I like sushi. Check that: I love sushi; I would eat it 5 times a week if I could afford to do so.
Generally, a good sake remains — for me — the best match for most types of sushi, particularly if I'm having spicy rolls and/or laying on the wasabi heavily. But, I'm not quite as educated on sake as I'd like, and sushi is as good a reason as any to open up a white wine from my rack.
Recently, I opened up FOUR whites with a selection of salmon sushi (regular sushi piece on white rice, an avocado and salmon roll, and a “double salmon” roll). And, all four worked pretty well — and, I think they'll work with other types of sushi, such as tuna, raw shrimp, yellowtail, scallop, fluke, etc.
Martin Codax Albarino
This is typical Albarino in that it has a distinct mineral quality, good acidity, and white fruit — these elements come straight from the alluvial, granite, slate, and sandy soils of the cool and wet Maritime climate of the Rias Baixas region of Galicia, Spain. The mineral character is an obviously perfect match with just about all seafood. Disclosure: this wine was sent to me as a press sample.
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Woodbridge Pinot Grigio
Generally, I wouldn't have given this wine a second thought, based on principle: to me, “Pinot Grigio” comes from Italy. Further, I usually shy away from purchasing mass-marketed wine brands at a retail shop — not necessarily because I'm a snob, but because there are so many other interesting wines to choose from at a good wine shop, and I have plenty of opportunities to taste wines from the “big boys” at chain restaurants with bad wine lists. But, again, I must disclose that this wine was sent to me as a press sample, so I felt obliged to give it a try. As expected, it doesn't have the racy acidity nor mineral qualities one would expect from a “real” Pinot Grigio from northern Italy. But, its round, slightly melon-flavored California character is actually a good match for the lean salmon sushi.
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Carpineto “Dogajolo” Bianco
Like the Woodbridge, Dogajolo is a bit fatter and rounder than an Italian Pinot Grigio, making it a good match for sushi (and other lean dishes). This wine is actually from Italy, but it's a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and Grechetto. The Chardonnay gives the roundness, good weight, and a mild ripe pear flavor; the Sauvignon provides some acidity, citrus, floral notes; I'm not sure what the Grechetto brings, since I've never had a pure Grechetto. Disclosure: I work for the company that imports this wine (Opici Wines).
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Quivira Sauvignon Blanc, Fig Tree Vineyard
This was the most expensive of the four and, not surprisingly, the most complex. Like the Pinot Grigio, its California roots came through — round, good weight, more pear and floral aromas than the green, grassy, “pipi du chat” character you get from French Sauvignon. The flavor was dominated by pear and lime with a hint of spice, and the acidity was mild. It worked very nicely with the salmon sushi, and I think it would work even better with more flavorful sushi such as eel and mackerel. Again, full disclosure: this was received as a sample. If only a sushi company would send me samples as well, I'd really be in business!
Find Quivira Sauvignon Blanc “Fig Tree Vineyards” at a retailer near you
Next time I'll get a more interesting array of sushi dishes and try more whites. Meantime, what wines do you enjoy with sushi? Share your thoughts in the comments.