A nice creamy risotto could call for two different styles of
wine depending on how you decide to prepare it.
We’ve decided to prepare it two ways, allowing us to suggest two
different wines that we’d serve with the dish if it were on our
tables at home.
The richness of Ann Vogel’s Fresh Mushroom
Risotto calls for a wine with equal richness. That’s
why we’re recommending a Sémillon.
But before we get into why we would choose Sémillon, a little
history. At one point it is believed that Sémillon was the
most-planted grape in the world. That’s not the case anymore, and
in fact some of France’s top Chateaus in Bordeaux recently joined
together to create an association focused on growing quality clones
because a decline in the grape’s popularity was resulting in fewer
nurseries growing quality wine.
In Bordeaux it’s common to see Sémillon blended with Sauvignon
Blanc and Muscadelle, in fact these are the three main grapes that
make up traditional white Bordeaux blends.
The grape is also used to make some of the world’s best dessert
wine, which is produced by leaving the grapes on the vine until
noble rot takes over. The noble rot causes the grapes to shrivel,
which dries up the moisture in the fruit and intensifies the acid
and sugar levels.
In France, when Sémillon is the dominant grape being blended, it
creates wine masterpieces like Château d’Yquem Sauternes.
We Washingtonians are lucky because we have wineries here that
produce some stellar Sémillons, including one of Walla Walla’s
oldest wineries L’Ecole No.
L’Ecole actually produces two Sémillon wines, one from a series
of well-known vineyards in the Columbia Valley appellation and its
Both are blended with Sauvignon Blanc, but the Sémillon is 83
percent Sémillon, 17 percent Sauv Blanc, while the Luminesce is 67
percent Sémillon and 33 percent Sauv Blanc.
When the Sémillon grape dominates, the wine has a rounder
mouthfeel with more floral, fruity notes.
If you decide to add some extras to the mushroom risotto — like
asparagus and lemon — Sémillon is definitely the best match.
L’Ecole’s Sémillon retails for around $14 and can be found at the
grocery store and most wine shops.
If you prefer to make Vogel’s recipe with her suggested prawns
and chili pepper additions, we have a different white wine for
Because of the sweetness of the shrimp, and the spiciness of the
chili peppers, we suggest another wine that does exceptionally well
in Washington: Riesling.
In fact, the wine does so well that last year the leading
variety of wine planted in the state was Riesling, which accounted
for 33,500 tons of grapes picked.
While some are hesitant to try Riesling because of a fear of
sweet wines, we’re here to assure you, there’s nothing to be afraid
of. We even recommend grabbing a sweeter Riesling over its dry
The sweetness of the wine balances the spiciness of the chilies
— this is why Riesling is often recommended to accompany spicy Thai
And as we said before, the sweet notes in the wine will
highlight the faint sweetness of the prawns.
Consider a Chateau Ste.
Michelle Riesling, also sourced from multiple
vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA, which retails for around
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