooking wine on the countertop. Even in the heat of summer (no A/C unless the thermometer broke 85F), it would stay pleasant and drinkable for around 3 months. A box of wine usually doesn't last much longer than that with 5 adults around to use it for daily cooking.

I've made plenty of risotto with boxed wine, or with no wine, or with no stock. IME, the key thing is to plan your flavors based on what you have on hand. A fairly sweet boxed rose is not going to go well in a risotto loaded with broccoli, and a spinachy risotto won't like an oaky red. An austere parmesan risotto works well even when all you've got is water for the liquid. A lemon heavy risotto might not work *except* with the rose wine. It all depends on what you're throwing at it.

If you've got a rice loving household, it's not a bad idea to spend several months working through a risotto as often as you can stand. Try different vegetables, different wines, different stocks, no stock, cheeses that you think might work, "quick" techniques... The effort I've put in on making risotto a part of my default dishes that I can turn out well without a recipe was worth it. I've now got a nice reliable technique that I can use to dress up almost any vegetable. I haven't been as exhaustive with protein varients, since I'm usually pretty budget constrained.

#29 dario

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 02:55 PM

I would like to add a couple of things to this discussion:

1) if you use wine (in any dish), use only a wine that you would drink - if it's disagreeable to drink the taste of the wine will effect the taste of the dish
2) boxed wine also comes in 2 litres (at least in Oz)
3) most dry white wines, Riesling, Chardonnay, Semillon, etc are suitable for cooking (don't know about reds, don't drink, only use it occasionally for some stew/ragus).

ciao

Dario

#30 annanstee

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 03:00 PM

I use vermouth in place of white wine all the time, perhaps because I am greedy and want to save the wine for drinking :biggrin:
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