Best Wines to Pair with Sushi

Another post coming at you from Armchair Sommelier, of which I am a contributing writer. I’m having a blast getting to write for this site. This time around we are covering wine pairing with sushi.

This article is all about how I pair wine with sushi – leave me a comment below to share your recommendations!

Sushi on a white plate with a rosé wine and soy sauce.

The Best Wines Pairing with Sushi

Before we start, I have a confession to make… when I was still a wee-wino, I used to work at a sushi restaurant. Actually, I’ve worked at two sushi restaurants. I’m telling you this to inspire confidence, I know my way around a spicy tuna roll. 

While sake is the typical go-to for sushi pairings, I believe there’s plenty of room for wine at the table. Now, let’s get down to it!

A Quick Tip on Wine and Sushi Pairings

Before selecting the wine, you want to pair with your next sushi dinner, use the following as a guide to selecting the best wine:

Type of fish- raw or cooked

Raw seafood loves minerally, high-acid wines. Cooked seafood can be complemented by more subtle wines.

Level of spice- mild or hot

Spicy food is best complimented with subtly sweet wines. Mild dishes can be accentuated with bright, fruit-forward wines. 

Type of sauce- soy, mayo, sweet, etc. 

Soy-based sauces can be complemented with subtly sweet wines. Whereas sweet sauces or mayo-based sauces are best served with high-acid and fruit-forward wines. 

Now, if you’re like me, there’s not a sushi roll on the menu that you won’t enjoy! Therefore, I’m going to start with the wines first, followed by what sushi I think they would best pair with. 

Fish on a wood board with a glass of wine and dipping sauce.

Best Whites and Roses Wines with Sushi

White wine with fish is classic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with it. When looking for a white wine to pair with sushi, think bright, citrusy, and minerally. 

Chablis, France

A big, buttery Chardonnay is all well and good, but Chablis takes that versatile grape to a new dimension. Chablis comes from the Burgundy region of France and is known for having little to no oak flavor. Instead, it’s bright, minerally, citrusy, everything you want in a refreshing white.

Best Sushi Pairings: Nigiri and Sashimi

Prosecco, Italy

You can never go wrong with Prosecco. It’s bright, low-alcohol, and bubbly. It will cut through anything fried and add will offer a touch of sweetness to anything spicy. 

Best Sushi Pairings: Tempura, Deep Fried California Roll

Albariño, Spain

Albariño is a go-to and would work well for almost any sushi dish. It’s high acid, bright, and loaded with citrus and stone fruit notes. This one, in particular, is notable for how crisp and clean it is. This would make for a lovely pallet cleanser between rolls and will surely please every guest at the table. 

Best Sushi Pairings: Eel Roll, California Roll, Rainbow Roll

Off Dry Riesling, Germany

Riesling is wonderfully versatile and goes well with so many types of cuisine. I selected an off-dry version because that will best counterbalance spicy sushi. It will also bring sweet relief to the person at the table who always eats a whole ball of wasabi on a dare. 

Best Sushi Pairings: Spicy Tuna Roll, Volcano Roll

Provence Rosé, France

While any rosé would work just fine, I chose one from the Provence region in France because they are typically known for being dry, minerally, and fruity. This one, in particular, has plenty of bright red fruit and citrus notes that will complement shellfish in particular. 

Best Sushi Pairings: Scallop Roll

Best Red Wines to Pair with Sushi

While whites are a favorite, you’ll always have someone at the table who is a die-hard red wine drinker. Sometimes that person is me, so I can’t judge. 

When looking for the best red wine to pair with sushi, think low tannin, low alcohol, less big, bold smoke bombs. 

Pinot Noir, Oregon

I love Pinot and its various applications. It’s light-bodied, low in tannins, and offers bright red fruit notes with enough flavor to satisfy red wine lovers without assaulting any palate.

Best Sushi Pairings: Smoked salmon roll, Fried Salmon Skin Handroll 

Merlot, Washington

Okay, not everyone will agree with this pairing, but then again, not everyone that goes to a sushi restaurant will eat sushi. If you’re more of a land-eater, then you’ll want a red that can stand up against hearty dishes. This Merlot is rich in dark fruit with an earthy backbone. If nothing else, you can drink it while waiting for your sushi DoorDash delivery. 

Best Sushi Pairings: Vegetable Tempura Roll, Beef Teriyaki

Final Words

Wow, am I on a roll or what? Sorry, that had to be done.

Anyway, I hope by the time you’ve read through this article, I have convinced you that there are plenty of options for nights when you’re craving wine and sushi – you don’t need to compromise! 

The most important things to consider are how spicy your roll is, whether the seafood is raw or cooked, and what type of sauce you will be using. 

In the end, Prosecco or Albariño are excellent defaults, but the most important thing is that you actually enjoy the wine you’re drinking!

Lastly, if you’re in need of more helpful pairing options, then definitely check out this wine pairing with Indian food, or this wine pairing with pizza post. Here’s a hint: There are no wrong answers!

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