Surely you know the major food and drink pairings. Red wine goes with meat. White goes with fish. White zinfandel goes with a hangover. There is some truth to these generalizations, but only some. There are many exceptions as well. And, at the end of the day, it is important to remember that the most important rule is to drink what you like. The discriminating drinker takes the time to reflect upon what one pours and enjoy it fully. That means that if you take pleasure in drinking a glass of Pinot Grigio with your rare steak, enjoy!
That said, there are instances in which one particular style of wine, beer, or whiskey accompanies a particular food so well that we want to share the news with friends. We want to have them over so that they can experience that perfect paring in which food makes a beverage shine and vice versa. In our “Perfect Pairings” posts, of which this is the first, we will share the food and beverage marriages that we think are made in heaven.
Perhaps my single favorite pairing, and certainly the one I enjoy most often, is sushi and Sauvignon Blanc wine. Sushi, whether nigiri (pieces) or maki (rolls), typically includes a variety of fish coupled with rice seasoned with vinegar and soy sauce. The rice and fish present subtle flavors that can be overwhelmed by many wines. Light white wines have the best chance of pairing with it, and when I drink Sauvignon Blanc, particularly varieties from New Zealand, magic happens.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc typically offers bright citrus, grapefruit, passion fruit, and grassy notes. The wine’s high acidity works almost like the ginger that accompanies sushi. Ginger is intended to be eaten between bites of sushi to cleanse the palate so that you can distinguish the nuances of your next piece. Additionally, the wine’s acidity wipes away the salty flavor of soy sauce. Sauvignon Blanc perfectly accompanies the fresh flavors of sushi and heightens the experience of each new bite. It helps that fine bottles of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can be found for under $10. Coupled with negihama (yellowtail and scallion maki), that’s the cost of dining happiness.