Gyoza reach out for young white wines
Gyoza, this classic, highly popular Japanese dish is a delicious stuffed ravioli that is fried. The base of the gyoza stuffing is most often pork or shrimp. In the land of the Rising Sun, gyoza are traditionally made with tender, fatty pork for an easy, pleasant chewing experience.
With gyōza, a wine lover could think that a nice, moderately powerful red would be the wine to open. This would be a serious mistake however, given the many ingredients that go into the composition of the stuffing and enhance the taste. Gyōza have ginger paste, hot pepper oil or rayu, garlic chives known as nira, and cabbage. For me, the presence of ginger eliminates red wine from the start. Ginger is a fatal trap for red wines. The strong flavours of ginger disassociate the aromas in red wines and destabilize the wine.
Aromatic, heady whites
Instead, reach for white wines that are aromatic and winey. Here there is no need for prestigious vintages. Go for modest white wines whose price is on a par with this popular everyday kind of food. One example of a good white wine to go with your gyoza is the 2014 white Côtes-du-Rhône from Domaine de la Janasse. Christophe Sabon, the owner, makes this wine with a goodly proportion of Grenache blanc planted on sandy soils adjoining Chateauneuf du Pape. Notes of spice come from the 10% Viognier and 10% Roussanne. Just the right amount of Clairette and Bourboulenc add a delicate mineral touch.
On a par with Domaine de la Janasse, but slightly more generous on the palate, I recommend the 2015 white Cairanne from Domaine Marcel Richaud. Made with 35% Clairette, 31% Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Vermentino, Viognier, Grenache blanc and Marsanne, this vintage provides excellent fleshiness and the power to match the taste intensity of the delicious Japanese gyōzas.
Flowery, spicy Grüner Veltliner
As discussed above, the strong flavour of ginger and pepper oil require aromatic grapes. So why not turn to eastern Europe? The Austrian variety Grüner Veltliner (Green Veltliner) both spicy and mineral, is a fabulous accompaniment to gyōza. I suggest you try the 2014 federspiel Grüner Veltliner from the Weingut Emmerich Knoll. In Wachau, 80 kilometres west of Vienna, the mention federspiel applies to wines that are between 11.5° and 12.5° alcohol, and that have less than 4 grams residual sugars. These are wines that can be enjoyed young. A splendid floral and peppery expression enlivens this wine that has been partially raised in barrels and partially in tanks, then bottled at the end of the spring. Very balanced on the palate with gorgeous bitters on the finish, perfectly capable of taking on the ginger. Prosit!
La Revue du Vin de France, novembre 2016.