How to match wine with truffle recipes

Looking for a wine to go with truffle risotto or another truffle-based dish this winter? We bring you the expert advice on what to look for and what to avoid, from master sommelier Piotr Pietras, head sommelier at London’s Launceston Place and recently named Amorim Taster of the Year at the Court of Master Sommelier Awards.

At a glance: Wine with truffle recipes

  • Try wines with some bottle age. Tertiary aromas such as earthy and mushroom notes will work well with the savoury character of truffles

  • Red meat: Try aged Barolo or Bordeaux | Fish: Think about aged red Burgundy or dry Riesling from Alsace or Rheingau/Pfalz

  • Truffle risotto needs bolder, creamier wines. Try lightly oaked Chardonnay from  Burgundy or California, or Marsanne

  • Avoid light, fruity whites and reds

What are the challenges of matching wine with truffle recipes?

giant truffle, sotheby's

A giant white truffle auctioned by Sotheby’s for $61,250 in 2014. Credit: Sotheby’s.

Piotr Pietras MS: Truffle flavors can dominate delicate, neutral white wines and, the other way round, they can be overpowered by very floral, perfumed whites or bolder, concentrated and youthful reds. So, I would stay away from excessive fruitiness.

One of the main things I would keep in mind is the development of wine.

I’d try to find the one with some [bottle] age, so it can express earthy, mushroomy aromas – to reflect the savoury character of truffles – while still being able to complement/stand up to the main element of the dish (fish, meat, vegetable or even chocolate).

What sort of wines would you recommend with specific truffle dishes?

PP: It all depends on the main element of the dish.

If it’s red meat, for instance, I would recommend 20+ year-old Barolo or Bordeaux because of the earthy, mushroomy character of the wines – that can stand up well to the intensity of truffles – as well as their tannins and acidity that would cut through the texture of the meat.

If it’s fish-based dish, I would either go for some softer, yet balanced and well-aged red from Cote d’Or or nicely-evolved, textured dry Riesling from Alsace or Rheingau/Pfalz. This variety is so versatile, especially after 10-15 years of ageing, when it starts to reveal its aromatics and complexity in a beautiful way.

Many people ask what to serve with truffle risotto. Here I would go for something slightly bolder and creamier and, at the same time, fragrant enough to balance this savoury dish. I had a great experience with mature Marsanne-based Hermitage Blanc, for example. Elegant, not-too-oaky, aged Chardonnay from Burgundy or California should do the job, too.

What wines definitely do not match well with truffles and can you explain why?

PP: When pairing with truffles, I would definitely exclude light, neutral white wines such as Italian Pinot Grigio and Cortese or Muscadet from Loire. That’s because these are too delicate and don’t have that aromatic, savoury element to stand up to truffles.

As for the reds, I would be careful with youthful, fruit-driven, powerful reds – for example – Barossa Shiraz, California Zinfandel or Mendoza Malbec. These wines will work very well with many other dishes, but truffle-based ones need something more subtle and more savoury.

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