Top pairings | Eight great drink pairings for sushi

Top pairings

Eight great drink pairings for sushi

You might think sushi would be tricky to pair with wine but surprisingly that’s not the case. And there are other drinks that work too . . .

There are of course different toppings and fillings for sushi, some mild, some, like eel, quite strongly flavoured but I don’t think you can be chopping and changing with each bite you eat. What you do have to bear in mind is that you're not only dealing with raw fish: sushi has a touch of sweetness to take account of too. And it also depends how much soy and wasabi you add.

Here are eight drinks I think make good pairings:

Koshu and other crisp whites. If you haven’t come across koshu you will soon. It’s a crisp clean white wine that’s made in Japan from the koshu grape. Marks & Spencer even stocks one. Other crisp whites like Muscadet, Chablis, Gruner Veltliner, Gavi and even Pinot Grigio work well too.

Low dosage champagne and other dry sparkling wines such as drier styles of prosecco and Crémant d’Alsace. Delicious.

Sake Not traditional in Japan (you don’t drink sake with rice) but it’s a brilliant combo, as is fino sherry. Chilled rather than warm.

Dry riesling - very dry - so think Alsace, Austria and southern Germany rather than the Mosel or more fruity rieslings from Australia or New Zealand.

Oaked Portuguese white - can’t explain exactly why but it works especially with the more full-on flavours of modern sushi (especially if it involves sesame) See this post about a meal I had in Foz.

Young red burgundy - now this may come as a surprise. It was recommended to me by a Japanese sommelier. I still prefer a white or sparkling wine with sushi but if you prefer a red this is the type to go for. (And see this very successful pairing with red Sancerre.)

Japanese beer - not the most flavourful but it feels right. Or other light lagers. A big sweet hoppy craft beer would be too overpowering.

Genmaicha (roasted rice) tea - refreshingly nutty. Served warm rather than piping hot. Green tea (though not matcha) is nice too.

image by Natalia Lisovskaya at

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Comments: 6 (Add)

M Ben on December 27 2021 at 07:43

Fruity Australian rieslings? What were you drinking when you wrote this?

Anyway a dry Aussie Claire Valley riesling is usually my go to with sashimi

Julian Elloway on February 23 2021 at 16:09

Thank you for this. What is the M&S wine made from Koshu grape? I can’t find it on the M&S website. Thank you.

Fiona Beckett on March 24 2018 at 07:18

By fruity I don't mean sweet, Raymo, but I detect a distinct lime character in Clare Valley riesling for example.

Raymo on March 24 2018 at 07:13

I don’t know what your experience is with Australian wines but Australian rieslings are not fruity. If anything, they are even drier than their European counterparts.

Natasha on June 17 2016 at 18:37

Chateau Yquem say that their wine works very well with Sushi!

Rob on March 12 2014 at 22:08

Very good article.
For me, working-day lunches; O-cha, Mugicha, Genmaicha, Hōjicha or any other type of 'cha'!
Non-work day lunches and any evening; Junmaishu (the purest form of Nihonshu). Failing this, any of your suggested wines.
Your website never fails to impress, thanks!

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