Best 20 Wine and Sushi Pairings – How to pair Sushi and Wine

How to pair wine and sushi? Discover the rules for pairing wine and sushi, pairing sushi and white, red, rosé and sparkling wine. You will also find the list of the most famous types of sushi with corresponding recommendations for pairing with wine.



Which wine to pair with Sushi? Sushi is the flagship of Japanese gastronomic culture and is the most consumed and appreciated Japanese food abroad.

In fact, there are countless sushi restaurants distributed all over the world where Japanese cuisine over time has been contaminated with the local food and wine culture. The question therefore arises spontaneously: how to pair wine and sushi?


Before understanding how to pair wine and sushi, some premise on what sushi is is useful.

The term Sushi indicates a multitude of typical dishes of Japanese cuisine based on rice and other ingredients such as fish, nori seaweed, eggs and vegetables.

The filling of Sushi is generally raw and can be served resting on rice, rolled in a strip of seaweed, placed in rice rolls or stuffed inside tofu balls. Sushi is often served with pickled ginger (gari), wasabi and soy sauce. Daikon radish or pickled daikon (takuan).

The origin of the name derives from the Japanese word sushi which means ‘seasoned rice’ and refers to a wide range of rice-based foods. The history of Sushi has its origins in the 4th century AD. In Southeast Asia, fermented rice was in fact used as a method of preserving fish. In fact, fermented rice created an acidic environment which allowed the fish to be stored for months.

Outside of Japan, the term Sushi is mistakenly associated with raw fish and a few types of sushi such as maki, nigiri and sashimi. The latter, however, unlike Sushi, is exclusively raw fresh fish without rice.


In order to pair wine and Sushi it is essential to know what the types of Sushi are. We can identify five most common types of Sushi:

Chirashi sushi (散らし寿司)

Chirashi Sushi

The Chirashi sushi type (Sushi scattered) should be taken into consideration when pairing sushi and wine. It is a kind of rice salad served in a bowl and topped with a variety of raw fish and vegetable side dishes. Particularly delicate dish, recommended with young white wines without passage in wood from Friuli, Alto Adige and Trentino, or Valle d’Aosta.

Inari sushi (稲荷寿司)

Inari Sushi

Among the types of Sushi to pair with wine, the Inari Sushi is very interesting. This particular type of sushi is devoid of raw fish but consists of rice balls coated with a ‘pocket’ of fried tofu.
The fried component of this type is particularly suitable for pairing with sparkling wines, so that the greasiness of the fried food is mitigated by the effervescence of the wines. In this case, even simple Charmat method sparkling wines such as Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Pignoletto, Ribolla Gialla and Fior d’Arancio can be a good sushi wine pairing.

Maki sushi (巻き寿司)

Hosomaki,Futomaki, Temaki, Huramaki.

Very common and fundamental for pairing wine and sushi are Makizushi (‘rolled sushi). This type consists of a cylindrical piece of sushi formed with the help of a bamboo mat (makisu), generally wrapped in nori (seaweed). In some cases it is wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber or shiso leaves.

Maki sushi are made in four main types: Futomaki (wide rolls), Hosomaki (thin rolls), Temaki (cone-shaped rolls), Uramaki (inner-outer rolls). This type of Sushi is very heterogeneous therefore it will be advisable to carefully evaluate the ingredients to choose the ideal sushi wine pairing. We will learn more in the following paragraphs.

Nigiri sushi (握り寿司)

Nigiri Sushi

Among the most delicate types to discover the pairing of wine and sushi are the Nigiri. These are small rice balls generally garnished with thin slices of fish which in some cases is tied with a thin strip of nori.

Also in this case they are particularly suitable for pairing sushi wine with young white wines of good aromaticity but with a moderate structure.

Oshi sushi (押し寿司)

Oshi Sushi

More rare but still very particular for the pairing of wine and sushi is Oshi Sushi. A rectangular block formed using a wooden form called oshibako and stuffed often with pickled mackerel, boiled shiitake mushrooms, clams, scrambled egg strips.

Also in this case the sushi wine pairing will have to be accorded with the ingredients that are very variable.


Which wine to pair with sushi? Sushi and Sashimi are made with quite variable ingredients, from the leanest molluscs and crustaceans, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sea bass) but also vegetables.

In addition, it can range from simpler dishes such as sashimi, up to the complexity of sushi embellished with spicy and sweet and sour sauces, spices, fish eggs, spreadable cheeses, toasted seeds and much more.

In addition, Sushi can be made with both raw fish and cooked fish and even fried. So what is the ideal wine to pair with sushi? Identifying a wine to pair with Sushi is possible, some solutions are more versatile while others will be more recommended only with some types and with specific ingredients. Let’s start with some elementary principles of pairing wine and sushi.


  • Match the strong aroma of sushi with wines with eloquent aromas (particularly recommended wines from semi-aromatic and aromatic vines).
  • Match the sweet trend of sushi with wines of good flavor.
  • Match the structure of the sushi with that of the wines. Often dealing with raw fish with tender and delicate meat, opting for white, rosé or sparkling wines may be the simplest option as they are characterized by greater acidity (freshness) and less structure. In some cases, however, even pairing sushi with red wines or orange wines, with the necessary precautions that we will address, can turn out to be a highly appreciated original idea.

Pairing sushi and white wine

Pairing white wines and sushi? Semi-aromatic and aromatic white wines are considered the most suitable and versatile in pairing wine and sushi. This is due to their higher acidity, capable of integrating with the human component of soy and the sweet tendency and delicate structure of fish and rice.

Younger, more immediate white wines can be perfect for plain sushi and sashimi. On the contrary, more full-bodied, evolved wines aged sur lies and with wooden passages can be suitable for pairing with fatty sushi rich in aromas. Let’s find out some examples with this wine and sushi pairing approach.

Also worth discovering is the sushi pairing with Italian white wines from indigenous vines with a strong aroma. The wines of Friuli, Alto Adige and Trentino, Irpinia, Etna or Piedmont should be considered in particular, as they are generally among the Italian wines with greater acidity. Did someone say Sushi and Gewürztraminer? The South Tyrolean aromatic grape is an infallible classic with sushi.

Pairing sushi and wines from international grape varieties? Alternatively, aromatic white wines and international semi-aromatic wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon, Chardonnay from continental or south-continental areas can always be effective solutions for pairing wine with sushi.

Pairing sushi and rosé wine

Pairing rosé wines and sushi? Rosé wines are among the most versatile in wine and sushi pairings as they are endowed with freshness but also with the structure and flavor necessary to support more complex dishes. The chromatic pairing with sushi dishes embellished with red or pink colors such as caviar, salmon or lumpfish is also very interesting.

If you are looking for a rosé wine for more delicate sushi, try the rosé wines from Valtenesi or Bardolino Chiaretto and Alto Adige, for more structured sushi dishes you can instead opt for rosé wines from Etna and Salento. Very interesting for the sushi pairing with rosé sparkling wines of classic method wines such as Franciacorta Rosé, Oltrepò Pavese Cruasé, Alta Langa Rosé.

Pairing sushi and sparkling wines

Pairing sparkling wines and sushi? Sparkling wines can be a valid option for pairing wine and sushi, capable of harmonizing the umami component, the spicy spice of sauces thanks to the marked acidity and cleansing power of CO2.

In addition, the effervescence of sparkling wines is able to mitigate the greasiness of frying, therefore Sushi with tempura-fried shrimp, fried mushrooms, or fried tofu, as in the case of Inari Sushi, is particularly suitable.

More delicate Charmat method sparkling wines can be paired with delicate sashimi or sushi, while more complex classic method sparkling wines are sensational with very elaborate sushi. Try the Classic Method sparkling wines also with the spicy tuna rolls.

Pairing sushi and red wines

Pairing red wines and sushi? Red wines are the most difficult wines to pair with sushi. The tannins of red wine and the higher alcohol content that distinguishes many red wines could in fact take precedence over the delicate balance of raw fish and rice.

However, when pairing red wine and particularly structured sushi based on fatty fish, low tannin wines with good acidity and possibly with a slight sugary residue can be preferred, which will go well with the umami of the soy sauce.

For example, Schiava, Lagrein, Bardolino, Valpolicella, Ruché and some more vertical types of Barbera and Chianti Classico should be considered. Interesting when paired with sushi with French red wines such as Pinot Noir, Gamay del Beaujolais.


Gewürztraminer (ゲヴュルツトラミネール)

Gewürztraminer is highly recommended among the classic and popular wine and sushi pairings. The aromatic vine par excellence from South Tyrol boasts a rich aromatic complement, good freshness and a moderate structure. These characteristics make it particularly versatile with many types of sushi, from the simplest to the most spicy and even spicy ones.

In the photo Gewürztraminer Vina Kastelaz ‘by Elena Walch

Derthona Timorasso (ティモラッソ)

Among the winning wine and sushi pairings we find Timorasso: Timorasso wines are characterized by good acidity and great mineral flavor, characterized by floral aromas that with aging are embellished with suggestive tones of salt and hydrocarbons (TDN).

This aromatic complexity of the most advanced wines makes Timorasso an original and winning pairing of sushi wine. Also highly recommended with elaborate sushi garnished with fish roe or truffle.

In the photo Timorasso Colli Tortonesi by Cantine Volpi

Vernaccia di San Gimignano (ヴェルナッチャディサンジミニャーノ)

It is very interesting to consider Vernaccia di San Gimignano for the pairing of wine and sushi. Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva DOCG boasts a prolonged aging, good structure and flavor. In addition, with evolution, complex aromas of saltiness and brackish notes mature that recall the soil of San Gimignano, rich in marine fossils.

It is an excellent Sushi wine pairing for particularly structured dishes based on smoked salmon and herring and dishes rich in spices and sauces with a sweet tendency such as Seattle rolls. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is however less recommended for delicate Sushi dishes due to its important structure and moderate acidity. Try it with Wasabi, which traces the pungent notes of Vernaccia in a unique way.

In the photo Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva Antalis di Mormoraia

Sauvignon (ソーヴィニヨン・ブラン)

The pairing of sushi and Sauvignon Blanc wine is a real classic. Sauvignon is a semi-aromatic vine characterized by fruity-floral notes complemented by vegetal nuances of boxwood and tomato leaf. This vegetable component can be an excellent pairing especially with vegetable-based Sushi and spreadable cheeses such as Philadelphia rolls.

Sensational is the pairing of sushi wine between Sauvignon and sushi with avocado and cucumber as in the California Rolls. Try it also with Wakame seaweed salad and Sushi dishes dressed with asparagus.

Of great interest in addition to the Sauvignon del Collio also those from Alto Adige, the Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Touraine, or from New Zealand.

In the photo, Tiefenbrunner’s Sauvignon Rachtl

Franciacorta Sàten (フランチャコルタ)

Franciacorta Sàten is a classic brut method wine particularly suitable with sushi for bubble lovers. This wine, in addition to boasting the richness of aromas typical of a Classic Method, is characterized by a moderate effervescence that gives the perlage a soft and creamy consistency.

For this reason, Franciacorta Sàten is an excellent sushi wine pairing ideal with many types of dishes. Try it especially with Uramaki Sushi embellished with a crust of toasted sesame seeds, so that the typical fragrant notes of the sparkling wine are combined with the toasted ones. Sensational the sushi wine pairing between Franciacorta and Dynamite roll.

In the photo the Franciacorta Satèn of Ca ‘del Bosco

Oltrepo’ Pavese Metodo Classico

Pairing sushi and sparkling wine? The pairing of sushi wine with Classic Method sparkling wines based on Pinot Nero from Oltrepò Pavese is very interesting. The good acidity, the savory backbone and the creamy perlage given by the long aging on the lees can be an excellent sushi garnished with shrimp or tempura fried mushrooms pairing. Also ideal with fried tofu, as in the coating of Inari Sushi.

Pairing ideas for sushi and rosé classic method wine? The chromatic pairing of red caviar such as Ikura and flying fish eggs and the color of the Pinot Noir vinified in rosé from the Oltrepò Pavese Classic Method Cruasé is very suggestive. Sensational in combination with the British Columbia roll.

In the photo the Classic Method Cuvée More Pas Dosé of Castello di Cigognola

Riesling (リースリング)

Are you looking for an infallible sushi and wine pairing? Surely Riesling is among the wines most suited to pairing sushi and wine. The intrinsic sensational freshness of this wine and the complex and multifaceted aromas ranging from floral fruity registers to hydrocarbon notes blend well with the delicate complexity of Sushi. Also ideal with Sushi enriched with exotic spices but also sushi embellished with truffles, but also herring and smoked salmon.

Try the Sushi wine pairing with Rieslings from the Rhineland, while the Italic Rieslings from Oltrepò Pavese are also very interesting, with excellent value for money

In the photo Vitea’s Riesling Viteus.

Fiano dell’Irpinia (イルピニアのフィアーノ)

Pairing sushi and wines from southern Italy? Fiano dell’Irpinia is a white wine from the south that differs from Campania wines from other typically Mediterranean areas. Thanks to the harsh winters, cool summers, good temperature ranges and soils of volcanic origin, the wines acquire a sensational acidity, minerality and aromas of great finesse.

Fiano has aromas reminiscent of musk, lime and balsamic notes which, if refined, enhance sensational mineral notes linked to the richness of its aromatic precursors, i.e. varietal aromas that develop over time.

Try the Fiano also with elaborate Sushi-based dishes seasoned with teriyaki sauce, so that the extraordinary flavor of these wines harmonizes with the sweet and sour component of the dressing.

In the photo Joaquin’s Fiano ‘JQN 203 Piante a Lapio’

Etna Rosato (エトナロザト)

Pairing the delicate Sushi with the wines of sunny Sicily? In the case of Etna it is certainly a winning option: the particular altitude where the Etna vineyards are located allows it to compensate for the latitude, giving life to wines of sensational freshness that blend perfectly with the delicate balance of sushi.

Very interesting is the pairing of sushi and Etna rosé wine obtained from Nerello Mascalese. Also try the nigiri with Sicilian red shrimp and Ikura or Tobiko eggs. The sushi wine pairings with Etna Bianco wines obtained from Carricante and Catarratto are also very convincing.

In the photo the Etna Rosato Piano dei Daini of Tenute Bosco

Orange Wines (オレンジワイン)

Sushi and Orange Wines del Collio? A very versatile sushi and wine pairing absolutely to be discovered. The good structure of Orange Wine allows this wine to be paired with particularly elaborate sushi based on fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.

The contrast between the sweet aromas of dehydrated and candied fruit of Orange Wine with the pungent notes of Wasabi and spicy, sweet and sour and spicy sauces is also very interesting.

The pairing of sushi and orange wine is very suitable when the recipe is embellished with cheeses, also try the chromatic pairing with recipes that include salmon roe such as in Boston rolls.

In the photo Gravner’s Ribolla Gialla

Which wine to pair with Sushi?

How to pair wine and sushi? Choosing is a difficult undertaking, which however inevitably is subject to the limits of a subjective opinion, which as such, by definition, is deficient and arbitrary. We have compiled our wine and sushi pairing recommendations.

Examples include wine and sushi pairings of various types and condiments.

However, it remains essential to underline that the best wine and sushi pairing is the one that is able to excite us, also by binding to contingent situations and unrepeatable and intimate moments of our life. Therefore, we invite you to discover all the wine and sushi pairings in their uniqueness, so that you can independently find and choose the wine that can be counted for you among yours as the best pairing between wine and sushi.