Happy Marriage: Great Wines with Japanese Food

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Yes, I realize the obvious choice here is sake. But there are plenty of (grape) wine pairings that can be just as fortuitous. Japanese cuisine offers a delicate balance between subtle flavors and intense ones (wasabi, anyone?), which can present some matching challenges.

The key is to find a wine that can stand up to big flavors without overshadowing the more muted ones. Here are a few happy matches for some common Japanese dishes from our expert wine blogger at SpinTheBottleNY. Enjoy!

Miso soup/mushroom soup/ramen: Salty, umami-rich foods, particularly soups, work extremely well with sherry. And not the sweet, cream sherry of English grandmothers – we’re talking about dry sherries, like this Hidalgo Amontillado sherry. Its nutty, almost saline character, makes it a perfect pairing.




Sushi/sashimi featuring lean fish, like fluke or shellfish: The key here is not to overwhelm the milder flavors and lighter textures at play. Sancerre, like this offering from Lucien Crochet, is a wise choice.  Its mineral flavors offer a nice counterbalance to the fish – very “surf and turf.”

Sushi/sashimi featuring fatty fish, like tuna or mackerel: Here you need to go big or go home. In other words, champagne. Bollinger is full-bodied enough to stand up to the fattiness and richness at play here. Of course, if you’re looking for a near Masa-level splurge, you could always pick up some Grande Année, which is Bollinger’s vintage offering.


Want more wine pairings?