The Only Type Of Wine You Should Pair With Sushi, According To An Expert

Choosing the proper wine to pair with a meal can be challenging. Some of the old guidelines seem oversimplified today, stating that red wine is best for red meat, white wine for lighter dishes, and sweet wine for dessert. This doesn't take into account the wine's sweetness, acidity, tannins, alcohol content, and body, and for a delicate meal like sushi, each trait of the vino needs to be balanced just right.

Food Republic consulted an expert, Nicki McTague, President of Denver-based Infinite Monkey Theorem (IMT), to find out which type of wine we should pair with sushi. IMT is a women-owned-and-operated vineyard-less winery with an onsite taproom and wine club. According to McTague, "The perfect harmony of flavor comes out when you match the acidity of dry whites and delicate sushi flavors. In my opinion, you should say goodbye to overpowering reds and hello to a match made in white wine and sushi heaven!"

A crisp and tart white wine doesn't overwhelm the subtler tastes of sushi, and cuts through fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel while complementing the taste of lighter seafood. McTague says, "From sashimi to hand rolls, the key is finding a crisp, clean, and high-acidity wine." Even vegetarian rolls containing fatty avocado, or featuring fried fish (like a tempura or spider roll), will taste delicious with McTague's recommendation.

You have a lot of options for a dry white wine

Dry white wine isn't a very narrow category — it's made with all sorts of different grapes, so picking the right bottle is also influenced by your tastes. Nicki McTague suggests, "Grab an earthy Grüner or mineral-filled Chablis, and your tastebuds will thank you." Chablis is a light-bodied French variety that happens to fall into Ina Garten's favorite wine category. Although it's made from Chardonnay grapes, Chablis has some differences from Chardonnay wine, a big one being that it's aged in steel and not oak. It retains its minerality and won't overpower delicate fish. 

If you enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, try a Grüner Veltliners, which has a peppery undertone. You can also consider a dry Riesling, a varietal that spans a wide range of tastes. Look for a lighter style like Kabinett, which is fruity yet dry. The slight sweetness of both Grüner and Riesling wines is a nice balance for a spicy tuna sushi bowl.

You also can't go wrong with an OG Italian Pinot Grigio, which is nice and light-bodied, while the aforementioned Sauvignon Blanc is similar, but bolder. Both are citrusy wines that pair well with all types of raw fish, enhancing their flavor. New Zealand and California make excellent Sauvignon Blanc labels. When dinner happens to be a celebration, you could even try a dry Champagne or Prosecco.