These Pairings are a Great Catch!
Okay, we need a show of hands here – who out there has a mild obsession with sushi and seafood? Wow … that’s quite a few of you! Welcome to the club, you’re in good company. Now, the next thing we need to know is, how many of you sushi and seafood lovers want to learn how to pair the perfect glass of wine with your next tuna roll? … All of you? Awesome, that means you’re in the right place!
With a few tips and some general wine pairing know-how, finding the right glass of wine to complement your favorite sushi roll is easy-peasy. We won’t keep you waiting – let’s get into the info you need to know when pairing wine with sushi and seafood!
Pairing Wine With Seafood
The featured protein in your seafood dish will, more often than not, determine which wine you should reach for. In general, it’s best to pair lighter proteins with more crisp, acidic wines, while more savory, fatty seafood marries well with fuller-bodied vinos. To show you exactly what we mean, we’ve outlined a few pairing examples below:
Tilapia and Other White Fish
We love a fresh selection of white fish! Tilapia, Mahi Mahi, cod, and red snapper are all examples of fish that fall into this category. Because of its light flavor, you don’t want to overpower this fish with an especially bold wine. Instead, these dishes are best served with bright, acidic wines like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Rather than drowning out the delicate flavors of these dishes, the refreshing taste and acidity of the wine will complement and accentuate the pleasant, mild taste of the fish.
Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Hearty, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or swordfish taste absolutely incredible when paired with a variety of light red wines or a full-bodied white like Chardonnay! Light Beaujolais, Burgundy, or a light Pinot Noir are all excellent options to pair with a more robust fish. The acidity in these wines will cut through the fat in the fish while also offering a pleasant balance to the texture and rich flavors.
Crab, Lobster, and Scallops
The rich, almost buttery flavors of crab, lobster, and scallops call for a wine that has an equally unctuous texture. Full-bodied white wines are the ideal choice for a perfectly seared scallop or a decadent she-crab soup, offering a delicious balance of velvety mouthfeel and nutty flavors. A few examples that you’ll want to try include full-bodied, oak-aged Chardonnay, a white Burgundy, or Chablis, which is typically made with Chardonnay grapes.
Wine Pairing by Cooking Method
Depending on the way seafood is prepared, it can take on completely new characteristics that add depth and complexity to its flavor. The same piece of fish will taste very different when it is fried versus if it is served grilled or raw. Let’s take a look at these different preparation methods and talk about which wines work best with them!
Grilling a piece of fish or shellfish imparts a deep, savory, and sometimes smoky set of flavors that are unmistakably delicious. For grilled seafood, try out a dry Rosé to balance out that smokiness and create a tasty balance of aromas and flavors.
Raw Seafood & Shellfish
With raw fish, you’d be hard-pressed to find a one-size-fits-all answer for which wine works best. Instead, there are a couple of general rules that you should keep in mind! Whitefish, mussels, and oysters all work well with bright, acidic whites like Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, or dry, sparkling Champagne. On the other hand, fatty fish like salmon and tuna work best with full-bodied whites like Chardonnay or light reds like Burgundy (mostly made from the food-friendly Pinot Noir grape).
Fried (or tempura) seafood pairs exceptionally well with a festive glass of sparkling wine such as Prosecco, Cava, or Champagne. While this may seem like an unlikely pairing, it is actually a rather exceptional balance of flavors! The bubbles in sparkling wine cut through the heaviness of the fried food while also offering a bright contrast to the rich, savory flavor. Trust us, this pairing is worth a try!
Pairing Wine With Sushi
Typically, sushi is enjoyed with a light beer or traditional, Japanese sake (which we will talk more about later). Wine may seem like a strange beverage choice to pair with your favorite sushi roll, but the right glass can make all the difference in elevating those mouthwatering flavors!
When deciding which glass of wine you’ll pick, think about the overall flavor of the sushi rather than nitpicking the flavors found in each roll. For example, spicy rolls will pair beautifully with fruit-forward rosé, stonefruit-forward Gruner Veltliner from Austria, or German Riesling, while light rolls with whitefish will taste best with light-bodied whites like Pinot Gris or Chenin blanc.
If you’re searching for a wine that can pair with just about any sushi roll that your heart desires, look no further than for a glass of sparkling wine. Prosecco and Champagne are both famously food-friendly wines, bringing out the best flavors in just about any dish without overpowering your chosen cuisine. Plus, a glass of bubbles is just plain fun! Simply put, you can’t go wrong with a little sparkle.
Sake with Sushi
Remember when we mentioned sake earlier? Well, it’s time to take a closer look at this unique beverage. Sake is a fermented rice beverage with a similar ABV to wine, typically anywhere between 15-20%. While sake can be served cold, it is often served warm in a kettle that looks like a teapot. When enjoyed with sushi or seafood, sake has the interesting effect of eliminating the fishy flavors that are often experienced in seafood. Most sushi restaurants will likely have sake on their drink menu, but if you’d rather try out an alternative, dry sherry and dry vermouth are both fairly comparable options.
So, who’s ready for sushi night? Great, so are we! Let’s split those mouthwatering rolls and bring some wine into the mix to prepare for, quite possibly, the most delicious night ever. We can’t wait!