Japanese cuisine has been influenced by the food customs of other nations, but has adopted and refined them to create its own unique cooking style and eating habits. The first foreign influence on Japan was China around 300 B.C. , when the Japanese learned to cultivate rice. The use of chopsticks and the consumption of soy sauce and soybean curd (tofu) also came from China.
The history of sushi is surrounded by legends and folklore and it‘s concept was likely introduced to Japan in the ninth century, and became popular there as Buddhism spread. The Buddhist dietary practice of abstaining from meat meant that many Japanese people turned to fish as a dietary staple.
The usual pairing at sushi restaurants with beer, wine or sake is due to environmental factors. But as long as you have a controlled amount of soy and wasabi most Champagnes will not only hold well against the raw fish but.
Wine cuts through the oiliness of the fish and the lesser acidity brought by use of rice wine vinegar. Also, Pinot Noir, by itself, seems to be one of the wines that works well with sushi. Due to the dominance of Pinot Noir in this Rosé blend, and the presence of Pinot Meunier, all the allied factors made for a successful experience.
Shrimp nigiri goes very well with Pinot Gris while spicy tuna roll with an off-dry Riesling, mouth filling, with sweet stone fruit to stand up to the spice and a mineral edge. The salmon roll makes the tart cherry and citrus from a dry rosé wine pop and its minerality turn to sweet brininess.
Not traditional in Japan (you don’t drink sake with rice) but it’s a brilliant combo. It’s amazing how different food can taste when you have it with sake. Sake is lower than wine in tart components such as tartaric and malic acids but higher in amino acids, as a result, it is a beverage rich in umami, the “fifth taste” that makes the savory flavors of sushi and sashimi so appealing. The clean and crisp Ginjo or Junmai Ginjo acts like a good wash that cleans up the soy sauce and allows you to taste the fish. Some people like really dry sakes in this case a little fruit tone works well with the soy sauce.
The most common beers for sushi are Japanese rice lagers but you can try bumping up to a proper pilsner. The added bitterness and hops bring out rich salty-sweet and earthy flavors in the dish. A softer version of pilsner, Kölsch bring out a more subdued salty sweetness and the hoppy floral burst is replaced by an intensification of the yeast-derived fruitiness that is only hinted at when the beer is consumed alone. Yeast is high in protein and so is also high in umami. It only stands to reason that a yeasty hefeweizen would be a good match to sushi. Light citric acidity pumps up the saltiness of the soy sauce. Clovey spice plays well with the spicy wasabi. Wheaty sweetness and banana flavors provide a soft bed on which everything rests.
The high-yeast content of both champagne and soy sauce partly accounts for this compatibility. Extra Brut or Nature champagnes with their low sugar levels allows full expression to the aromas and texture of the raw fish. Rosé champagnes are a great match with fish dishes but also with the stronger flavours and nuances of certain sushi and maki.
Low dosage champagne and other dry sparkling wines such as drier styles of prosecco and Crémant d’Alsace are perfect too.