Dolmathes are one of those things, like sushi, which look more difficult than they truly are. Take a platter of these to a party to look like a hero, and if you are using your own grapes, cut a length of vine to use as decoration for the tray.
I love making Dolmathes for the meditative qualities of the process. A mildly fussy series of simple tasks, that when complete lead to a sense of esthetic pleasure…at least for me.
There are commercially available preserved grape leaves and those are perfectly fine…but I am fortunate to have a grape vine in the garden and enjoy choosing the leaves right before making the wraps.
If made without meat, these are vegetarian and if served without the Avgolemono sauce, they are also vegan. For vegetarians make the sauce with either water or a vegetable stock.
My family recipe uses currants and raisins, which I have exchanged for cranberries…because Canada.
If made with meat, dolmathes are most commonly made with lamb…or possibly goat.