Wine With Sushi
Wine and sushi go together like champagne and caviar; they’re the perfect pairing as wine, when paired properly, will highlight the delicate and clean seafood flavors of sushi recipes, sashimi and nigiri.
The below list highlights what to drink with the different types of sushi, as well as, what not to drink with sushi making it a bit easier to pick a varietal with success.
Before we get to the specifics, here are a few guidelines to remember when pairing wine with sushi:
Best Wine For Sushi
In general, high-acid wines with a slight bit of fizz pairs extremely well with fish. Think Riesling, Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner Veltliner.
Soft and light reds can work well with specific fish as well.
Varietals To Avoid
On the flip side, high-alcohol wines with high levels of tannin, oak and fruit won’t leave you wanting another glass. Think Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, and Merlot.
Wine to Pair With Sushi
When making this list, we considered the most popular sushi recipes and flavor profiles, including a few of our favorites:
Sushi Wine Pairing
Tuna can be a relatively lean fish, so it’s important to focus on light bodies wines with subtle flavors. If you’re enjoying a fatty cut, such as Otoro (blue tuna) you can certainly pick a fuller bodied white or light red.
Recommendations: Grüner Veltliner, Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, or Pinot Noir (for fatty tuna)
Salmon is a rich and oily fish so you can pair it with a stronger flavored white wine, such as unoaked Chardonnay, where as other leaner fish cuts can’t stand up to the stronger bodied wine.
Recommendations: Champagne, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir
Crab (Kani / Kanikama)
Sushi featuring crab, such as the popular California Roll, tend to be light and bright. Between the light crab and creamy avocado, it begs to be paired with a light and bright white with some acidity!
Recommendations: Champagne, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Rosé.
Yellowtail is a rich, oily and fatty fish with a slightly sweet flavor profile and delicate texture. The possibilities are endless with this popular fish varietal.
Recommendations: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Albariño.
Recipes: Hamchi Crudo, Yellowtail Roll, and Spicy Yellowtail Roll.
Unagi (Freshwater eel) is sweet with a strong flavor, allowing medium strength wine varietals to work. Eel is also always cooked, so depending on the cooking method, the flavor can vary from dish to dish.
Recipes: Unagi Roll and Unagi Don.
Recommendations: Albariño, Gewurztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gamay.
Veggie rolls like an Avocado Roll or Cucumber Roll, pair well with lighter low-alcohol wines, as they tend to be more delicate that fish-based sushi.
Recipes: Avocado Roll, Cucumber Roll, Gobi Roll and Sweet Potato Roll.
Recommendations: Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine That Goes With Sushi Tips
- Sushi sauce recipe (such as eel sauce), wasabi and pickled ginger can change the flavor of the wine when it hits the palate. Try Pinot Gris if you’re not into enjoying the sushi as served (which is actually served with perfect balance as is).
- Curate a variety of wines if you’re serving a variety of fish, which is quite common. Create your own “sushi and wine pairing night”.
- Avoid extremely sweet wines as it won’t pair well with most fish and the rice (Sushi Rice Instant Pot).
- Read up on the difference between Sushi vs. Sashimi.