Can you use vermouth instead of white wine in risotto?

Answered by Vince Keith

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I'm always exploring different flavors and experimenting with ingredients in my cooking. When it comes to making risotto, using white is a popular choice as it adds depth and complexity to the dish. However, if you don't have on hand, can be a suitable substitute.

Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavored with various botanicals and can range from dry to sweet. Its herbal and sometimes floral notes can add an interesting twist to your risotto. However, it's important to note that not all vermouths are created equal, and some may not work as well as others in this particular dish.

When substituting vermouth for white wine in risotto, it's best to opt for a dry vermouth, as the sweetness of a sweet vermouth may overpower the flavors of the dish. Dry vermouths tend to have a more subtle and crisp profile, making them a better match for the delicate flavors of risotto.

I recommend tasting your vermouth before using it in the risotto to ensure it complements the other ingredients. If the vermouth is too floral or sweet, it might not be the best choice. However, if it has a balanced and slightly herbaceous taste, it can work wonderfully in the risotto.

When using vermouth in risotto, the process remains the same as when using white wine. Begin by sautéing the onions or shallots in butter or olive oil until they become translucent. Then, add the rice and toast it for a couple of minutes until it becomes slightly translucent around the edges.

Next, instead of pouring in white wine, you can pour in an equal amount of dry vermouth. Allow the vermouth to simmer and reduce slightly before proceeding with adding the broth to the risotto. The vermouth will infuse the rice with its flavors, adding complexity and a subtle hint of herbs.

Keep in mind that vermouth tends to have a higher content than wine, so the alcohol will not fully cook off during the cooking process. This can add a unique touch to your risotto, but if you prefer to cook off the alcohol completely, you can let the vermouth simmer for a few extra minutes before adding the broth.

In terms of the overall taste, using vermouth in risotto can result in a slightly different flavor profile compared to using white wine. It may have a hint of bitterness or herbal notes, which can complement certain ingredients like mushrooms or seafood. However, it's important to balance these flavors with the other components of the dish to ensure a harmonious taste.

To summarize, vermouth can be used as a substitute for white wine in risotto, but it's crucial to choose a dry vermouth with a balanced and herbaceous flavor profile. Tasting the vermouth beforehand is recommended to ensure it complements the other ingredients in the risotto. Experimenting with different vermouths can lead to unique and delicious flavor combinations in your risotto.