Wine & Food

Snooth User: NYCWineLover

Wine and Sushi

Posted by NYCWineLover, Aug 25, 2009.

Every time I eat sushi, it's always paired with sake. But I want to try something new, a fusion of cultures. What wines will go great with sushi or sashimi? One of my favorite dishes is Miso Black Cod, anyone have a particular suggestion?


Reply by ollie459, Aug 25, 2009.

Huët Vouvray Sec le Mont 2006 is a wonderful pairing with sushi. It's also a favorite white wine for its crispiness and honeysuckle aroma. You could not go wrong pairing this French wine with sushi.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 25, 2009.

Wow that's a great pairing. the Huets always rock and the Le Mont Sec is still open yet so precise I can see it being a fine match for richer fish.

How about a little Txacoli or Txacolina with the lighter items? Work for me!

Reply by Bruce G, Aug 29, 2009.

The pairing of wine with sushi really depends upon what kind(s) of sushi you're talking about.

The "neta" (toppings) can range from light and delicate (hirame) to strongly flavored and oily (aji, saba, etc) to rich and meaty (toro). Non-fish sushi, including things like horse meat sushi, are also possible.
The best wine for each of these categories would probably be different.

Since most sushi is served without much thought to wine you often get a range of flavors and tastes. In that case a wine (red or white) with good acid, lower in alcohol, without much oak influence would be best. Fruitiness would be welcome, but anything too assertive in the fruity/flowery category would probably not work with a number of sushi dishes.
Sweetness should also be kept to a minimum, though high acid whites with a little sweetness (ie., German kabinett) can do quite well.
Tannic wines are best left at home (unless you're doing an all Oo-toro meal), as are very powerful wines.

Re: sushi and sake.... by traditional Japanese standards a no-no.
In Japan the preferred drink with sushi is green tea.
Enjoy your sake with the sashimi, but once rice makes an entrance grain based beverages (sake and even beer) would be avoided.
Or so they say....

Reply by dmcker, Aug 29, 2009.

Bruce, am curious where you get your info on the sushi. A lot of it spot on, but some not.

In general Japanese consider 'shokuji', or rice-centered dishes, to be suited to the end of an evening's dining. No alcohol of any form with it, traditionally, because alcohol in the past was universally Sake, and it wasn't thought cool to have two forms of rice at the same time. The drinking occurs before the rice or noodles or what have you ever make an appearance. Tea may come before the meal, always after, often on its own, or with maybe some appetizer before and fruit after (Japanese cuisine traditionally doesn't do dessert).

Sushi is, however, a special case. Some people may drink tea with it, but here, too, it's traditionally meant for the end to settle the meal. The yell of 'agari' in a sushi shop is the sign that the meal is ending, tea should be served, and the bill totalled.

The largest portion of the eating population will have Sake or beer with the sushi, unless, of course, they are teetotallers. The vinegar mixed with the rice counterbalances the alcohol. In fact, the interaction of Sake with all kinds of fish and related dishes--whether sauce-heavy anago, or delicate amaebi, or luxuriant uni, or also-vinegared shimesaba, or snacky bits of simmered baby squid or gourmet cucumber and fruit tomatoes the sushi chef may pass across the counter from time to time, or whatever else from the sea or land--is counted as an important part of the meal by many, including 'connoisseurs' as well as 'laypersons'. Beer didn't really enter into the mix until the 20th century, but was found to react nearly as well as Sake with sushi, by many.

So enjoy your Sake with your sashimi or other appetizers, but also with your sushi. I personally think it's the best match for sushi, since I don't like how any wine I've had so far interacts with the vinegar and soy sauce in the sushi mix. Of all the possibilities I have tried, I do think that a good, dry sparkling wine can stand up best to the onslaught, but the meal takes on a different aspect...

Reply by Bruce G, Aug 30, 2009.


Interesting, but I'm quite confident with the statement that sushi would not traditionally be consumed with alcohol.
Of course there are few countries around that have changed as rapidly as Japan over the last generation or so. So the term "traditional" is a loaded one.

Even today, though, most Japanese in their 40s or above would consider it uncouth to mix sake and sushi.
Sake is for sashimi, broiled fish and other tidbits that fall under the general heading of sake no sakana. Once the nigiri start coming it's less common to find these folks re-ordering alcohol. Mostly they switch over to tea.


Reply by dmcker, Aug 30, 2009.

Well, Bruce, you need to rethink your info and its sources. I've lived in Japan for over 30 years. I could introduce you to people in their teens (illegally), 20s, 30s, etc. all the way to their 80s who drink Sake and other alcohol with their sushi in Tokyo or any other part of Japan. And many of them are famous epicures in magazines, on TV and the Internet. It was people now well beyond 40 who introduced me to the custom.


Reply by Bruce G, Aug 30, 2009.

No, as I said I'm sure on this.

There are certainly some Japanese folks who drink sake with sushi. I've seen it myself numerous times. But it's not traditional. Not by a long stretch.
And the pairing tends to be incidental, more about the mood of the moment and less about the food on the table. About the only ones who recommend it are sushi chefs looking to pad the bill.

Maybe you should re-check your sources?

Reply by nyampire, Sep 17, 2009.

Horse meat sushi!
I'm Japanese but I don't have heard that.
Basashi (horse meat sashimi) is popular. I must try it.

Umm.. Sake and sushi combination is a little bit heavy for me.
Because Sake is made from rice. Solid rice(suchi) and Liquid rice(Sake) is verbose.
(Ginjo grade Sake may be counterpart with Sushi, but Sake with sashimi is better, I think.)

Of cource, most Japanese enjoy drinking Sake with Sushi, now a day. Even 80s or older.
Traditionaly (means Edo era or older)... I don't know.
I think, Japanese folks is a glutton, we ate and drunk everything if they match. :)

Reply by Bruce G, Sep 22, 2009.


Thanks for the feedback.
Re: horse meat sushi... yes, I have had it many times, in both Kyushu and Yamanashi (both areas where basashi is also popular).

Re: "most Japanese enjoy drinking sake with sushi".... I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one, as it certainly doesn't correlate with my experiences to date.


Reply by sonkun, Sep 22, 2009.

nyampire: Here's some basashi for you (from my facebook). Looks a little like fatty tuna, but it much more chewy. It's usually served with green onions, fresh grated ginger, and garlic. Dip in a little soy sauce and enjoy!

Reply by StepanieBK, Sep 22, 2009.

wow that looks really good. where can i buy basashi? I live in New York City so I'm hoping this will be findable.

Reply by dmcker, Sep 22, 2009.

Seems we're getting even further astray on the sushi subject. If you like ba-sashi or the ba-nigiri rarity (even more common would be raw beef nigiri), than you might also like sakura-nabe winter stews, too--horse meat in the Japanese 'nabe' style. More a countryside option, all up and down Japan, with a few specialty restaurants in the large cities. Plenty of it in the norhtern Kanto fringes (Gumma and Tochigi), Shinshu, Gifu and Niigata,Tohoku and Hokkaido as well as Yamanashi which happens to be right next to Tokyo. Also Kyushu and Shikoku.

Personally, though I am certainly a carnivore, I don't want to support the horsemeat industry. Having grown up with horses in California, and knowing several people in the competitive equestrian events in Japan, I have no respect for how they are most often treated in commercial contexts in Japan. A lot of the ba-sashi is from maltreated rejects from the race-horse industry, while other sources are unfortunate farms where parasites and pharmaceutical feed additions are an issue. I also don't eat whale and porpoise meat offerings in Japan in Wakayama, Tokyo or elsewhere, though I've spent time in Wakayama with people in that corner of the fisheries industry.

Reply by neale1, Oct 12, 2009.


You have to have a (well not 'have to') a Earthy Russian River Pinot with Miso black cod - the yellow miso,mirin, soy sauce will go so well with the two guys below :

but u might also try a dry reisling
my personal fav

Cheers -

Reply by dmcker, Oct 13, 2009.

So neale1 you consider a beerenauslese 'dry'?

I just had some mackerel (saba) simmered in a miso broth at dinner tonight, with a lovely Sake from Akita. October/November is definitely the time of year when the saba are fattest and with the best omega-3 oils...

Reply by cookypuss1, Oct 13, 2009.

I like to have a Riesling or Pinot Gris with my sushi!

Reply by Robert Dallas Gray, Oct 13, 2009.

I read An Idiot in the Cellar by Jay McInerny a couple of years ago and he suggested a couple of pretty interesting pairings: one was champagne with sushi. Obviously far, far from traditional, but sounded pretty interesting (I haven't tried it). The other was old-skool Rioja with curry (apparently the woodiness works with the spice. Again, haven't tried it).

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