Looking for the best wine to drink with sushi? We've got expert wine and sushi pairings to help elevate your dining experience.
We love a good sushi night at our house! Whether you're getting sushi take-out or making our easy California sushi bowls at home, you can easily elevate your dining in experience even further with the right wine and sushi pairings!
Sushi is a delicate and nuanced cuisine. Pairing the best wine with different types of sushi can take your dining experience to a whole new level.
In this blog post, we'll explore the perfect pairing for wine and sushi. Each type of wine has its own distinct qualities that make it a perfect match for the exquisite flavors and textures of sushi.
Wine pairing tips
Because sushi comes in a wide variety of flavors, there are many different types of wines that can pair beautifully with it.
In general here are some basic tips to keep in mind depending on the type of sushi you are serving.
- Pair more delicate sushi with lighter wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc.
- Pair sushi that has richer flavors or grilled flavors with full-bodied wines, like Chardonnay or a light-boded red wine, like Pinot Noir.
- When in doubt, sparkling wines pair with most sushi dishes.
White wine pairings with sushi
- Sauvignon Blanc - This crisp and refreshing white wine is an excellent choice for sushi, particularly for rolls that contain vegetables or fish with delicate flavors. Sauvignon Blanc's high acidity can help cut through the richness of sushi rolls, while its bright citrus notes can enhance the subtle flavors of the fish.
- Pinot Grigio - Another excellent white wine to pair with sushi is Pinot Grigio. Its light, crisp, and refreshing character complements the fresh, clean flavors of sushi. Pinot Grigio's citrus and mineral notes make it a particularly good match for sushi rolls that contain raw fish.
- Chardonnay - This is a classic white wine pairing for sushi. Its full-bodied, buttery texture can balance out the saltiness of soy sauce, while its ripe fruit flavors complement the sweetness of sushi rice. Chardonnay's oaky notes can also complement sushi rolls that contain grilled or cooked fish.
- Riesling - Off-dry Riesling's sweetness and acidity make it an excellent pairing with sushi. Its fruity notes can balance out the saltiness of soy sauce and enhance the sweetness of sushi rice. Riesling's acidity can also cut through the richness of creamy avocado and of fatty fish, making it an excellent choice for salmon rolls and spicy tuna rolls.
- Gewurztraminer - Gewurztraminer's floral and spicy notes can make for an exciting pairing with sushi. Its unique flavor profile can complement sushi rolls that contain spicy ingredients like wasabi or sriracha. Gewurztraminer's sweetness can also balance out the saltiness of soy sauce, making it a great match for sushi rolls with soy sauce-based dipping sauces.
Other white wines that pair well with sushi: Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, or a Vinho Verde white wine.
Red wine pairings with sushi
Contrary to popular belief, sushi is not just for white wine! Red wine lovers can rejoice in the fact that there are light-boded red wines that pair deliciously with different types of sushi.
- Pinot Noir - For sushi rolls that contain cooked or grilled fish, Pinot Noir can be an excellent pairing choice. Its earthy and fruity flavors can complement the savory flavors of cooked fish, while its acidity can balance out the saltiness of soy sauce.
- Gamay - Gamay's light and fruity character can make it a perfect pairing for sushi. Its bright fruit flavors can enhance the sweetness of sushi rice, while its light tannins can balance out the saltiness of soy sauce. Gamay is an excellent choice for sushi rolls that contain vegetables or light fish.
Rosé and sparkling wine pairings with sushi
- Sparkling Wine - Sparkling wine is a versatile pairing for sushi, and its effervescence can cleanse the palate between bites. Its acidity and bubbles can also help cut through the richness of fatty fish, like fatty tuna rolls or salmon rolls.
- Rosé - Rosé wines have fruity and floral notes, which can make for an excellent pairing with sushi rolls that contain raw fish. Its light body and acidity can cut through the richness of the fish, while its fruit flavors can complement the sweetness of sushi rice.
Of course, we couldn't write a wine and sushi pairing article without mentioning sake.
Sake is the traditional pairing for sushi because it originates from Japan and complements the flavors of the cuisine. It's an excellent choice for those who prefer not to drink wine.
The clean, crisp flavors of sake can complement the delicate flavors of sushi, while its acidity can balance out the saltiness of soy sauce. Sake can also enhance the umami flavors of sushi rolls that contain soy sauce or miso.
For a versatile choice, Junmai or Honjozo sake is recommended. However, for lighter fish, like sashimi, a Daiginjo sake with its refined and delicate flavors may be preferable. Richer sakes, such as Junmai Ginjo, can complement the stronger flavors in rolls with soy-based sauces.
Spicy sushi rolls can be complemented by wines with a hint of sweetness to counteract the heat. Riesling or Gewurztraminer, with their natural sweetness and acidity, can balance the spice in sushi such as a spicy tuna roll or rolls with spicy mayo. Alternatively, a sparkling wine's effervescence can help cleanse the palate between bites of spicy sushi.
Avoid heavily tannic reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon or red Burgundy wines, as they might clash with the delicate flavors of sushi meals.