A “parade of holubtsi” was held in Odessa region, accompanied by volleys of local wines


The south of Ukraine, Odessa, despite the war, is turning into a Klondike for the modern gourmet. Here you can find both expressive wines and the unique Odessa cuisine, which has absorbed the brightest flavors of the traditional tables of various peoples who have lived on these lands since time immemorial. The fame of the Odessa cuisine is spreading around the world: it is natural that Ukrainian Bessarabia’s Wine and Taste Route was the best in the Region of the year category of the international Wine Travel Awards 2022-2023.

And, perhaps, there is no Odessa dish which is more interesting, ancient and cosmopolitan than holubtsi, or dolma, as they are called in some countries. There are several versions that explain the origin of holubtsi – Turkish, Chinese, German, French and Greek. In an Aristophanes` comedy one of the heroes asks to serve him cabbage leaves with pork – and that gourmet, let me remind you, made his order as far back as in 425 BC.

In 2023 holubtsi recipes were included in the National list of the non-material cultural heritage elements of Ukraine. This June the Club of wine fans “Vintage” and the project “Gastro Bessarabia”, the founders of which are Yulia Sushchenko and Olga Klymenko, jointly decided to pay tribute to this dish and organize a holubtsi festival. And in order to demonstrate all the variety of the dish, they arranged a bright “parade of holubtsi “.

It turns out that there are so many recipes for holubtsi that even the most dedicated researchers of the  world gastronomy have not heard of some of them. So, at first the guests tasted holubtsi with fish, where the dish is wrapped in a grape leaf; then – holubtsi with beef, where the minced meat is “dressed” in beet leaves, stewed with beets and in beet kvass. Next, the housewives surprised us with incredible holubtsi with cheese in a linden leaf, and for dessert they served “sweet holubtsi ” – ice cream in a “ship” made of zucchini and baked zucchini flowers. And all this is accompanied by various sauces, which emphasized the taste qualities of each dish.

Ukrainian Bessarabia’s Wine and Taste Route

And what drinks should be served with holubtsi? Of course, you can have the brutal Ukrainian vodka with pepper, called hrenovuha. But the guests were offered a carefully selected set of local wines. Depending on the filling of a particular dish, four wines were offered: “Riesling” from the winemaker Maryan Shevchenko, “Cabernet” “in white” and dessert Muscat from the Manzul Winehouse, orange from winemaker-sommelier Oleksandr Novoselchan. The organizers announced that the “holubtsi parade ” will have a second season, so we advise you to follow the news.

Ukraine, which is under fire from Russia today, continues to develop. And that is true for the field of wine tourism as well. The wines of this country are gaining recognition on the international stage. Enthusiasts of local gastronomy study ancient recipes and enrich them with the latest technologies. We are sure that the world’s wine lovers and gastronomy experts have already entered Ukraine in their tour calendar to visit it after the Victory. And the Drinks+ team is ready to be a guide for each of them, to take them through the gastronomic roads of this hospitable and diverse country.

We are currently preparing The Wine Travel Awards Guide 2023-2024, where we will present all the nominees of our unique award – people, wines and rare gastronomic gems like Ukrainian Bessarabia’s Wine and Taste Route.