Wine and Japanese Food Pairing

Japanese cuisine at Kobe Jones is a unique blend of fresh ingredients that mix both traditional and modern influences. It’s all about clean flavours, pure ingredients and creativity. Many Japanese dishes can be very simple, often containing only a few ingredients that really pack a punch.

Pairing wine with Japanese cuisine may seem a little odd at first, however it can actually offer some seriously successful flavour combinations, enhancing the meal and making it one to remember. In the same way that sake and traditional Japanese liqueurs can pair with food, wine brings a new element to the table. Let’s take a look at some examples and guidance when it comes to pairing wine with Japanese food.

Pairing wine with Japanese raw food like sushi and sashimi

When it comes to Japanese cuisine, raw food is an absolute staple, much more so than in Western cuisine. From the famous sashimi made from delicate raw fish, to pickled vegetables, Japanese cuisine fully embraces the beauty of fresh ingredients.

When it comes to pairing wine with sushi and sashimi, crisp, clean and pure wine flavours are needed. Examples of wine that would be excellent to pair with sushi and sashimi include a bright riesling, a down to earth Gruner Veltliner, or a mineral Chablis. These wines will work together with the food to enhance the unique flavour, and provide an extra layer of texture to the meal. You could also pair wines like these with other fresh seafood, beef tartare or crisp vegetables that have been marinated in a Japanese sauce, like cucumber or carrot.

If you’d like to get a little more exact with your wine pairing, some say that red wine works well with red sashimi (especially tuna), and white sashimi (such as kingfish) works well with white wine. The delicate flavours of the white fish are complemented by the soft acidity of the white wine, and the red fish is complemented by bolder wines containing characters of fruit (such as a riesling or a rose).

Pairing wine with Japanese soups

Many Japanese foods are underscored by delicious and nutritious liquids. Whether they’re broths or soups, these liquids bring ‘umami’ (known as the ‘fifth flavour’ alongside sweet, salty, savoury and bitter) flavours to dishes. Whether it’s dashi broth or a classic miso soup you’re pairing the wine with, nothing is better than a savoury, fortified wine like Fino or Manzanilla sherry. Any wine that has a particularly salty or savoury element to it will work well here.

Pairing wine with tempura or Japanese grilled dishes

Japanese cuisine is also a big fan of delicious fried, battered and grilled dishes like tempura, katsu, karaage and agedashi tofu. These dishes are typically suited to pairing with a wide variety of wines, however the softer foodie flavours usually work with aromatic and fuller-bodied whites, such as Pinot Gris or Chardonnay. Light to medium reds can also work spectacularly well, like Pinot Noir, Gamay or Grenache.

In Japanese cuisine, even with grilled, fried and battered dishes, the aim is always to highlight the natural flavours and textures of the original ingredient – never to cloud it with additional sauces, additives or excessive herbs. Grilled or fried meats work perfectly with fragrant red wines with lighter bodies, with their structure pairing well with traditional yakitori beef, chicken or pork.

Wine pairings for unique Kobe Jones dishes

At Kobe Jones, we have an extensive beverage menu of the finest wines, beers, cocktails and liqueurs, all perfectly formulated and matched with our Japanese dishes. Here are some examples of what kind of drinks you should choose the next time you dine at Kobe Jones, depending on what you order.

  • Our famous Green Tea Salmon – Warm smoked Petuna salmon that has been cooked for six hours after marinating in green tea, served with wasabi mash and nori cream, balsamic syrup and Autumn herbs. Pair with a champagne, a fruity white or a dry riesling.
  • Wagyu Tataki – Wagyu AA5+ sirloin, seared rare and served with garlic chips, momochi oroshi and ponzu sauce. Pair with a pinot noir, a light red or a sparkling rose.
  • Hawaiian Roll – Marinated Saikou salmon, kingfish, tuna and snapper, rolled with burdock root and cucumber with roasted sesame seeds, poke sauce, shallots and a bittersweet soy glaze. Pair tuna with a light Pinot Noir or a mature, deep red.
  • Panko Pacific Oysters – Pacific oysters covered in a Japanese panko crumb and served with a honey wasabi mayonnaise. Pair with a dry Riesling or a fruity white.

Enhancing your meal with the right wine pairing

Although not a particularly common element of Japanese cuisine, there’s nothing to stop the right wine choice enhancing a Japanese meal. Whether you’re feasting on sushi and sashimi, indulging in some fresh seafood like Alaskan crab, or dining on grilled, fried or battered delicacies, there’s always a wine that’s going to suit your Japanese meal perfectly.

At Kobe Jones, we’re experts in Japanese food and wine pairing, and are happy to recommend the right drop to accompany your meal. If you’d like to take a look at our menu to plan for your next visit, please do so here.

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