Risotto al Barolo

Two Versions of this Piemontese Classic


Nothing thrilled me more as an aspiring young chef and lover of Barolo and Barbaresco than to learn that a dish such as Risotto al Barolo existed.  The idea of it was almost unimaginable; pouring half a bottle of Barolo into a pan.  I had to wonder, could it really be that good?  Could it really be worth it?  Well you know what? It is.
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Risotto al Barolo con Uve Arrostita
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A very traditional Risotto al Barolo. It’s rich and satisfying with the flavors of Nebbiolo bursting from the seams.
Where the traditional Risotto al Barolo seduces you with subtly, this dish is all about exciting flavors that come together in perfect unity to please the senses.
Risotto al Barolo comes from the one place on earth where it would be normal to have enough Nebbiolo-based wine hanging around to think of pouring it into a pan: Piedmont, Italy.  It’s a dish that was created by a people who worked hard to produce their wines and feed their families.  The classic recipe is not a risotto for the uninitiated.  It's a rich dish that tastes of the wine you pour into it, which is important to remember when selecting the Barolo for this risotto.  In this case, I chose a young Barbaresco from Produttori del Barbaresco.

With the understanding that many people may want to thrill their guests with something a little more colorful and with a wider diversity of flavors, I've also included a second recipe that was designed with fine dining in mind.  My guests had trouble deciding which of these recipes they liked more because, although they are very similar in practice, the two yield complexly different results.  I urge you to try them both.

As for the wine, my favorite pairing with Risotto al Barolo is easily Barbera. 

2007 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne
- The color was a deep reddish purple. On the nose I found red fruit with floral notes, cedar and a slight funk of undergrowth. A lively expression appeared on the tongue, as its brisk acidity made the mouth water yet bombarded it with sour cherry fruit. There was juicy cranberry on the finish, which stayed fresh for what seemed like a minute. This was textbook Barbera that cut through the rich structure of both risottos and kept the palate lively and fresh. 

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  • Snooth User: beachpoet
    511756 17

    I had Risotto al Barolo con Uve Arrostita a year ago, while visiting New York, at Barolo in Soho. It was memorable. I have been fantasizing about it ever since and have been unable to find a recipe for it, until now! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Oct 01, 2010 at 12:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Jenniedbf
    233640 4

    I enjoyed Risotto al Barolo at the Marchesi di Barolo winery in Barolo, Italy. We had a wonderful tour of the facility and then lunched upstairs in the beautiful Paiagal Room with the Marchesa present. It was my first taste of the risotto al Barolo and that, along with the setting, was unforgettable.

    Oct 01, 2010 at 2:18 PM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 196,525

    I've toyed with Risotto al Barolo for a long time and I finally feel that I found a version of the recipe that not only tastes great but looks fantastic on the plate.

    I also thought to mention that the bottle of wine that I used was the Produttori del Barbaresco, barbaresco from 2006. A great bottle of young nebbiolo that costs about $25 -$30. I've used Langhe nebbiolos for this in the past but I feel that you pay the price in the color of the end product.

    Oct 01, 2010 at 9:41 PM

  • Snooth User: duccio
    597510 1

    Greta dish and in this case it will be called locally Risotto al Barbaresco and paired with a .... Barbaresco !

    Oct 02, 2010 at 12:32 AM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 196,525

    Absolutely, I've paired this dish with Barolo and Barbaresco in the past but I find that by doing that I create a tug of war between the diner and what's in front of them. The guest has problems deciding what to do, eat the risotto or spend five minutes with their nose in the glass. I'm not saying it's wrong in any way: I highly suggest trying it but in my experience I find it makes sense to save the Barolo or Barbaresco for after the official diner so that the guest truly get to indulge in it.

    Oct 02, 2010 at 8:20 AM

  • Snooth User: sourgrape
    596094 5

    Love risotto' simplicity and versatility, have tried it in so many delicious ways but never prepared with Barolo, the dark color that the wine adds to it does not appeal to me as much since I prefer lighter and creamer versions, still the one with uve arrostita seems more delicate and refined, I am dying to try it and can almost taste it. I agree with you Eric Guido regarding the tug of war, when a dish is well prepared with amazing ingredients it is better to keep it simple and not over doing it with the pairings, the dish on its own should fill your mouth with so many notes that over doing it would detract from its enjoyment and true appreciation, I wouldn't mind having it served with a meat but my first choice would be by itself.
    If not paired with Barolo which wines would you suggest.

    Oct 02, 2010 at 10:18 AM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 196,525

    You need to go with a wine that has vibrant acidity, my first choice here was a barbera for just that reason. Staying in the region, a Freisa would work well but some versions can be a little too bitter. Most reds from the north of Italy carry the backbone and acidity to stand up to this. Look for something off the beaten path. Try a Teroldego or a Fumin from Valle D'aosta.

    Oct 03, 2010 at 10:14 PM

  • New wine

    Oct 04, 2010 at 10:51 AM

  • Absolutely. I went on a trip in the area a few years ago and, out of all of the mostly lovely food, a Barolo risotto we had as a starter one evening sticks in my mind (rather than on the pan perhaps, ho ho). Simple, winey and delicious.

    Oct 07, 2010 at 11:31 AM

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