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What Wine Goes With Sushi? Pairing Guide

What Wine Goes With Sushi? Pairing Guide

Sushi is a popular delicious food that’s perfect for lunch or dinner. However, most sushi lovers don’t know you can pair sushi with wine. Yes, you can pair sushi with wine so let’s dive into the world of sushi or wine.

Should You Drink Red or White Wine With Sushi?

First, let’s address whether you can serve sushi with red or white wine. According to the wine pairing rules, fish should only be served with white wine. 

Fish has a light taste and texture. White wines have a subtle flavor which is why they are recommended for lighter foods. In contrast, red wines have a robust flavor that can easily overpower the sushi’s delicate flavor.

What to Consider When Paring Sushi and Wine?

Most sushi consists of rice mixed with vinegar encased in seaweed wrap and raw fish like salmon. However, sushi has become an umbrella term that represents rolls, sashimi, and maki.

Nevertheless, when pairing wine with sushi, remember sushi is fragile, and its flavor is subtle. Therefore, the ideal wines for sushi range from medium to high acidity and have low alcohol content.

This recommendation allows the sushi and salmon to balance out each other instead of item clashing or overpowering the other item.

Other factors, such as how the sushi is prepared, the type of fish, rice, or vegetables used, or the type of sauce, can also affect the wine pairing.

What White Wine Pairs With Sushi?

There are many different types of sushi. While there may not be as many types of sushi as there are wines, these pairings will ensure you have the best sushi and wine pairings.

Riesling

When it comes to sushi, Riesling wine is an excellent choice. The light viscosity of the wine pairs well with the lighter cuts of fish used to make sushi.

Riesling has delicate fruity flavors and a beautiful acidity that cleanses the palette. Dry Riesling works best with sushi made from white fish or yellowtail. 

In contrast, off-dry Riesling wines work better with spicy sushi. Off-dry Riesling has a sweeter flavor that helps soften the sushi’s flavor.

Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner is an Austrian wine. The grapes for this wine are hardly produced anywhere else, making this a unique pairing.

Grüner Veltliner is very acidic and has notes of green peas, lemon, lime, and white pepper.

It pairs perfectly with rolls, especially those made from eel, crab, and avocado. These rolls have a richer flavor from the sauce and the sushi rice, so the wine’s acidic nature.

Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is a robust, crisp white wine with fresh ginger and pickled ginger flavors that works well with sushi. However, the key to this Gewürztraminer pairing is avoiding high-acid ingredients like soy sauce or lemon.

Gewürztraminer is made from lower-acid grapes, so serving it with soy sauce or lemon could cause an unpleasant flavor contrast.

Gewürztraminer also has residual sugars that ease the spicy flavor of the wasabi. Therefore, Gewürztraminer is best for sushi made from sturdier seafood that’s served with wasabi, such as an unagi or freshwater eel roll.

Although freshwater eel has a fish flavor, its texture resembles chicken, so it does not have a light texture.

The bold flavor of Gewürztraminer is the perfect pairing for this kind of sushi.

Albariño

Albariño wine has notes of blossom, lemon, green peas, and lemon. Albariño wine is also very acidic and has a slightly astringent finish.

Albariño is best for tempura, especially shrimp tempura. The subtle sweetness of the prawns, the oil absorbed by the batter, and the acidic sauce pair perfectly with the citrus flavors of the Albariño.

These citrus notes help to cut through the oiliness of the tempura batter.

What Red Wine Pairs Best With Sushi?

Even though the wine pairing rules encourage avoiding serving red wine with sushi, some red wines still pair perfectly with sushi. So, if you’re a red wine lover, there’s no need to limit yourself to white wine.

The trick to red wine and sushi pairings is to choose lighter-bodied red wines with low tannin levels. High tannin levels can give the sushi a metallic flavor, and no one enjoys eating metallic sushi.

It’s best to pair sushi with red wines like Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, or Red Burgundy. 

Gamay

Gamay is a mildly flavored red wine with low tannic activity. Gamay wines can be fruity and simple, complex, or somewhere in the middle of simple and complex.

Gamay works well with sushi consisting of freshwater eel, toro, nitshake, aradaki, and black cod. 

Rioja

Rioja is a Spanish wine produced from Tempranillo grapes. Rioja wines are complex and elegant. Furthermore, most rioja wines are aged before they are released to the public, so it is a more expensive red wine.

Rioja wines pair well with salmon, unagi, toro, anago, and black cod marinated with Miso or sake.

Malbec

Malbec is an Argentinian semi-sweet wine with few tannins. Malbec has flavors of black cherry, plum, and cherry. Malbec pairs well with unagi, black cod, and dragon rolls.

Barbera

Barbera wines are similar to red Burgundy. Barbera wines are also relatively inexpensive, so if you want to experience sushi and wine on a budget, Barberad’Asti or Barberad’Albi is the perfect solution.

Barbera has herbal and floral notes that pair well with sushi, such as fatty tuna, hamachi, and salmon. 

What Sparkling Wine Pairs With Sushi?

You can also pair sparkling wine with sushi. Sparkling wines are not tannic, and the acidity and bubbly texture work really well with sushi.

Champagne

Champagne is the top-shelf wine when it comes to sparkling wine. It is mostly reserved for celebratory occasions.

However, you can turn any weekday into a celebratory occasion. Sashimi, raw sushi, masago, and okamese are the best pairings for Champagne.

Cava

Cava is often dubbed as the cheaper Spanish version of Champagne. Cava is not aged as long as Champagne, and it’s inexpensive.

Any sushi that can be paired with Champagne can be paired with Cava. However, sashimi and tempura work particularly well with Cava. 

Prosecco

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine made via the tank method.

Prosecco and scallops go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise the perfect pairing is a scallop roll. Scallops have a soft texture and a delicate, slightly sweet flavor.

The Prosecco adds an acidic, fruity flavor that elevates the scallop role. 

The light fruity flavor also works with spicy sushi rolls or those with lots of ingredients.

Final Thoughts

Sushi isn’t complete unless you have the right glass of wine to pair it way. You can experiment with red, white, and sparkling wines while trying some delicious sushi.