Usually, when talking sushi and drinking, we think green tea, saké, or one of the better Japanese beers like Asahi Super Dry or Asahi Kuronama. But wine can be a great choice with sushi, albeit a bit of a tricky one. Sushi is light and delicate, but wasabi, pickled ginger, chili oils, and soy-based sauces can completely overwhelm the palate if you’re not careful.
Honestly, wine is not the first thing we think of when we think of what to drink when we’re out for sushi, which conflicts with the fact that we think about wine all the time – even when discussing long term care insurance and gas prices.
To keep it safe, select crisp white wines to go along with your favorite rolls. Low voltage champagne and other dry sparkling wines such as drier styles of prosecco, cava, and Crémant d’Alsace will work, too, and perhaps add a sense of elegance to your sushi bar style. Whatever it is, work on your chopstick skills and look for the right mix of light sweetness and acid to complement the sushi.
Looking for specific recommendations?
The Roll: Salmon Roll
The Wine: Vin Gris
Why: It looks good. Pink on pink. Plus, the salmon makes the strawberry and citrus of the vin gris, traditionally a rosé made from Pinot Noir, pop in your mouth. The full sensory blend is wonderful.
Suggestion: 2015 Cuvaison Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros, California ($22)
The Roll: Spicy Tuna Roll
The Wine: Dry Riesling
Why: Fur a big fish like tuna, you need to go just a bit bigger in your white wine selections. A dry or off-dry riesling is big enough to handle it and brings minerality to balance the saltiness of the nori.
Suggestion: 2013 Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington ($20)
The Roll: California Roll
The Wine: Grüner Veltliner
Why: California rolls trend on the slightly sweeter side, pleasing the more novice sushi lover. To balance that perfectly, we give you the not-so-novice acid, citrus, and white pepper spice of the Grüner.
Suggestion: 2014 Brundlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Gruner Veltliner, Austria ($25)
The Roll: Tempura
The Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
Why: Tempura can come in a wide variety of forms, from vegetables and shrimp to fish, mushrooms and okra. For this variety, it’s best to stick with a classic Sauvignon Blanc that shows lots of fruit and minerality, like those from Chile or the Loire Valley in France.
Suggestion: 2014 Domaine Paul Buisse Touraine Sauvignon, Loire, France ($15)