Ask Decanter: Are glutinous rice dumplings suitable for wine pairings?

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Question:

It’s that time of the year when people from north and south China are fighting about whether glutinous rice dumplings, the pyramid-shaped traditional treats, should be sweet or savoury. The wine lovers, however, are busy discussing the best wine pairing options for them. But my question is, are glutinous rice dumplings actually suitable for wine pairings?

Image: Glutinous rice dumplings, from Wiki
Image: Glutinous rice dumplings, from Wiki

GUO Ying, senior sommelier of Four Seasons Hotel China and Decanter Asia Wine Awards judge, replies for Decanter:

This is a very interesting question.

There are many hearty Chinese dishes which are indeed suitable for wine pairings. Many dim sum dishes, such as Xiao Long Bao (steamed meat or prawn dumplings), can be matched nicely with wines, because the stuffing plays a more crucial role in the dish rather than the flour-made skins. Pizza is suitable for wine pairings as well due to the rich amount of cheese and meat/seafood toppings.

But glutinous rice dumplings, however, are a different story.

The key element of these dumplings is the sticky rice. The texture is sticky and chewy. The glutinous sensation, as well as the slight alkaline flavours from the rice, sticks on your tongue.

Unlike dim sum, the stuffing of these rice dumplings only plays a minor show to give some flavours (either savoury or sweet) to the rice - this means that it will be difficult to select a wine to pair with glutinous rice dumplings nicely.

Indeed, wines are supposed to be paired with food. But from the point of view of a sommelier, we would find it difficult to pair wines with many vegetable dishes and dishes composed of mainly rice or pastry.

Certainly, food and wine pairing is all about personal preferences. If you find any wine that can pair nicely with glutinous rice dumplings, do let me know!

Learn more about food and wine knowledge at Guo Ying's masterclass at TopWine China (Beijing) next week. Click to see more details and attend for free>>

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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