Sushi and Wine – A Delicious Combo

Whether sashimi, nigiri, California roll or maki – the Japanese appetizers made from raw fish are also very popular in USA. In addition, sushi and wine make a wonderful pairing. And that’s exactly what we’re going to focus on now.

The training to become a sushi master takes between six and ten years. In the first year, the apprentice is only allowed to do one thing. wash rice. To perfection. Only then does the next lesson follow. Slowly, skill follows skill, artistry follows artistry. Because yes, in Japan sushi is not just a quick snack, but a culinary art. Sushi is prepared with the greatest care – and enjoyed with even greater care. And of course, this enjoyment also includes the ideal accompaniment in a glass. This can be a bit tricky at times, but we have good news for you. Because sushi and wine is actually a very rewarding combination if you pay attention to a few details.

The alcoholic drink of the hour with sushi is actually not wine. It’s sake. This is often referred to as rice wine, which is a bit misleading. On the one hand, because the production of sake is more similar to the brewing of beer. On the other hand, because the alcohol content is 15 to 20 percent by volume – and sake is accordingly more high-proof than wine. What both have in common, however, is their stylistic diversity. Anything is possible with sake, from fruity to tart to bitter. The Japanese like to enjoy milder versions of sushi so as not to mask the fine fish taste.

Sushi and wine being poured
Sushi and wine are a wonderful combination.

Sushi and wine: how about sherry?

Before we finally turn our attention to the topic of sushi and wine, there is still a small sidekick to make the transition from sake to wine. Because sherry is actually the ideal link to unite the Asian and European culinary worlds. Sherry is a fortified wine with 15.5% volume. The fact that sherry has a little more alcohol than most wines is not so decisive. It’s the taste. Because sherry usually matures under a so-called pile, a layer of yeast that protects the wine from oxidation. And which provides a wonderfully spicy-salty note.

This is exactly what goes very well with raw fish and seafood. In addition, salt softens the sour component in the rice. The clou: a Sherry Fino is stylistically not so dissimilar to a standard sake. So here we actually have a bridge that connects both worlds. If you want something milder in the glass, we recommend a Sherry Manzanilla, which is lighter and more subtle than the Fino counterpart.

Read Also: How to Pair Wine With Sushi

Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc – a good idea?

When it comes to sushi and wine, many people automatically go for Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc . Because of the crisp tartaric acid, which usually goes well with fish. But here we have raw fish. And with such aromatic grape varieties, it tends to go under. Especially with sashimi, i.e. wafer-thin raw fish slices, these two grapes can only be recommended with reservations. at a nigiri,where the main component is the soured rice, things are a little different. In fact, cooked rice absorbs flavors. Now comes the big but: the acid in the rice is still increased by the tartaric acid. This can quickly become uncomfortable. When it comes to sushi and wine, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc are perhaps not quite as ideal as is often assumed.

Unless you like it spicy. In other words, wasabi and pickled ginger end up on your plate more often when you eat sushi. A Riesling Kabinett with residual sugar can be a fantastic fit here. Finally, the sweetness softens the spiciness. The latter doesn’t burn quite as much either, because Kabinett, which is sweet with the residue, usually only has a moderate alcohol content. And alcohol increases the burning effect of a spicy food. As you can see, it’s not that easy to ideally combine sushi and wine . Especially since you not only have to consider the different types of sushi, but also all the types of fish. Away from sake and sherry, there are still a few universal tips. And we’re going to present them to you now.

Sushi and wine glasses to toast with
Some white wines go really well with sushi.

Sparkling wine as a sushi accompaniment

As a rule, only high-quality fish of the best quality are used for sushi. What could be more obvious than combining this with an equally high-quality sparkling wine ? Even! This is where champagne comes into play. Yes, here we usually have a pronounced tartaric acidity. However, the nutty brioche notes of the noble sparkling wine skilfully soften it. In addition, the carbon dioxide intensifies the fine notes of the different fish – and if a champagne with mineral notes ends up in your glass, it also goes perfectly with the soy sauce, which may also be on your table.

Of course, it doesn’t always have to be champagne. A crémant or a German winemaker’s sparkling wine are excellent alternatives . They can be a special treat, especially with sashimi made from salmon, haddock or tuna. Spicy sushi can also be combined with sparkling wine . For example with a fruity Prosecco . This one likes to have some residual sweetness and less volume percent than its foaming brothers from other countries. So that has the same effect as a cabinet. Just in sparkling. This is a very refreshing alternative, especially in summer !

Sushi and sparkling wine on a table at sunset
Sparkling wine is a wonderfully refreshing alternative to sushi, especially in summer.

Sushi and wine: the white pleasure side

If you don’t like it so much fortified or fizzy in the glass, you are well served with sushi and wine, especially with two grape varieties. Silvaner and Pinot Gris . Both grapes are far too rarely on the screen as food accompaniments. They are real jacks of all trades. Silvaner, which thrives on shell limestone, for example in the Franconian Main triangle, produces extremely elegant wines. Thanks to the mild tartaric acid, it is ideal for acidified sushi rice and at the same time does not mask the fine fish aromas. If you like it a little stronger, we recommend Pinot Gris. Gladly from the Palatinate or Baden. Here, too, the tartaric acid is moderate, but the wines are fruitier than their counterparts from Silvaner. Exactly that can be quite beneficial with a little more wasabi with sushi .

If you enjoy sushi bites with particularly tender white fish such as haddock, then a Chablis from Burgundy can be a good choice. The Chardonnay grape variety produces particularly steely and radiant wines here . And yes, they tend to have higher levels of tartaric acid. In this case it doesn’t matter. Precisely because white fish have an incredibly fine aroma , a sushi master acidifies the rice a little less. So that fits again. Incidentally, the tartaric acid in an Albariño is a bit softer. The Spanish grape variety also impresses with a nice saltiness on the finish. Ideal for soy sauce!

And what about red wine?

You’ve probably noticed that up until now we’ve only consistently given white tips on sushi and wine. The reason is very simple: most red wines mask the fine fish aroma with their tannins. Quite apart from the fact that you can quickly have a metallic taste in your mouth. Especially if you combine tuna with too many tannins. But what can go really well with tuna sushi is a slim Pinot Noir – also known as Pinot Noir in this country. This has only a few tannins. Well, the tartaric acid is a little higher. But this is usually balanced by a nice fruitiness.

A compromise between red and white wine would be a rosé , for example . Gladly from Provence . Because these plants usually bring a mineral touch that harmonizes perfectly with the salty soy sauce. As you can see , there are many ideas for sushi and wine . It doesn’t always have to be Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. But if you like exactly this combination best, then stick with it. When it comes to your own taste , you should neither compromise nor set up dogmas. Nevertheless, we certainly hope that we have been able to inspire you to embark on new pleasurable adventures.