Find the Best Wine for Sushi

In our humble opinion, sushi night is the best night of the week. So, how do you choose the best wine for your sushi?

TBH, you could drive yourself a little crazy thinking about the nitty gritty details of every menu item in your cart. After all, a piece of nigiri (fish over rice) or maki (a roll), is a whole experience on its own. 

Even though wine pairing usually goes best when you consider all the tastes and textures – the cut of fish, the cooking style (or lack thereof), etc. – when it comes to sushi, we believe in keeping things simple. 

So, don’t worry about picking the right wine for each roll. Instead, think about the big picture. This way, when the sushi arrives, all you have to do is chill out and enjoy.

best white wine for sushi

Pairing Tips

Here are some wines that will work well with the whole meal, whether you like red, white, or rosé. 

Riesling

Riesling is a solid choice for sushi. Lighter cuts of fish pair well with a light-bodied white wine, and the delicate fruit notes and mouth watering acidity in Riesling do just the trick. If you prefer lean cuts of fish like white fish or yellowtail, go with a dry Riesling. If you prefer spicy bites, go with an off-dry Riesling. The sweetness in the wine will tone down the spice of the food, making for a harmonious pairing.

Provençal Rosé

Rosé from Provence is very dry with bright acidity, slate minerality, and notes of strawberry, making it an excellent pairing for sushi. It pairs particularly well with tuna, salmon, and the crab in California rolls – which makes sense because, in its hometown of Provence, it’s often paired with fish and seafood.

Pinot Noir

Red wine lovers, don’t despair. You may have heard that you should pair white wine with fish, but some rules are meant to be broken. The key is to pick a light-bodied red with mild tannins, like Pinot Noir. Strong tannins can make fish taste metallic, and obviously you want to avoid that. Red Burgundy – an Old-World Pinot Noir – or New-World Pinot from a cool-climate region like Oregon is your best bet, particularly alongside tuna or salmon.

Pairing Wine and Your Sushi Order

Tempura sushi - best wine for sushi

1. Tempura 

Deep fried and delicious, tempura pairs well with a sparkling wine like Cava or very light-bodied white wine. Vinho Verde – a white blend from Portugal with a slight effervescence – or Sauvignon Blanc are solid choices. 

Colorfast Sauvignon blanc
Bright Cellars Colorfast Sauvignon Blanc

We like to pair our tempura with Bright Cellars’ Colorfast Sauvignon Blanc. The flavors of passion fruit, white peach, and honeydew will go pair nicely with the tempura flavors.

2. Eel

Grilled eel is smoky and can be slightly caramelized. You’ll want a wine that can cut through the richness of eel, so pair your unagi (eel) roll or dragon roll (eel with avocado and hoisin-bbq sauce) with Grüner Veltliner – a light and zesty white wine with notes of lime, grapefruit, and white pepper – or Gewürztraminer, an aromatic white wine.

Herz and Heim Bottle
Bright Cellars’ Herz and Heim Grüner Veltliner

Try pairing your eel sushi with Herz and Heim Grüner Veltliner! The flavors of green apple, fresh herbs, and spicy white pepper will go nicely smoking eel.

3. Light Fish

If you’re sticking with light, lean cuts of fish – either as sashimi, nigiri, or maki – go with a light-bodied white wine like Albariño, Pinot Grigio, or Chablis – a very light, unoaked Chardonnay made in France.

Pinot Grigio - best wines for sushi
Bright Cellars’ Silverscape Pinot Grigio

For this pairing we go with Bright Cellars’ Silverscape Pinot Grigio! This bright and zippy wine has flavor notes of green apple, lemon, and lime that will go perfectly with the light fish flavors.

salmon sushi

4. Tuna and Salmon 

More oily, robust cuts of fish can handle a more intense wine. If your go-to is a Philly or Alaska roll, try a bone dry Provençal rosé or a light-bodied red. For fatty tuna – the most decadent sushi out there – go for a light red wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.

Obscura 2018 Pinot Noir
Bright Cellars’ own Obscura Pinot Noir

Our favorite vino for this pairing would be Bright Cellars’ own Obscura Pinot Noir! The flavors of raspberry, black cherry, and baking spices will pair perfectly with the more oily fish.

Spicy Tuna

5. Spicy Tuna

For rolls made with spicy mayo or chili oil, you’ll want a slightly sweet low-ABV wine to mellow out the heat. An off-dry Riesling is a great choice for spicy food lovers. 

Bright Cellars' Sunshower Riesling
Sunshower Riesling from Bright Cellars

The best low-ABV and sweet wine for this pairing is Bright Cellars’ own Sunshower Riesling. The semi-sweetness from the wine will off-set the spiciness from the sushi.

6. Vegetarian maki

If raw fish is not for you, no worries! Veggie maki pairs best with a lighter wine. Go with a light-bodied Vinho Verde for crunchy rolls with cucumber or asparagus, or a light-bodied dry rosé for avocado rolls. 

In Vino Finito

When it comes to pairing sushi with wine, don’t stress. Didn’t see your favorite menu item on the list? Email us and we can help you choose a wine to match.

For more wine wisdom, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Glass Half Full.

Interested in getting these wines in your next box? Reach out to our concierge team at concierge@brightcellars.com!

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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