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Cameron Prather’s radicchio and red wine risotto. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

Of all the cooking rules that you may (or may not) follow, there is one that’s unequivocally not up for debate: Don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink.

It’s an excellent notion to follow. Those oddball bottles of cooking wine on your grocery store shelf? Not only are they a waste of money (because, truly, how often have you ever finished off one of them for a recipe?), but they’re packed with extra sodium and other preservatives. If you’re going to the trouble of purchasing good ingredients for your dish, wine should absolutely be held to the same standards. That doesn’t mean expensive; it just means it should be palatable and, why not? Pleasing.

And it can be a lovely part of the ritual of preparing a meal for and with loved ones. Who doesn’t love being in the kitchen, apron on, conversing while stirring, with a glass of wine nearby? Bonus: It usually promises something flavorful is about to be served, too.

Channing Daughters 2020 Rosso Fresco. (Photo courtesy of Channing Daughters)

Wine adds depth and complexity to a variety of dishes, from classic coq au vin to a simple risotto. Cooking with red wine is commonly associated with heavier dishes and stews made with beef or game, but for this veggie-centric risotto recipe from Cameron Prather, a medium-bodied red will do the trick and keep things at once on the lighter side but deep with flavor. Especially in this recipe, where the addition of slightly bitter radicchio is also a great contrast to the richness of the creamy rice, ultimately balanced by the tannins of a medium-bodied but full-flavored wine, like Channing Daughters 2020 Rosso Fresco, a blend of 56% merlot, 20% syrah, 15% cabernet sauvignon, 7% dornfelder, 1% blaufrankisch and 1% teroldego.

Once plated, shavings of parmesan and radicchio are excellent accompaniments, but creative garnishings, such as crumbled, crispy pancetta or toasted breadcrumbs, can add even more depth of flavor to the dish. Don’t be surprised if your guests question the slightly unappealing pinkish color the risotto takes on. Pour them another glass of the Rosso; they’ll thank you in the end. 

Radicchio and red wine risotto

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Serves 4 servings


  • 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 head radicchio, sliced in half, then cut in 2-inch-wide strips
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago


  • In a saucepan, heat the chicken stock till hot.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add about ⅔ cup of stock to the pan, just enough to cover the rice, and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add the radicchio to the pan and stir to incorporate. Continue adding the stock, 2/3 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is creamy but al dente, about 18 minutes. You may have stock left over.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and both cheeses. Stir vigorously until all is melted, blended and creamy.
  • Serve immediately with additional grated Parmigiano.