Japanese cuisine is an exciting blend of both traditional staples and modern influences. Whatever the dish, the focus tends to be on fresh, seasonal ingredients and clean flavors. A typical Japanese meal consists of rice or noodles, soup, fresh vegetables and protein, which is often seafood.
When deciding what to drink with a Japanese meal, sake is probably the first thing that comes to mind, and understandably so. Sake originated in Japan and one can usually find an extensive Sake menu in any Japanese or sushi restaurant. But Sake isn’t the only option when it comes to Japanese cuisine. Wine can make an exceptional pairing to elevate your dining experience. We have some recommendations for you to try with your next Japanese meal.
Best Red Wine With Japanese Food
As a whole, red wines are not going to be your best choice. However, if red is your preference, you should select a soft, low-tannin red.
- Barbera: juicy, light, with notes of strawberry and sour cherry.
- Pinot Noir: always a popular choice; light on body, high on aromatics.
- Beaujolais: also known as Gamay, light, fruity and low tannins.
Best White Wine With Japanese Food
Crisp, acidic whites will make excellent pairings with many Japanese dishes.
- Riesling: Light, sweet, crisp, and highly acidic. Known for being food-friendly.
- Sauvignon Blanc: highly acidic, fruity, dry white with herb tones.
- Rosé: bright acidity with strong berry flavor.
- Grüner Veltliner: Light, citrus-focused flavors of lime, lemon and grapefruit.
- Champagne: Bubbly, floral, and fruity with notes of citrus, peach, or cherry.
Pairing Wine With Various Japanese Dishes
Pairing Wine With Onigiri
These balls of rice wrapped in seaweed paper can have many fillings, but your best for wine pairings will be a Brut Champagne or any dry sparkling white wine.
Pairing Wine With Yakitori
A crisp, grassy Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect complement to these char-grilled chicken skewers.
Pairing Wine With Sukiyaki
This dish of slow-cooked fatty beef, vegetables and noodles will go nicely with a Pinot Noir.
Pairing Wine With Sushi
The types of sushi are abundant, but some good all-around pairings would be high-acid whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling. You will want to avoid fruity, high-tannin reds as these will overpower the fish and anything high in alcohol will exacerbate the heat in spicy sushi rolls or wasabi.
Pairing Wine With Sashimi
You’ll want to take care to not overpower the delicate flavors of the fish. Albariño or a Pinot Grigio will fit the bill nicely.
Pairing Wine With Beef Teppanyaki
This is a rare time when a bold red will be your best selection. We recommend Bordeaux.
Pairing Wine With Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu is a deep-fried pork cutlet. The acidity of a Grüner Veltliner or an off-dry Riesling will cut through the fat. You could also choose a Rioja, if you prefer reds.
Pairing Wine With Karaage
Karaage refers to any protein deep fried in oil. Similar to Tonkatsu, a high-acid white like Grüner Veltliner or Albariño will complement most karaage dishes.
Pairing Wine With Oden
Oden is a fish cake stew in a light, dashi broth. Red or white, a wine low in tannins and higher in acidity will pair nicely. Try Grüner Veltliner or a Rioja.
Pairing Wine With Miso Soup
Miso is relatively salty, so a light, slightly sweet white, like Sauvignon Blanc or Sauternes, will pair nicely.
Pairing Wine With Ramen, Yakisoba, or Udon
Pinot Noir or Beaujolais are perfect complements to these popular, noodle-based soups.
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Pairing Wine With Japanese Food
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