Dumplings are my favourite food group. I adore these yummy little parcels that detonate with flavour, and come from all over the world.
Easy to fry, steam, boil, or sauté for any occasion: breakfast (obviously!); lunch, brunch, or dinner; or after a long night out (ahem, drinking) when you crave a midnight snack. These flavour bombs are utterly amazing with wine, and in our multicultural coastal city, we have no shortage of culinary inspiration and great wines to uplift the mighty dumpling.
Here are six kinds of dumplings paired with the perfect wines.
If you have not yet tried the Dumpling King’s potstickers, you’ve clearly been living under a rock. Crawl out and quickly order online. Start with the Johnnie Walker Pork Belly & Scallion flavour, and follow the simple instructions to cook them efficiently from a frozen state. You’ll have the moistest, juiciest, most succulent dumplings EVER. They are astonishing umami bombs with a crispy, caramelized undercarriage, and you can (should) go in the pink direction with Mirabel’s stylish, super-premium 2016 Rosé with its creamy weight, cleansing acidity and silky texture.
These versatile morsels will also light up a proper off-dry local Riesling from Synchromesh, where glorious fruity acidy will splice the porky fatness, and umami flavours will mingle in happy contrast.
Gyoza (Japanese pan-fried or steamed dumplings) are more petite and have thinner skin than their Chinese cousins, and a thirst-quenching Gamay , alive with cheerful red fruit and succulent acidity, will rock with a pork or vegetarian mushroom and chive dumpling.
Imagine shell pink, perfectly steamed har gow: crunchy, saline prawns wrapped in delicate rice paper. Each mouthful is light, savoury, and satisfying – you might even dip a corner in a little soy sauce. The right wine is a restrained sparkler, nice and dry with a mineral note, such as a Cava like Pares Balta Brut Organico, where creamy bubbles will complement the milky prawns, and frisky acidity keeps the pairing clean and light.
Wonton-style dumplings (the little purse-shaped beauties can be steamed, fried, or cooked in soup, and typically include pork, shrimp and ginger. If pan fried or prepared with a peanut sauce, you can choose a shapely B.C. Pinot Gris. Soup wontons with noodles (my current fave take-out soup can be found at the I Hua Bakery on 41st Avenue near Dunbar) need a super-savoury dry white like Gruner Veltliner, where almond and white pepper flavours will mesh breezily with fragrant broth, chewy noodles and meaty wontons.
Let’s not forget the Italian dumplings: tortellini are (so the story goes) formed in the shape of the goddess Venus’ belly button, and can be stuffed with anything from ricotta cheese, to herbs and spinach. A simple and classic preparation of tortellini alla panna (tossed in thick cream and salty aged parmigiano Reggiano cheese needs a sharp and minerally white like Pieropan’s streamlined Soave Classico with its twangy volcanic acid and nutty flavours.
And finally, perogies! Boil them gently first, then slather with onions sautéed in a little bacon fat for a deeply satisfying dumpling experience. Sour cream is optional, (and of course a fresh, crisp lager is allowed), but try a savoury Rhone white with some richness and body fat a whirl. Paul Jaboulet’s Parallele 45 has the flavour heft and creamy texture for your finest homemade or gourmet frozen perogies.