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Wine & Food Pairing: Sushi

Three words best describe summer dining: light, fresh, and delicious. For me, nothing satisfies these criteria better than a casual lunch on the patio of my favourite local sushi joint. After a quick glance at the menu, I’ve decided on an assortment of nigiri sushi and cucumber rolls. But the question remains: what to wash it down with?

The first and simplest principle of wine and food pairing is that wines, and other beverages, from the same region as the cuisine usually best complement it. Quality cold sake and light Japanese beer are among the best choices for my sushi lunch. While these options are certainly delicious, this is a wine blog after all, so let’s consider another approach to wine and food pairing by matching the weight, or richness, of the food with the weight, or body, of the wine. This rule of wine and food pairing opens up a world of palate-pleasing options. The crisp, clean profile of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or the mineral characteristic of a Chardonnay from Chablis, for example, complement the lightest fare, and the fresh cucumber rolls on my plate. Foods of a medium richness, such as the lighter yellowfin tuna, demand a richer, more full-bodied wine – an oaky California Chardonnay or a viscous Mosel Riesling – and the meatiest fish, like salmon or the richer, fatty tuna belly, not only stand up to a Burgundian Pinot Noir, they share the wine’s Umami taste. But pairing wine and food isn’t always about identifying similarities; in fact, finding the right contrast can highlight flavours and enhance both the food and the wine. An aromatic white wine, with just a touch of sweetness, for instance, pairs exquisitely with many spicy and savoury dishes. Like to go heavy on the wasabi? I certainly do, so today I will opt for an off-dry and aromatic white, an Alsatian Gewürztraminer, but an Argentine Torrontes or a BC Ehrenfelser would also do nicely.

If you would rather not bother fussing over the wine list, go for a nice sparkling wine. Bubbly is refreshing and lively, and it pairs well with the variety of flavours your sushi platter may offer. Extra-dry or Brut Champagne are best, if you have deep pockets, but if you’re looking for something more affordable, choose a fruity BC bubbly or an Italian Prosecco. Perhaps the best approach of all, when it comes to food and wine pairing, is to be courageous and experiment. Have fun with it, and you might discover something amazing. Cheers!

RORY’S SUSHI PICKS:

Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer – France $20.99

Gunderloch Fritz’s Riesling – Germany $16.99

Ochagavia Sauvignon Blanc – Chile $12.99

Planning your own sushi party?  Come in and let us help you choose from a wide variety of wines and sakes that will perfectly accompany your favourite sushi dishes.

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