TASTE JAPANESE FOOD WITH WINE
Words: Yuko Frost
Although wine culture is still relatively new to Japan, just like any other cuisine almost any Japanese dish can go well with a nice glass of wine. Here are some suggestions I want you to try with your next Japanese dinner, whether it is at home or at a fine dining restaurant.
RAW WHITE FISH – DRY SPARKLING, RIESLING, SEMILLON OR KOSHU
For a delicate white fish sashimi and sushi like kingfish or snapper, you want something crisp and delicate with good acidity. These tart white wines can also go well with wasabi. Another delicious way to match sashimi and white wine is replacing soy sauce and wasabi with lime and rock salt.
RAW RED FISH – DRY ROSE, PINOT NOIR OR SANGIOVESE
Who said a red wine won’t go well with fish? I like matching fatty fish like salmon and tuna with dry rose or light red wine with soft tannin such as Pinot Noir or Sangiovese. These red wines also have relatively higher acidity which also helps freshen up your palate.
TEMPURA – LIGHTLY OAKED CHARDONNAY, VIOGNIER OR FIANO
I like matching prawn or vegetable tempura with round, textural white wines such as Chardonnay or Viognier. The white wine’s acidity works just like lemon over food to cleanse the oiliness of the dish. Avoid heavily oaked styles that could overwhelm food flavours.
YAKITORI (CHARCOAL GRILLED CHICKEN SKEWERS) – PINOT NOIR
This is my favourite combination. Yakitori and Pinot Noir. Try it with earthy style Pinot with density from Bourgogne, Mornington Peninsula or Central Otago.
UNAGI (EEL) – GAMAY, GRENACHE, PINOTAGE OR MUSCAT BAILY
A Spicy, sweet-savoury BBQ unagi goes well with these spicy, earthy red wines. Muscat Baily A is a hybrid black grape that is extensively grown in Japan which also has a similar flavour profile. If you have a chance, try it, it works!
GYOZA – DRY ROSE, PINOT GRIS OR CHENIN BLANC
From a Japanese point of view, gyoza is more of a Chinese food rather than Japanese, but it is still a very popular dish in Japan too. I like matching it with dry rose or dry or off-dry Chenin Blanc or Pinot Gris.
I hope you enjoy your next Japanese dinner with some good drops and, of course, with very good company. Cheers!