Finding The Right Match: Sushi and Wine

Twenty years ago, almost nobody ordered wine in a sushi bar, and many sushi restaurants didn’t even offer it. But times have changed. Today, even in Japan, ordering wine in a sushi bar won’t garner an evil eye from the chef. More and more people are choosing to pair sushi with wine.

First, there are many types of wine and many sushi toppings to try to match. Some wines will do well with some toppings, but not with others. Typically, red wine goes with meat dishes, and white with fish. But when it comes to sushi pairings, the discussion deepens.

Sauvignon blanc matches well with shiromi such as red snapper. The hint of the ocean that comes with red snapper goes well with the wine.

Champagne and other sparkling wines pair well with sushi, especially the sushi rice and the wasabi. The aroma of yeast noticeable in sparkling wines matches well with the yeast in lightly grilled eel, seaweed and uni.

Rosé pairs well with some shellfish, especially akagai. slight sweetness balances out nicely with shrimp and chu-toro.
If you’re set on pairing sushi with reds, try a dry red with o-toro. If you’re drinking a less robust red like a Malbec, it will pair better with sushi. However, there are some people who just don’t like the results of pairing wine with sushi. The point of is the aroma. Sushi has a very delicate aroma, and sometimes the mellow aroma of wine clashes with it.pairing wine with food. Finally, white wine and soy sauce don’t match well. If you’re pairing sushi with wine, go easy on the soy sauce. If you use a lot of soy sauce when eating sushi, maybe white wine is not the best drink.

Koshu (Japan)

Wine from the Koshu region of Japan may be the best match for sushi. Wines from this region have less acidity than most European wines, so they don’t quarrel with raw fish, soy sauce or sushi rice. Koshu wines also have low levels of iron, which makes them good matches for countering that fishy smell. The delicate Koshu wines may be the best match for sushi. While wine and sushi may make a difficult marriage, it’s certainly one that is worth working on. As Japanese cuisine and winemaking evolve, a happy pairing may be in sight yet.

Castilla Léon (Spain)

60% Airén, 30% Macabeo, 10% Moscatel This Spanish wine was created with sushi pairings in mind. It has a light lemon color to it. It has hints of apple and peach. It’s refreshing and has a nice finish. The wine was made with not only the toppings in mind, but also the rice, the wasabi and the soy sauce. The winemaker put a Japanese woman in charge of the production.

Author profile

Yasushi Kurita was born in Tokyo. He has spent the last 30 years as a writer for print publications and TV. When he was in college, he spent two years in New York. His favorite band is the Atlanta Rhythm Section, making him one of about 15 Japanese people who actually like that band.