Last Updated: October 10, 2022
Sushi is an inquisitively popular dish nowadays. It is no secret how saké goes well with it, but what about wines?
Do you ever wonder...
What best red wine pairs with sushi or the best white wine for sushi?
There are specific elements to every wine, including sugar, acid, fruit, tannins, and alcohol. There are also distinctive food elements like fat, acid, salt, bitterness, sweetness, and texture. We need to consider how all these elements would work together for pairing success.
In this article, let's go over some of the basic rules in sushi and wine pairing.
In Japan, they regard sushi as a form of art, and you'll mostly see this as part of any celebration. So for an exceptional dish as this is, it is only noble to pair it with more than just tap water, of course! Here are some things we need to remember in understanding what wine goes with sushi.
What Is Sushi?
Sushi does not always mean raw fish. It just happens to be a common misconception since its main ingredient is sashimi, a famous Japanese raw fish. Sushi is more of a way to prepare rice.
Its origin roots in fish preservation because there were no effective means of cooling or freezing fish in the past. Further knowledge of fish fermentation and how it can prevent the fish from spoiling is what gave birth to what we all know now as sushi.
Sushi is a combination of ingredients, including a Japanese type of rice and a wide variety of different seafood like fresh fish, prawns, seaweed, etc., and vegetables. People enjoy this delicacy on special occasions, celebrations, and even on dinner nights with friends.
Basic Types Of Sushi
Sushi comes in different types, so it has a wide range of flavors, making it more appealing. Here are its basic types:
It is a fish or shellfish in thin slices and served chilled. Sashimi often comes with an Asian, white radish as garnishing and with no rice accompaniment. It’s suitable for people who love the taste of fish or shellfish with nothing else.
Nigiri is sushi rice with usually a fish topping. It is suitable for people who love fish or shellfish flavor with toppings and soy sauce dip. Its most common varieties are an octopus, squid, shrimp, tuna, eel, and a fried egg.
A maki comes in various layers of fish, vegetables, and sushi rice in a dried, seaweed sheet wrapping. Its common varieties are Futomaki, Hosomaki, Temaki, and Gunkanmaki.
It is a sushi rice dish with seafood, vegetables, and some mushrooms spread on top of it and the easiest one you can make. The chirashi is perfect for beginners learning how to make sushi since you can prepare most of its ingredients ahead of time.
Oshi is cooked rice pressed together with fish, coming in an aesthetic presentation of perfect rectangles and different topping layers. It is often a portion of a diversified sushi platter or bento lunches.
Helpful Tips In Pairing Sushi With The Right Wine
Sushi is a dish that offers a symphony of color and flavor variety that represents the festivity of this joyous season. But some find it hard to pair with wine because of its flavor diversity, which is why knowing your sushi is crucial.
A deeper understanding of every dish is crucial in ensuring that you pick the best white or red wine with sushi for a remarkable dining experience every time.
Take an assortment of sushi platter, for instance. Learning about the food-wine pairing will help you understand that you will need more than just one wine for an assorted sushi platter. You can do a wine pairing more effectively once you figured out all the different tastes and textures.
Let us identify some of the key elements that directly impact food and wine pairing:
The Wine Elements
Any food with a high acidic level makes an excellent pair for anything citrusy. The acid content in food can make your wine crisp and refreshing. Your drink should have equal or at least more acidity than your food.
You will need a wine with robust tannins to balance out dishes with high-fat content. Too much of it will give your wine a bitter taste, while too little of it will make your wine seem like fruit juice. The more texture that a dish has would mean that it needs more tannin from your wine.
If you're serving a spicy dish, white wine is indisputably the best to pair for it. Please note that we are not referring to a sugary kind of sweetness but more of a fruity one. The unfermented sugar in your wine can tone down the spice in your dish, creating more balance between the two.
One of the best things about sparkling wines is how it makes a fantastic match for all kinds of food. The carbonation in sparkling wines is famous for bringing a whole new flavor to spicy foods. The sparkling wines’ acidity can clear out the palate so that your last bite can be as tasty as the first.
An oak-aged wine can present different textures and flavors because as it ages, the tannins go softer, and the wine becomes more delicate. When pairing with aged wine, it’s best to choose less flavorful foods because it tends to overwhelm the dish’s flavors.
The Food Elements
When we say texture, it relates to body, weight, and structure. A similar or contrasting texture will hold the whole wine-food pairing selection together. This element in a dish can either accentuate or diminish a wine’s taste.
It’s the element that gives more excitement to the wine pairing. You can make a good pair by considering all of your dish’s ingredients and how it would highlight the wine’s flavor and aroma. Understanding the flavor component and comparing it with other flavors is the most effective approach in pairing success.
When matching wine with unctuous foods, keep in mind that the wine’s rich flavor should be able to balance the fat in your dish. Having a perfect balance will allow your palates to enjoy the wine’s flavor as it complements the dish’s flavors.
Top Picks For The Best Wines To Go With Sushi
Wine is a pleasurable beverage to match with sushis because of its wide variety of combinations that work well together. Here are some wine favorites that make a perfect pair with sushi:
Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc
These are all excellent wine choices and will not overwhelm, but instead support dishes like nigiri and those sushis made with tuna and salmon. They would also bring out akami's rich flavor and texture because the red wine's acidity makes a nice pair for steamed rice.
It is a light wine that does not lack too much sweetness and not overly dry, making it an excellent pair with sushi. Chardonnay matches tuna and yellowtail entirely because these dishes are less sweeter than most fishes commonly used in sushi.
An Albariño is full of lemon, lime, and blossom flavors. It’s a wine with high-acid content and a slightly bitter aftertaste that makes a perfect match for the shrimp's sweet taste and the sauce's acidity.
A Prosecco's bright, fruity essence, and with a tinge of sweetness can best complement a scallop roll. The scallop's delicately sweet nature will need a wine that is succulent enough and with high-acid content.
This wine's high acidity can cut through the fish's rich flavor, and it could also be an excellent match for wasabi. Riesling is also slightly sweet with low-alcohol content, making it a fabulous pair for nigiri sushi or sashimi.
Gewürztraminer and Grüner Veltliner
It is an aromatic white wine that can cut through the richness of a grilled eel. The Grüner Veltliner, on the other hand, has a light, zesty notes of lime and grapefruit, making it an ideal pair for unagi and dragon rolls.
This sparkling wine can cleanse the palate, and therefore, it allows you to focus more on sushi's flavors. It has the complexity of a Champagne but without its hefty price tag.
It is a wine that can work as a background note, enhancing the taste of sushi and giving it the chance to take center stage.
A Champagne is and always be a safe bet with sushi because it perfectly matches any sushi dish. It is also dry enough to let you explore the variety of sushi flavors.
It has the perfect amount of acidity that pairs so well with avocado and crabs in a California maki. It also helps you enjoy a bluefin otoro, yellowfin, spicy crab, and bigeye tuna.
Raw foods or those that go through a lighter cooking method goes well with a lighter-bodied wine as Muscadet. It has low-alcohol content, high acidity, and salinity-driven wine, making it ideal for sushi.
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Effectively Pair Sushi With Wine
Does Sauvignon Blanc go with sushi?
Yes, Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with sushi. This light-bodied wine has a high acidity that keeps it clean and crisp when you eat sushi. It makes a solid choice for deep-fried tempura.
Does Chardonnay go with sushi?
Yes, Chardonnay also pairs well with sushis having light, lean cuts like sashimi, maki, or nigiri. It’s light, which helps in creating the perfect balance when paired with tuna and yellowfin.
Does Champagne go well with sushi?
Yes. Nothing goes as well with deep-fried sushis as bubbly drinks because they can cleanse the palate of its intense flavors. It has the extreme versatility to provide the consistency of getting you through an entire wine-food pairing.
If you’ve read this far, you will now better comprehend how to take the food and wine pairing experience to a new level. You now know how the rice in sushi can absorb flavors and how your wine should intensify and not compete with a sushi's strong flavor.
While there are many other drinks you can pair sushi with, pairing it with wine can give you endless possibilities.
So with all the different factors that we broke down into the smallest details possible in this article, selecting the best wine to match your sushi will now be less of an effort and hopefully will save you a lot of time.
But keep in mind that this article is just a guide to give you an overview of the critical elements in both food and wine that will make the pairing successful.
You should know no limit in exploring different options to find the best beverage to create the perfect match for your dish.
Have fun experimenting, and may you have the best time enjoying all the tasty flavors that the fantastic world of wines can offer you!