Japanese cuisine is known for its refinement, freshness, and originality. Japanese dishes, from sushi and sashimi to tempura and nigiri, have conquered palates around the world. Japanese gastronomy is a dance of flavors based on fresh ingredients and delicate flavors that enhance the purity of food.
But have you ever wondered how to pair Japanese food with wine? Although Japanese food has traditionally been associated with sake (a type of rice wine with an alcohol content of 14–16%), the adaptation of Japanese cuisine to wine-producing countries has led to the exploration of creative and intriguing combinations of these dishes with otherworldly wines.
Wine goes well with Japanese food, but it’s important to remember that tastes are subjective and everyone has individual preferences. Some guests may still prefer traditional sake, while others enjoy the adventure of trying new wine pairings.
Here are some suggestions for pairing different styles of wine with different Japanese dishes:
Dry White Wine: A light, dry white wine like Viura or Albariño pairs perfectly with sushi and sashimi as it brings out the freshness of the fish and softens the acidity of the rice vinegar.
Sparkling wines such as canvas, corpinnat, rioja, and champagne are great for enhancing the experience of dishes such as premium sushi and the finest seafood sashimi.
Rosé wines: Especially those with a dry and fruity profile pair well with dishes like shrimp tempura, bringing out their flavor and texture.
Light red wine: A Garnacha or pinot noir can harmonize with nigiri dishes. In this direction, a Gran Reserva de Rioja fits perfectly.
Port or Sherry: For dishes with more intense sauces like ramen, a port or sherry can be an interesting pairing with many of these Japanese dishes.
Recently, to my amazement, I found out that a Japanese restaurant in Logroo, which is, in my opinion, one of the best in Spain for its exquisite cuisine, has decided not to include the possibility of interpreting its dishes with alcoholic beverages.
Out of the greatest respect for each individual’s freedom to do as he or she sees fit at home, I am at least amazed that the owner justifies the removal of wine from his menu by saying it distorts the reality of the moment and is off-balance disturbed. In short, wine has no place in the sensory experience you seek.
I insist on respecting this decision, and I think it is a big mistake that lovers of Japanese cuisine in a region where our history is linked to wine and its culture, among other things, do not enjoy it with a good wine or high-quality sparkling wine.
I would ask this great chef to reconsider his decision as there is no better combination than his excellent food with a good wine that does not deprive us of this wonderful combination.
These decisions make me uncomfortable. I feel little more than a barbarian who can’t enjoy Japanese food and loses focus after a second glass of wine. Personally, a delicious nigiri with water or tea amazes me.
In short, the richness and diversity of the wine world offer exciting pairing possibilities with delicious Japanese dishes. Whether you prefer sake or wine or want to taste both, I believe the key is to explore and savor the flavor combination that brings out the unique essence of each dish and drink.
Finally, my utmost respect also goes to those who decide to pair Japanese food with water or tea.