5 great sushi & wine matches

Pairing with sushi can be tricky––wasabi and ginger?––but fragrant whites are the secret

Salmon Roll

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Sushi and wine: Salmon roll

The wine: Dry rosé

Pairing hint: Pink on pink—too fun to resist. But even if the colors didn’t match, the salmon makes the tart cherry and citrus in the wine pop and its minerality turn to sweet brininess.

Our pick: Bonny Doon 2009 “Vin Gris de Cigare” (Central Coast; $15). Watermelon, cherry, and raspberry, rounded with roses and spiked with lime.

Unagi nigiri

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Sushi and wine: Unagi nigiri

The wine: Gewürztraminer

Pairing hint: An exotic match, with the spiciness of the wine matching the spicy sauce on the sushi and setting off the earthiness of the eel; the ginger closes the loop on the wine’s aromatics.

Our pick: Thomas Fogarty 2008 Gewürztraminer (Monterey County; $14). Tropical night in a bottle, from Asian pear and guava to pineapple and piquant jasmine.

Spicy Tuna Roll

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Sushi and wine: Spicy tuna roll

The wine: Very barely off-dry Riesling

Pairing hint: You need a big-bodied white for the meaty fish. Riesling is mouth filling, with sweet stone fruit to stand up to the spice and a mineral edge that loves the brininess of nori.

Our pick: Dashe 2009 McFadden Farm Dry Riesling (Potter Valley; $20). Bright stone fruit, pink grapefruit, and guava wrapped in jasmine.

Crab roll

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Sushi and wine: Crab roll

The wine: Grüner Veltliner

Pairing hint: With sweet crab, the citrus in “Grüner” (a new immigrant Austrian grape) turns to gorgeous lime, and all of its aromatics make a showing.

Our pick: Chehalem 2009 Grüner Veltliner (Ribbon Ridge; $19). Juicy apple carries lemon, grapefruit, and herbs under a layer of haunting jasmine.


Shrimp nigiri

Photo by Jeffery Cross

Shrimp and wine: Shrimp nigiri

The wine: Pinot Gris

Pairing hint: Apple and aromatic stone fruit in the wine are perfect links to sweet shrimp, with a hit of citrus serving as a spritz of lemon.

Our pick: Morgan 2009 R&D Franscioni Vineyard Pinot Gris (Santa Lucia Highlands; $17). Layers of citrus, Asian pear, tart apple, and crisp white peach.

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