Pair It Up! Dumplings

This week's wine pairing was inspired by the upcoming Toronto Dumpling + Sake Fest where chefs from around the city are squaring off to fold and fill their best dumplings. The folks at That's Life! are cracking open bottles from their extensive sake portfolio for guests to sip on, which will no doubt be delicious. This spurred my imagination for a more vinous pairing.

The best wines for the job will depend greatly on what the little dumplings are stuffed with. When we consider the classics, we're thinking about uncomplicated flavours like pork, chives, shrimp and dough and whatever salty sauce you dip them in (likely soy). If you're feeling ambitious at home, Chatelaine recently posted an article explaining how to fold dumplings. For filler, they use both a five-spice pork recipe and a vegetarian Tibetan momo recipe that uses mushrooms, spinach and tofu as a base.

This pairing has a lot of moving parts and is a little trickier than it seems, but two grapes that will make a suitable substitution for sake are Riesling and Pinot Noir. Both of these grapes play nicely with soy sauce. Riesling, especially an off-dry example from the Mosel with racy acidity and minerality, will work great with flavours of pork, shrimp and many herbs you throw its way. A lusher, spicy, new world Pinot Noir will match the tune of both 5-spice pork and mushrooms in the Chatelaine recipes.

For wines available on My Wine Canada, look to the Okanagan for the bright and off-dry 2013 Riesling from JoieFarm or, from a single plot in Twenty Mile Bench, Flat Rock Cellar's fresh and minerally 2013 Nadja's Vineyard Riesling.

For a couple different Pinot Noirs that bring the spice notes, try the Meyer Family Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir from the Okanagan or the Niagara Peninsula-sourced 2013 Voyageur Pinot from Keint-he Winery and Vineyards.


Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.

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