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Cooking risotto without wine?


Jan Primus
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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.

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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.

Stop Family Violence

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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$

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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.

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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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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.

Catherine

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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.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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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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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.

PS: I am a guy.

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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.

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.

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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 :)

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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.

Some flavor compounds are only soluble in alcohol.

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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.

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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).

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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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.

Steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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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: ...

steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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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.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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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.

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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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